Review by Steve Winders
The Book: A technical manual devoted to the Space Fleet organization featured in the famous Dan Dare Pilot of the Future strip from the 1950s and 60s Eagle weekly. The book includes over thirty highly detailed cutaway illustrations by Graham Bleathman, of space vehicles and bases, with fourteen in colour. These are supported by a large amount of background information by Rod Barzilay, about Dan Dare’s adventures, the aliens he encountered and the principal characters in the stories. Rod’s informative and well researched pages are supported by illustrations from the original Eagle and almost all the cutaways are accompanied by small pictures of them from the strip.
The Review: After the U.S.S. Enterprise, the Millenium Falcon and Thunderbirds, Dan Dare’s spaceships have become the latest iconic space vehicles to receive the Haynes treatment. Graham Bleathman’s accurate cutaways are well up to the standards he set in his popular Thunderbirds illustrations and in quality, echo those of real vehicles which adorned the centre pages of the 1950s Eagle, when Dan Dare appeared on the front cover. All the principal cutaways are printed across two pages however and consequently a little detail is lost in the guttering between the pages. Clearly considerable effort has been made to minimise this issue, because the problem is not as noticeable as in Daniel Tatarsky’s 2008 Eagle Annual of the Cutaways.
Although a few of the spaceships have been featured previously in cutaways in the author’s Spaceship Away! magazine, the cutaways in the book are all new. Spaceship Away! is a periodical originally devised to carry new Dan Dare strips in the original style and in the case of Barzilay’s own Phoenix Mission and Green Nemesis stories, predominantly drawn by Don Harley, who worked on the strip in the 1950s Eagle. Two episodes of Green Nemesis are featured on the endpapers of the book and Dan Dare’s new spaceship from these adventures, the Marco Polo, is also included as a cutaway. The stories in Spaceship Away were also set during the period of Dare’s original adventures in the 1950s and 60s Eagle and the Spacefleet Operations Manual restricts itself to this time, avoiding the 2000 A.D. comic’s version of Dan Dare and the adventures of his great great grandson in the 1980s Eagle.
In examining the technical aspects of Dan Dare in detail, this book explores an aspect of the saga that no previous book has covered and in quality and presentation it maintains the high standards that have established Haynes as a leading technical publisher. It is an essential work for fans of Dan Dare and should also interest more general science fiction enthusiasts.