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Toasters Reads: The Mysterious Island

As I mentioned last week, I recently downloaded some public domain titles for the grand price of zero from Amazon.  This week’s back to back book review is the companion tale to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea—The Mysterious Island, also by Jules Verne.  This story is not really a sequel, and without giving […]

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Toasters Reads: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

I recently downloaded the Kindle application for my cellular phone, because while I do enjoy reading real book, and probably next to that, books on the Kindle, my phone is the one thing that I always seem to have on me when I come across a spare moment in which to read.  As […]


What Ever Became of…Bookmobiles?

A month or so ago, an excellent suggestion for something disappearing in our modern world was offered up by OA5599, and because I am running out of ideas I forgot about it until this week it is such an excellent suggestion, let’s consider it.  Many of you may still remember those heady elementary […]

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Toasters Reads: The Pilgrim Project


A few weeks back we looked at a speech memo written for the US President in the event that some catastrophe befell the Apollo 11 Moon landing, and they were unable to return to Earth.  In the write up for that, I mentioned that some other posts sort of along a similar vein would be forthcoming, and this look at the science fiction book The Pilgrim Project, by Hank Searls, is the first of those.  When I came across that memo, this story was the first thing that popped into my head.  This book seems to be somewhat of an unknown, and was one of those books that my family just happened to own when I was growing up, and my brother and I read it as our interest in space and technology began to grow.  For those of you [Professor, cough, cough] that might have been around, you may recall a film entitled Countdown, make in 1968 and based on this book.  Reviews indicate the film was somewhat forgettable, and likely overshadowed by the actual Moon landing the following year.

The Pilgrim Project seems to have been inspired by actual ideas tossed around during the early days of the space race, and that always made it more interesting to me.  In 1962, at a symposium in New York, members of the Institute of Aerospace Sciences proposed sending an astronaut on a one-way trip to the Moon.  This was no suicide mission, but a long term mission.  The theory was that we had rockets powerful enough to get someone to the Moon, but not to execute the then early plans for an Apollo type mission, where an orbiting capsule would send a lander down and then back up, then safely return to Earth.  Instead, a simple capsule would land the intrepid astronaut on the lunar surface, and a separate launch from those same less powerful boosters would sent up a living quarters.  Then those same rockets would launch re-supply containers at frequent intervals, until such time, perhaps a year or two in the future, the Saturn booster was ready for a full Apollo mission, at which point our lonely explorer would stand relieved and return to Earth.

Why go to extremes to get to the Moon? To beat the Russians, of course!

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Computers You Should Know

How It Works: The Computer


Yesterday’s post a from engineerd™ on the Evolution of Data storage reminded me of this book on how the computer works from 1971. The book is called ‘How it works’ The Computer, and it by David Carey with illustrations by B. H. Robinson. The illustrations paint are great picture of just how classy theses machines were. Hit the jump to see more!

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Toasters Reads: Goodnight Dune

As a treat for those of you with smaller children, who want to share the fun of Dune, but don’t think they are quite ready for the real deal, check out Goodnight Dune! Back in late 2010, Caldwell Tanner of the website College Humor posted some children’s book covers done up in sci fi style. These covers had some out on the webs clamoring for a whole book version, and in 2011 Julia Yu obliged. The whole thing is available for reading at, so send your kids gently off to sleep Dune style tonight!

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Toasters Reads: Dune

There are definite classics in the realm of science fiction, books that many have undoubtedly read. Dune is one such book, and as such, I am a little leery of covering it here. Can I tell you anything profound, or new? Likely not, but perhaps there may be some out there who have seen the film, a classic in its own right, but have not read the book. This is a club that I was a member of until recently. Having waited so long to read it, I can safely say that both are quality pieces in their own right, and if you haven’t read it, you are missing out!

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Toasters Reads: KILLDOZER!

In a slight departure from the book-like focus that the brief run of Toasters Reads has had, today’s entry is more of a longish short story, a novella if you will. The story is KILLDOZER!, a definite classic from the pen of Theodore Sturgeon. Written in 1944 (revised in 1959) and originally published in the November issue of Astounding magazine, this tale is an excellent science fiction yarn.

The plot is not hard to discern, given the imagery of the one word title. In a world that existed before our world, in a time  long before our time, beings of energy that could control mechanical machines evolved. Somehow one of these beings has survived, and…well, while you can quietly guess where this is going, the story is well written and will pull you in. I am certainly no expert on early science fiction, but KILLDOZER!, is one of the oldest ‘Ghost in the Machine’ sci fi tales that I have read. Many later works, both within and outside of the sci fi realm seem to owe inspiration at the least to this story.

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Rescuing Lost Titles

Undoubtedly many of us here have had the opportunity to read some obscure science fiction titles, since our love for the obsolete often extends to the pulpy side of the printed world and that low tech hanger-on that is the used book store. There are others out there that share that enjoyment for prior generations’ […]

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Toasters Reads: A Fall of Moondust

The best of science fiction are those stories in which the science is creating a believable framework for the story.* That is not to say that those stories where the science is a giant leap, edging in on fantasy, aren’t enjoyable. But it is something special to be able to visualize the events of the story being achievable in just a few short years, if technological development and scientific investment progressed along the right path.

One such book is Arthur C. Clarke’s A Fall of Moondust, from 1961. Like many of Clarke’s stories it is told within a realm of fact and realism. Additionally the tale reflects an interesting take on the optimism of the ongoing space race. In the book, the optimistic piece is that Earth has built permanent bases on the Moon, as well as multiple space stations in orbit. The interesting aspect is that by the point in the timeline at which the story takes place, the fact that we are on the Moon is basically taken for granted, and considered no big deal. It is a little hard to imagine anyone in the early 1960s feeling blasé about being able to take a vacation to see the surface of the Moon.

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