Spacecraft 2000-2100 AD

Spacecraft 2000-2100 AD
Stewart Cowley

The Terran Trade Authority books are coffee table books for the 22nd Century. The first in the series, Spacecraft 2000-2100 AD, is a “non-fiction” presentation of spaceships from that century in the form of full page paintings, along with some background on their development and use. Cowley’s book from 1978 is superficially comparable to Barlowe’s Guide to Extraterrestrials, another favorite of Two Dudes. However, while Barlowe’s features paintings of famous aliens from other authors’ books, Spacecraft is all from Cowley’s imagination. It appears that the TTA books are being reprinted for use in an RPG format, but for the originals, this site is best source of (slightly dated) information. (He writes about the difficulty involved in finding copies, which means that this HTML was coded sometime before Amazon took off.)

I came across the TTA when searching for a good book full of spaceship pictures that I could share with my son. Sure enough, this oversized book generally has full page illustrations accompanied by schematics and a description on the page facing. The ships are fun to look at and the quality of the art, to my untrained eye, is high. What surprised me though, was the history that Cowley creates with broad strokes in the ship descriptions. Because he’s writing this as a coffee table book, the assumption is that the reader already knows what happened during the 21st Century. Famous events are referred to, then dropped, battles are mentioned in passing, the final result of various conflicts is never in doubt, but somehow at the end, the reader has a sense of the grand sweep of future history. We watch as humanity takes its first steps into space, meets aliens at the nearby Centauri stars, falls into war, and ultimately triumphs.

The book is not meant to be taken as a serious novel, or as something to concentrate on for long periods of time. There is no message, no characters, and no suspense. Spacecraft is best enjoyed a few pages at a time, ogling the pictures and letting the history seep in slowly. I can only imagine the effect this book might have on the young and impressionable; had I come across it in early adolescence, I probably would have worn the book out and hung the pictures on my wall. Even though it is long out of print, I had no trouble getting a copy of this from the library, and there appear to be plenty available online. The Terran Trade Authority books are definitely worth checking out.

Rating: Youtube collections of the best goals. Not a lot of context or development, but non-stop eye candy.

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