The publisher has continued to break new ground in the production of manuals that follow an ever more diverse range of subjects. In this case, the manual breaks new ground with an Introduction from a puppet.
NAME: International Rescue, Thunderbirds TB1-TB5, Tracy Island and associated rescue vehicles, Agents’ Technical Manual
CLASSIFICATION: Book Reviews
AUTHOR: Sam Denham, illustrator Graham Bleathman
PUBLISHER: Haynes Publishing
BINDING: hard back
GENRE: Non fiction
SUBJECT: FAB1, FAB2, Thnderbird 1, Thunderbird 2, Thunderbird 3, Thunderbird 4, Thunderbird 5, Tracy Island, puppets, television fiction, Dicetylene Cage, JT1 Condor, Ladybird jet, BR2
DESCRIPTION: The publisher has continued to break new ground in the production of manuals that follow an ever more diverse range of subjects. In this case, the manual breaks new ground with an Introduction from a puppet.
When the Thunderbirds stories were first considered, it was intended to produce a sci-fi story with actors. The decision to use puppets was initially seen as a cost reduction measure and the stories were produced for television and inevitably seen as children’s entertainment. However, the programs became cult viewing with a strong adult following and have generated a very strong collector following. Over the years since the first programs there have been a number of attempts to produce new episodes, feature films, both in animation and with live actors.
The formula is still viable in a digital age. What made the series so popular across a wide audience, encouraging enduring interest was the attention to detail in creating an environment and technology that was credible, if futuristic. The characters were also finely drawn. In employing puppets, the production team expanded on the heritage of puppet technology and use.
When the series was created in the 1960s it was a period of great optimism. The US had declared its goal of placing a man on the Moon, satellites were being launched in increasing numbers and with ever greater capability. Supersonic passenger transportation was becoming reality with Concorde. Some of the products of the Lockheed Skunk Works were becoming visible, and underwater exploration was beginning to develop as an expanding research area and to support the development of oil and gas production off-shore in some of the least hospitable oceans. There didn’t seem much that might be beyond the close reach of the generation.
In the process, scientists were having to consider the need for rescue systems that could operate in conditions and areas where existing technology was incapable. Had the pace of development been maintained, we would today see colonies on the Moon and Mars, airlines would be using aircraft capable of hypersonic flight, space tourism would have become commonplace, and there would be a program to explore the oceans with at least as much enthusiasm as space exploration.
The reality has seen pauses in these developments. Thunderbirds was therefore in one sense a promise that never happened, but as science begins to pick up the pace, a fifty year old sci-fi tale still looks relevant. Placing this book with an audience is difficult because of the unusual and wide appeal of the subject. It is a great book to expand the horizons of the young, it is a bit of fun that can be enjoyed by a wide audience, it will appeal strongly to the collectors of Thunderbirds artefacts. It may inspire a new series of stories for animation or for actors. It might even inspire a new puppet show. The book is made by the illustrations that have been provided as photographs, artist’s impressions and drawings.