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I encountered a book from the Seattle public library in the 90's that I am still looking to identify to this day.

I remember it being slightly oversized, maybe 10" x 14". I believe it was mostly graphical, where each page (or double page) was mostly self-contained content. This content was -- if recalling correctly -- almost entirely fake, found-like content from the future:

  • fake advertisements for things like flying cars
  • extremely detailed cutaways of spaceships (e.g. like for cruise ships, but for space)
  • newspaper articles / clippings from events happening

I wish I had more to go on, but that's about it.

I remember one flying car advertisement of a red car in the foreground with a couple of young women in the backseat, and behind them another car (maybe green?) zooming off to really send home they were flying cars. Otherwise, content like this could have been an ad from the 50's for a new Chevy.

I've since learned the style was similar to, if not explicitly, retrofuturism.

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F! Nice question; was there any framing story, or a set of stories written to match the graphics, or was it more of a future scrapbook?
    – DavidW
    Mar 9, 2022 at 14:03
  • Hi @DavidW, and thanks! I don't recall any story, and I think a "future scrapbook" is an incredibly apt description. For what it's worth, there was text in some of the advertisements, news articles, etc., but nothing bridging them to my recollection.
    – ghukill
    Mar 9, 2022 at 18:33

2 Answers 2

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It differs from your question in that there was definitely a framing story run through it, but the only pre-2000 art book I can think of that had a scrapbook look was Tour of the Universe: The Journey of a Lifetime: The Recorded Diaries of Leio Scott and Caroline Luranski (1980) by Malcolm Edwards and Robert Holdstock.

It's slightly larger than an A4/8.5x11 sheet of paper, maybe 22cm by 29cm - larger than a normal hardcover, but not as big as the large-format art books like Spacecraft 2000-2100AD.

Cover of "Tour of the Universe"

The book is presented as the scrapbook of a couple who won a galactic cruise, and includes newspaper clippings, advertisements for attractions, pictures that they took, tickets, boarding passes and a detailed cut-away drawing of their cruise ship.

Newspaper clippings

Advertising flyer and tickets

Two-page cut-away drawing of the Luxury Liner "Starfriend"

(Sources: Terran Trade Authority site: "Tour of the Universe", We Are the Mutants site: "Earth Visitor’s Passport: ‘Tour of the Universe’, 1980")

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    I must say I regret letting some books slip through my fingers when I had the chance to grab them...
    – DavidW
    Mar 10, 2022 at 18:06
  • This is the book. This is the book I've been searching for, for 30+ years. I clearly had forgotten the essay-winning, galaxy traveling couple narrative, but even that is coming back now. What I have not forgotten is the immersion and synapsis firing while lingering in those lush illustrations. What an immense and wonderful gift; a thousand thank yous! Truly, and sincere and hearty thank you. With this out of the way... I reckon I can get on with my life and take out the trash now?
    – ghukill
    Mar 10, 2022 at 22:42
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The date doesn't match (2010 instead of 1990s), but Gregory Benford wrote a similar book called The Wonderful Future That Never Was: Flying Cars, Mail Delivery by Parachute, and Other Predictions from the Past. Benford reprinted many illustrations from magazines like Popular Mechanics, including flying cars. From the Goodreads review (probably itself taken from the book's blurb, but I no longer have a copy to check from):

Between 1903 and 1969, scientists and other experts made hundreds of predictions in Popular Mechanics magazine about what the future would hold. Their forecasts ranged from ruefully funny to eerily prescient and optimistically utopian. Here are the very best of them, culled from hundreds of articles, complete with the original, visually stunning retro art. They will capture the imagination of futurists in the same way Jules Verne's writing did a century earlier. Every chapter features an introduction by astrophysics professor, science-fiction author, and former NASA advisor Gregory Benford.

PAST PREDICTIONS OF OUR FUTURE INCLUDE:

  • Skyscrapers so tall they'll have their own climate
  • Underground pneumatic tubes to replace garbage trucks
  • Rooftop lakes that serve as air conditioning systems
  • Clothes made from asbestos and aluminum
  • Mail sorted by robots and delivered by parachutes

Here's the cover of the book.

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    This definitely has some thematic overlap! Thanks for sharing. Where it deviates, the book I'm looking for never broke the fourth wall; it was just presented as if that's how things were, these were space cruises you could go on, etc. And the art was really astounding, a bit more cartoony and vivid than these technicolor-esque drawings.
    – ghukill
    Mar 10, 2022 at 8:20

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