Chesley Bonestell is Warmly Welcomed 

in his Home Town of San Francisco!

On Wednesday night, February 12, a special screening of Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future took place in San Francisco at the city’s Main Public Library. On hand was a rare gathering of four cast members from the film who live in the Bay Area: Photographer Robert E. David, Author Wyn Wachhorst, Author James Dalessandro, and Architectural Historian Christina Dikas. The event was moderated by the San Francisco Public Library’s Brian Weaver. Here’s his account of the evening:

(L to R) Robert E. David, Wyn Wachhorst, James Dalessandro, and Christina Dikas answer questions from the audience.

"It was really great to host a screening of Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future here at the San Francisco Public Library as part of our 'SF by the Bay' series, celebrating science fiction and fantasy in the Bay Area.

I'm one of those people who had not heard of Chesley Bonestell before, even though I am familiar with some of his art, probably as a result of seeing it on the covers of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. We have a full run of this magazine in our J. Francis McComas Fantasy and Science Fiction Collection here at the library.

The documentary really makes it clear what a tremendous influence Bonestell had on American architecture, science, and culture. And I think that was the most amazing thing to learn about him -- just how talented he was with architectural design, matte paintings for films, and imagining distant worlds with his space art.

The film screening at the library was a lot of fun and it was great to have Bob, Wyn, James, and Christina from the film there to talk after the screening. The audience was very engaged and had lots of questions, with some staying afterward to talk further to the panelists. There was great astonishment with Chesley’s involvement with the Golden Gate Bridge as well as his very strong influence in the creation of our space program.  This was a most remarkable evening indeed!"

Brian Weaver
Program Manager
General Collections & Humanities Center  
San Francisco Public Library

We are very grateful to Brian for hosting this screening. You can hear an audio recording of the Q&A that came afterward by clicking the button below:

Listen to the Q&A

Katherine Johnson, NASA's "Human Computer," Passes Away at 101

As much as we rely on computers to do so many things these days, there was a time not that long ago when complex calculations were done by other means. In the 2016 Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures, the focus is on a real-life group of African-American women at NASA who performed the complicated mathematical calculations that early space flights required manually, instead of electronically. Her precise calculations played a key part in the flight of Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American to venture into space. Her mathematical abilities were integral in the success of John Glenn becoming the first American to orbit the earth, and thanks to her flawless accuracy, Apollo 11 made it safely from the Earth to the Moon and back again. We honor this remarkable woman, who passed away on February 24 at age 101.

Katherine Johnson (1918-2020) Credit: NASA
In her work, Katherine used a device called a slide rule. In one of our Bonus Features, Rocket Engineer Rocco Lardiere demonstrates how slide rules were used to help design rockets in the 1940s and 1950s.
From now until the end of March, you can see a free, sneak-preview of this Bonus Feature by clicking on the picture above.
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