REVIEW:The Wild Blue Yonder -- the Picador Book of Aviation.
This book requires a certain interest in aircraft and flying from the reader, but if you ever read the Biggles books by W E Johns, you are probably on the safe side.
In fact, this collection of short stories actually includes one about Biggles, "Biggles Shoots the Falls". In the story, Biggles and his friends face a waterfall after an engine breakdown of their amphibian aircraft and Biggles' skills are needed to take the aircraft and its crew away from the danger.
The story of aviation is the story of the twentieth century, the editor writes in his introduction, noting that flying lacks a mythological context, as compared to ships and the sea. Air travel, Coster notes, is usually a background set for the plots of the novels, short stories and even poetry of this century. Still, Coster has managed to collect a book full of excerpts and short stories dealing with aircraft and flying. Included are works by HG Wells, WB Yeats, Roald Dahl and Joseph Heller.
The introduction gives a short description of the works included in the book, which seems at the same time to be both a history of aviation and a history of aviation literature. In contrast to many introductions, I think this one actually enhances the reading experience. Instead of being a book of short stories with a common denominator, namely flying, the book is transformed into a whole where each selected contribution provides a new angle or step forward.
The breathtaking adventures of Biggles are mixed with the feelings of the real-life feelings in the poetry of Yeats and John Gillespie Magee. It is hard to find much to criticise in this book, especially as it is definitely more than it aspires to be, a book to fill a gap mad by lack of literature really dealing with aviation.
CONCLUSION:I would recommend the book to anyone who is interested in aviation, but it should not be confined to such a narrow category. This book can be read for the pleasure of the selected contributions and the skill of the authors represented in it.
Product: The Wild Blue Yonder -- the Picador Book of Aviation Edited and introduced by: Graham Coster Publisher: Picador ISBN: 0-330-39055-4 Price: GBP8.99 Reviewer: Ann Sundqvist
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