Willy Ley

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(October 2, 1906 – June 24, 1969)

Willy Otto Oskar Ley was a German-American fan and science writer born in Berlin, Germany, who was a lifelong space advocate who helped popularize rocketry and spaceflight in both Germany and the United States. In 1935, he fled Nazi Germany for Great Britain and later the US.

He was an avid reader of SF, and began publishing scientific articles in the prozines, starting with "The Dawn of the Conquest of Space" in the March 1937 issue of Astounding. He had a regular science column in Galaxy from its first issue until his death. He was a fan as well, attending conventions, and was a regular on convention programs.

Growing up in Germany, Ley studied astronomy, physics, zoology, and paleontology and became interested in spaceflight after reading Hermann Oberth's book and became one of the first members of Germany's amateur rocket group, and acted as a consultant on Fritz Lang's film Frau im Mond ("Woman in the Moon").

His works from the 1950s and '60s are regarded as classics of popular science and include:

  • The Conquest of Space which was written in 1949 with Chesley Bonestell and created indelible images of spaceflight for a generation of fans. This won the 1951 International Fantasy Award.
  • The Conquest of the Moon (with Wernher von Braun and Fred Whipple, 1953).
  • Beyond the Solar System (1964).
  • Rockets, Missiles, and Space Travel, (1957) was the definitive explanation of the subject for the non-expert.

He acted as science consultant for the Tom Corbett, Space Cadet series of children's science fiction books and TV series. The crater Ley on the far side of the Moon is named in his honor. He was a member of the International Fantasy Award judging panel.

He was a member of the all-male literary banqueting club the Trap Door Spiders, which served as the basis of Isaac Asimov's fictional group of mystery solvers the Black Widowers.

He was married to fan and artist Olga Ley. They had two daughters, Sandra and Xenia.

Awards, Honors and GoHships:

Person 19061969
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