Morris Scott Dollens is best known to aging SF fans as one of the most prolific space artists who ever lived. For decades there was rarely a convention art show that didn't feature half a dozen or more of his small-scale astronomical paintings. Unable to afford to attend many cons himself, he mailed hundreds of these to shows all over the country. They were not very good astronomical paintings, but they were colorful and fun and reflected a genuine passion for the universe. There were few fans who didn't own at least one. Some figure he created more than 1700 paintings before 1989 (Dollens was very ill the last few years of his life, following a couple of strokes, and died in 1994).
Born in 1920, Dollens began contributing to science fiction fan magazines before the decade was out and his art was eventually featured in several professional magazines. He also created collections of slides of his astronomical artwork, which he sold to schools across the nation. As many as 60,000 slides according to one Dollens fan. Today, the University of California at Riverside maintains a collection of Dollens' slides. Although he made his living largely by repairing tape recorders—-a job he hated—-he was also an expert photographer and skilled model maker. These three interests—-astronomy, photography and model-making—-led to an endeavor that that was especially close to his heart: The creation of a movie that would take audiences on a journey through the solar system.
It was to be called "Dream of the Stars," and Dollens created dozens of meticulous models of space ships and alien landscapes. He assembled these into tabletop dioramas which were then photographed in the same way Hollywood special effects artists would create miniature effects scene. Dollens sent these photos to magazine and book publishers, who ran them with captions that declared that "Dream of the Stars . . .is said to be best space film yet." I remember seeing these photos in books about space when I was a kid and desperately trying to track down this movie. It wasn't until decades later, when I contacted Dollens while researching my book, "The Dream Machines," that I finally learned the truth: that "Dream of the Stars" was just that: a dream.
To the best of my knowledge, with the exception of the B&W images, these are the first time any of Dollens' scenes from "Dream of the Stars" have ever been published.
Click any image to enlarge.