Contrary

Morgan Robertson

…was a well-known American author of short stories and novels, and the possible inventor of the periscope.

Nowadays he is best known for the short novel Futility, first published in 1898. This story features an enormous British passenger liner called the Titan, which, deemed to be unsinkable, carries insufficient lifeboats. On a voyage in the month of April, the Titan hits an iceberg and sinks in the North Atlantic with the loss of almost everyone on board.

The similarities between the fictional sinking of the Titan and the real-life sinking of the RMS Titantic in 1912 attract attention even today although there are significant differences: for example, the fictional Titan capsized and sank almost immediately (rendering the number of lifeboats moot), and the Titan was on its third return trip from New York, not her maiden voyage to New York.

In 1914 (in a volume that also contained the new version of Futility), Robertson included a short story called Beyond the Spectrum, which described a future war between the United States and Japan, a popular subject at the time. Like The Wreck of the Titan, Beyond the Spectrum bore some similarities with actual events. Japan does not declare war but instead launches sneak attacks on United States ships en route to the Philippines and Hawaii; an invasion fleet about to conduct a surprise attack on San Francisco is stopped by the hero using the weapon from a captured Japanese vessel.

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July 10, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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