Morgan Robertson's Futility

Sep 2, 2009
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Alright since we are on the subject of Morgan Robertson's "Futility" or "Wreck of the Titan"
There is the 1898 edition, a 1912 Edition and a 1914 re-print edition
One 1912 Edition came as part of a set of the complete works of Morgan Robertson.
The are seem to be two versions of the 1912 edition which are a regular printing and an Autographed Edition. The words "Autograph Edition" on on the spine of the book. However I have had a couple of copies of this Autograph edition without the "Autograph"
The question is how many people here have the "Autograph edition" with the Autograph?
The edition I am referring to is as follows:

Robertson, Morgan, 'The Wreck of the Titan or Futility, Autograph Edition published by McClure's Magazine and Metropolitan Magazine, Copyright 1898 by M.F. Mansfield Copyright 1912 by Morgan Robertson The Quinn & Boden Co. Press, Rahway, NJ.

As for the autograph it was a pasted on book plate inserted on the front binding pages of the book.

Morgan Robertson Autograph
S. Anderson Collection, 2003
 
Nov 12, 2000
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Steven, although the 1912 version is called the "autograph" edition, none of the copies of Futility were signed by the author. here is what happened. most people don't realize it, but Robertson's complete writings were reprinted in 1912 in a multi-volume set known as the autograph edition. but only one of the books in the set had the author's signature and that was the first volume of the set, called Where Angels Fear to Tread.

the only reason you are seeing signed copies of the Futility volume is that people are clipping the signature out of Angels and pasting it into Futility.

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 
Aug 31, 2004
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I noticed how so many people here and elsewhere said that the Titan and Titanic were alike. Somewhere I read that the Titan was on her maiden voyage and had four funnels. When I read the book, it stated that she was on her third voyage and had masts with sails, and made no mention to the number of funnels.

It's still eerie, though.
 
Nov 12, 2000
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Many writers have compared the similarities between the fictional wreck and the real disaster, but Gardner, in his book The Wreck of the Titanic Foretold? is the first to go on and contrast the differences between the two events as well. The Titan was filled to capacity, for example, while the Titanic was barely half full. Titanic’s last night was clear and cloud free, the Titan was racing through heavy fog. The survival rate between the two is also very different. On Titanic, roughly a third of the people survived, while the Titan went down with just about everyone aboard, there were only thirteen survivors.

Gardner misses the single most striking difference between the two events. In Robertson’s story, the Titan does not sideswipe a berg, the ship actually steams right up onto an upward sloping ice shelf. The Titan then tips over onto its starboard side and slides back into the ocean, where it quickly floods and sinks.

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 
Dec 8, 2000
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Matthew, I've moved your post and the two responses to it into this thread, as there's much here that relates to your comments that you will find interesting.

Several years ago I remember Parks Stephenson posted quite a lengthy comparison of Titan / Titanic that highlighted a lot more differences than similarities. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to have been a post made on this board - or at least a search hasn't turned it up yet.
 

Jeremy Lee

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Jun 12, 2003
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However, even with the many differences (I believe there are MUCH more differences than similarities) it seems just too good a prediction for something written 14 years before! Seems eerie...LOL
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Remember that the book was changed in 1912 to make Titan more like Titanic. Displacement went from 45,000 tons to 70,000 tons and power from 40,000hp to 75,000hp. The ending was also changed, but that has no nautical importance.
 
Nov 12, 2000
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Actuality, it is my belief that Robertson altered the Titan's figures to leapfrog her ahead of Titanic.

Here are the relevant statistics:

the Titan, 1898 version:
45,000 ton displacement, horsepower 40,000.

the Titanic:
52,000 tons displacement, horsepower 46.000.

the Titan, 1912 edition:
70,000 tons displacement, horsepower 75,000.

Robertson's original figures are much closer to the real ship; his updated figures are well beyond Titanic. This indicates to me that rather than trying to mimic the real Titanic, Robertson was trying to keep his fictional ship ahead of the technology of the current day.

Just another opinion.
all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>However, even with the many differences (I believe there are MUCH more differences than similarities) it seems just too good a prediction for something written 14 years before!<<

Why? In general terms, all you need to do is keep an eye on what's going on to make some reasonable predictions at what's possible and it's not much of a stretch to predict that a ship is going to sink with a large loss of life. Especially if it tangles with an icefield. Icebergs had been killing ships for centuries so there aren't any great unknowns here...and no need for supernatural powers of precognition.
 

Senan Molony

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Jan 30, 2004
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95765.jpg


I like this graphic by Nick Cronin.

In an artistic way it reworks the "prediction" leitmotif into Japanese aircraft attacking the Titanic.

Morgan Roberston's post-Futility book Beyond The Spectrum, published in 1914, is seen by some as foretelling the Bay of Pigs, no, of course I am kidding, Pearl Harbour.

It features a war between Japan and the USA with a pre-emptive attack on the US fleet.

By the same token however, you could say that
J.J. Astor's A Journey in Other Worlds predicted the space shuttle and a whole range of things.
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Surprisingly, all these years I've read about Titanic, but never bothered reading "Futility".

Getting away from the Titanic/Titan similarities, I am fairly surprised with this story. First - it's somewhat of an adventure story! Shipwrecked on an iceberg! Fighting a polar bear! And really, not too much set on the Titan at all - the Titan is more a plot point setting the rest of the story going. The ship is gone halfway thru the story, and the rest is what happens to the main characters afterwards.

I am enjoying the story - but I also have to admit to a fondness for old pulp novels. And that is what this is - or at the least, reads like.
 
J

Jeffrey Beaudry

Guest
I read Futility several months ago, and for some reason it hit me that it would be good as a silent black-and-white film. I don't know why, but the way it was written reminded me of a silent movie. Did anyone else have this thought run through their head?
 
Nov 12, 2000
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Bill, only someone with a fondness for old pulp novels could like this style of writing. lol. Most people are fairly disappointed at how turgid the writing is, but it was written for a different time.

In point of fact, this book, and most of Robertson's books are in reality, morality plays. This is what people wanted to read turn of the century and Robertson really was quite successful at writing this stuff. Because of the quasi-Titanic connection, we tend to forget that the author was not trying to predict anything when he wrote this story in 1898. His aim was to tell of the corruption in the passenger liner trade, and the redemption of a fallen sailor (this was before the feel-good final chapter was added in the 1912 printing).

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 
Dec 6, 2000
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No argument, Michael - I *do* like this style of writing! Can't explain why, I just do. Too many Edgar Rice Burroughs novels when I was young and impressionable, I suspect.

The similarities between Titanic and Titan are just an incidental to the main story. In fact, the Titan itself is just a very small part of the main story.

The last chapter was an add-on? Interesting! Makes me wonder if it was part of the original story that just wasn't published at the earlier time, or something written later.
 
Nov 12, 2000
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Hey Bill,
I have no definitive proof, but my strong suspicion is that the last chapter was written for the 1912 edition, and was not part of the original story that was simply left off. The 1912 rerelease, as we all know, was done because of the Titan/Titanic similarities, but the original had too downer an ending. Sure the hero is exonerated publically, but not personally. Audiences reacting to the story in 1912 would have wanted a more hopeful ending than the original.

That's my two cents worth anyway.
happy.gif


best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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According to the edition I have, only nine lines were added to the original ending. After "women and whisky" Robertson added---

"But he was wrong, for in six months he received a letter which, in part, read as follows:

"Do not think me indifferent or ungrateful. I have watched from a distance while you made your wonderful fight for your old standards. You have won, and I am glad and I congratulate you. But Myra will not let me rest. She asks for you continually and cries at times. I can bear it no longer. Will you not come and see Myra?"

And the man went to see - Myra."
 
Nov 12, 2000
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Dave and Henry are right, it is only the part about Myra that was added to the 1912 edition. Was rushing to get an answer out and didn't follow through as completely with my research as I should have. Thought I had learned this lesson already!

Apologies for the confusion.
best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T