Morgan Robertson's Futility

Fiona Nitschke

Fiona Nitschke

Member
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.
 
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Jeremy Lee

Member
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

Dave Gittins

Member
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.
 
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Michael Tennaro

Member
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
 
Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

Member
>>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.
 
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Senan Molony

Member
95765


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.
 
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Bill Wormstedt

Member
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.
 
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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?
 
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Michael Tennaro

Member
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
 
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Bill Wormstedt

Member
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.
 
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Michael Tennaro

Member
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


best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 
Dave Gittins

Dave Gittins

Member
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."
 
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Henry Loscher

Member
I have the 1912 copyright by Morgan Robertson edition of Futility in my collection and the ending is as you have stated. It also has a Copyright date of 1898 by M.R. Mansfield. Henry Loscher
 
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Michael Tennaro

Member
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
 
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