THE THAMES VALLEY CATASTROPHE (1884) – Written by Grant Allen. The story is presented in the form of a memoir about the destruction of London as seen from “the futuristic” 20th Century.
“Back” in 1884 a Londoner familiar with lava eruptions and flows that happened in the American West in the past tries – in what would become a trope of later disaster movies – to warn the authorities that danger lurks. Needless to say his warnings go unheeded and lava erupts in the Thames Valley.
Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner Plenty of Londoners die in the ensuing carnage but our hero manages to get his wife and children out. Various other survivors succeed in getting away alive but the geography of the region is forever altered.
London itself was utterly destroyed. The now closed-in Thames River became instead the Thames Lake, with various new towns being established on its banks by the early 20th Century.
One of those new towns is established as the new capital city of England.
From a story-telling angle it’s fascinating to see how far back the fundamental story structure for Disaster Epics goes. I used to think it started with the 1920s silent film about the Johnstown Flood of the 1890s.
Obviously, however, by 1884 (at least) the basic outline of a protagonist warning authorities about an impending catastrophe but being ignored until it’s too late was being laid out.
FOR EIGHT ADDITIONAL EXAMPLES OF ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION CLICK HERE
FOR TEN MORE EXAMPLES OF ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/2014/03/03/ten-neglected-examples-of-ancient-science-fiction/
FOR WASHINGTON IRVING’S 1809 depiction of an invasion from the moon click here: https://glitternight.com/2014/05/05/ancient-science-fiction-the-men-of-the-moon-1809-by-washington-irving/
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