A.D. 2000 (1890) – Written by Alvarado M. Fuller, this was one of the earliest imitations of Edward Bellamy’s 1888 work Looking Backward. The main character is a Cavalry Lieutenant named Junius Cobb.
Lieutenant Cobb has invented a powerful explosive that the Army has contracted for use. Cobb has also befriended a scientist named Jean Colchis and fallen in love with the man’s daughter Marie. Colchis has invented a means of “crystallizing ozone” and Cobb uses that process to induce a state of suspended animation on himself.
With the cooperation of friends, Lt. Cobb seals himself away in a San Francisco replica of the Statue of Liberty with an alarm set to revive him in the year 1987. Due to a mathematical error, however, our main character is not awakened from suspended animation until the year 2000 A.D.
One of the friends who helped seal Junius Cobb away back in 1887 has a grandson who is president of the United States in the year 2000, and the president has a party sent to San Francisco to revive Cobb lest his state of suspended animation continue indefinitely. Cobb recovers slowly, but within months he is ready to become acquainted with the world of 2000 A.D.
He learns that Great Britain has rejected royalty and become a republic. A united Germany has done the same, while France has devolved into an absolute monarchy.
China is still a dynasty and has banned pigtails, while Siberia has established its independence from the rest of Russia. As for the United States, a series of wars from 1900 to 1925 caused its expansion to the point where it now includes every land from Panama on northward.
There are electrical cars and trains plus pneumatic tubes that carry passengers from coast to coast in mere hours. Assorted lighter than air vessels are in use as well. “Sympathetic telegraphy” was invented by Cobb’s old friend Jean Colchis and, through telegraph needles that are attuned to each other, instant communication around the world is possible between individuals.
A series of explosions from natural gas wells left the American Midwest a ravaged mess and backed up multiple rivers, causing the formation of a huge Central Sea. After all that, man-made efforts at engineering the climate took place. The Gulf Stream was altered to produce more moderate temperatures.
In the year 2000 humanity goes by a thirteen month calendar, each month lasting 28 days. America has a tricameral legislature with the president and assorted other high officials selected by the two lower houses from candidates proposed by the state governors. The president’s term in office is now 5 years.
Corporate profits have been capped, with excess funds divided among the laborers. The government controls all the utilities but has a general “hands-off” attitude.
Like most such “sleepers” from Bellamy’s tale and its imitators, Junius Cobb becomes a celebrity in the brave new world of the future. The lieutenant is promoted to lieutenant-colonel and is permanently assigned to the White House.
Other descendants of Cobb’s old 1880s friends accompany him on an expedition to fly over the North Pole in a lighter than air vessel.
As time rolls along, Junius becomes filled with regret over letting his ambition and his lust for adventure motivate him to leave behind his true love Marie Colchis. Miraculously, a bronze tube is discovered in Cobb’s home revealing that Jean Colchis let his daughter Marie also place herself in suspended animation back in 1887.
Marie is revived from her sleep on Guadelupe Island and the romance between her and Junius Cobb is rekindled. Best of all, Marie knows how to expand the use of “sympathetic telegraphy” for humanity, bringing on a happy ending for everyone.
In 1911 this novel was republished under the title Back to Life (A.D. 2000).
Despite the flood of similar stories from the time period, A.D. 2000 deserves special credit for coming in ahead of the pack. It’s not earth-shaking but as Bellamy imitations go it makes for a very pleasant read and combines a certain Fairy Tale air with the science fiction storyline.
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/
3 responses to “A.D. 2000 (1890) – ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION”
No Judge Dredd to meet him? This sounds like a unique book to read. You do find the best tales to talk about.
Ha! Thank you. Yep, no Judge Dredd unfortunately, despite the 2000 A.D. title.
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