BABYLON ELECTRIFIED (1888) – Written by Albert Bleunard. In the tradition of his fellow Frenchman, Jules Verne, Bleunard crafted this work of science fiction with an international cast.
British magnate Sir James Badger wants to reestablish old trade routes leading from Europe eastward through Mesopotamia and the Persian Gulf. He and his associates plan a railroad but lack of coal in sufficient quantities seems to be a project-killer.
Jack Adams, one of Badger’s colleagues, recommends the new invention of a French electrical engineer and inventor named Cornille. This inventor has designed a method of generating electricity from sunlight aka solar power. He agrees to let his technology be used to construct an electric train for the railroad project.
Things get underway, with hydroelectric dams built in the mountains of Kurdistan and wind plus tidal power-stations set up in the Persian Gulf. Cornille’s solar tech will be used for the overwhelming majority of the territory to be covered. Continue reading
LOOKING FORWARD: A DREAM OF THE UNITED STATES IN 1999 (1899) – Written by Arthur Bird. This is speculative science fiction looking at world events and scientific advances from 1899 to 1999. Since the U.S. was coming off the 1898 war with Spain that accounts for the way Spain is presented as the major villain on the global scene.
In 1912 Mexico became part of the United States followed by Peru in 1920, Canada in 1930 and by 1935 the U.S. consists of the entire Western Hemisphere. Mexico City – now renamed Washington – has become the new capital of the expanded United States.
America and Great Britain retain their “special relationship” and in this book’s depiction of 1999 the U.K. is ruled by King Alexander II. Britain never lost its old colonies and in fact drove the French, Germans, Belgians and Spanish out of Africa to absorb the entire continent.
France itself was annexed as a German province after losing wars to Germany in 1907 and 1935. Russia conquered China and now rules all of Asia, while Spain – the epitome of evil in this book’s view – has been reduced to a war-torn wasteland following a World War. Continue reading
BIETIGHEIM (1886) – Published anonymously in 1886 this work of alternate history accurately predicted some of the actual results and fallout of the coming First World War (1914-1918). Bietigheim is presented as a series of John Minor lectures about world history as seen from “futuristic” 1932.
First off, a summary of the book’s accurate predictions:
a) Tensions between Germany and assorted other nations cause a war that sweeps up many of the Great Powers as well as several other countries.
b) American entry into the war proves decisive.
c) The German side loses the war.
d) The old European monarchies fall.
e) In the wake of Germany’s defeat a popular figure arises and rallies millions to him with his plans for the future of Europe and Russia.
Just before the 1890 outbreak of the war Germany and France are pushing their claims to Alsace-Lorraine, Italy is demanding Austria turn over portions of northern Italy, Great Britain and Russia are clashing over preeminence in India and Afghanistan, plus the Slavic nations are feuding with the Ottoman Muslim Turks over their own future and control of the Dardanelles. Continue reading
THE STRANGE MANUSCRIPT BY _________ M.D. (1881) -Written by Alexander Pitts Bettersworth. The mock author, an M.D. who remains anonymous, upon learning that a comet will strike the Earth in 1883, stores supplies in Mammoth Cave with the help of his black servant Josh. With most of humanity dismissing the threat as a hoax or a mistake, the only other people who join them in the cave are a young woman named Ida and her black servant Chloe.
The foursome survive the collision with the comet as well as the intense heat which causes some of the rock interior of the cave to melt. When the entrance to the cave indicates that the air temperature has cooled sufficiently the two couples – now romantically involved – venture forth to see what is left of our planet. Continue reading
FARMING IN THE YEAR 2000 A.D. (1890) – Written by Edward Berwick. Just when you thought it was safe to read speculative science fiction about life in the future without Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward being referenced, along comes this entry from the Overland Monthly‘s Twentieth Century special.
Where Bellamy focused on city living, this item details an idyllic future specifically from the agricultural angle. All of civilization has become vegetarian, so with no need for grazing land for cattle much more acreage is devoted to raising crops. High-tech machinery cares for and harvests the bounty. Continue reading
3,000 MILES THROUGH THE CLOUDS (1892) – Written by Francis W Doughty under a house pseudonym for The Boys of New York magazine, serialized from February 13th to April 2nd.
This story starts out like an imitation of Verne’s Mysterious Island but then becomes its own tale after a while. The action starts in 1864 when Union prisoners in the Confederacy’s infamously hellish Libby Prison make their escape led by Captain Mark Wilbur. Their escape by balloon is aided by a sympathetic Confederate.
A storm blows our main characters – Mark, Noel Dupuy and their African-American friend Sam Sandyman – 3,000 miles to the north, where they finally come down into a crater that leads to a subterranean world. They discover a deserted futuristic city overflowing with jewels and precious metals. Continue reading
THE LUNARIAN PROFESSOR AND HIS REMARKABLE REVELATIONS CONCERNING THE EARTH, THE MOON AND MARS TOGETHER WITH AN ACCOUNT OF THE CRUISE OF THE SALLY ANN (1909) – Written by James B Alexander back in the glory days of titles so long they might not fit in a 140 character limit.
The story is set in 1892, when James Alexander pretends that, while on a fishing trip he encountered a humanoid with a head like a globe, six limbs, large eyes and six wings. The being claims to be a “Lunarian,” a man from our moon.
He is a professor and informs Alexander that he and his fellow Lunarians travel from planet to planet by manipulating gravity. They live in vast underground caverns on the moon, caverns with a breathable atmosphere. Their mastery of gravity is the key to their advanced technology.
The professor’s people have been observing Earth for an untold amount of time. James Alexander even learns that in the distant past humans had to fight intelligently evolving reptiles for planetary supremacy. The cavemen won.
The Lunarians grow vegetation in hydroponic trays and dispose of their dead through a disintegration process that breaks the bodies down into their base elements, thus nothing gets wasted. Continue reading