TALES OF TWENTY HUNDRED (1911-1912) – Written by William Wallace Cook, originally serialized in the monthly publication Blue Book Magazine from December of 1911 to May of 1912. This is Balladeer’s Blog’s third look at a work by THE William Wallace Cook and in this case it’s a six-part serial consisting of a half-dozen interconnected short(ish) stories.
PART ONE: THE BILLION DOLLAR CARGO (December 1911) – The year is 2050 A.D. Airships run by solar energy fill the skies while land vehicles are powered by radium engines. At hospitals “germicide treatments” can heal people of virtually any illness. Mind-reading machines called psychographs are used to read the thoughts of people who are on trial.
The United States, Great Britain, Japan, Germany, Austria and the nations of Scandinavia comprise a huge geopolitical entity called the Quadruple Alliance. That alliance’s greatest global rival is the Federated States of South America, made up of the nations of Central and South America.
Geo-engineering on a massive scale has become possible. Wealthy industrialist Vincent Blake has already completed a project involving the elimination of the Aleutian Islands to allow the warmer waters of the Pacific Ocean to turn the Arctic region into a place with more moderate temperatures. Hilariously, this is depicted as having no adverse effects on the planet. (Hey, it’s a 1911 story.)
Next on the schedule for Blake is an even more ambitious project – he plans to straighten the Earth’s axis and provide mild summer conditions year-round all over the world. This type of absurd notion was also featured in the 1894 book A Journey in Other Worlds, previously reviewed here at Balladeer’s Blog.
In that earlier story the establishment of year-round moderate weather was presented as a fait accompli and had had no negative side-effects. In this tale the Federated States of South America are convinced that Vincent Blake’s project will negatively impact them and launch violent plans to stop him. Continue reading
ADRIFT IN THE UNKNOWN (1904) – Written by William Wallace Cook (like our previous story), this tale was originally serialized in Argosy magazine from December of 1904 to April of 1905. Our previous Cook story dealt with time travel, while this one deals with space exploration.
Burglar Peter Munn stumbles onto a meeting between scientist Professor Quinn and the four Robber Barons he has invited to his home. Those guests are Meigs the Wall Street Baron, Gilhooley the Railroad Baron, Popham the Coal Baron and Markham, who has cornered the market in food supply profiteering.
The uninvited Munn winds up taken along for the ride when the civic-minded Quinn reveals that his home is really a spaceship coated with antigravity paint and flies off with the reluctant tycoons in tow. Eventually the space travelers land on the planet Mercury. Continue reading
A ROUND TRIP TO THE YEAR 2000 aka A FLIGHT THROUGH TIME (1903) – Written by THE William Wallace Cook, this story was originally serialized in Argosy magazine from July through November of 1903.
A Round Trip to the Year 2000 has the same light-hearted, jocular approach that we associate with the Back to the Future movies. The fact that the time travel device is a reconfigured automobile adds another similarity.
In the year 1900, New York author Emerson Lumley has written a book about the possible uses of the subconscious mind. A criminal took advantage of Lumley’s methods in the book to hypnotize the author into robbing a bank and Emerson is now on the run from the law, with his most dogged pursuer being police detective Jasper Klinch.
Lumley is contemplating suicide when he receives help from the midget scientist named Dr Alonso Kelpie. The good doctor takes Emerson to the laboratory on his estate. He offers Lumley the chance to drive Kelpie’s newly-invented time-coupe into the future, specifically the year 2000. In return Alonso wants his chrononaut to bring back assorted information when the coast is clear.
Since Lumley was already on the verge of ending his life anyway, he agrees to be the human guinea pig for Dr Kelpie’s time-car. Just as he’s driving off to the future, however, the relentless Detective Klinch shows up and leaps into the vehicle beside our hero.
The pair grapple as the car drives through the time-stream and Lumley knocks Klinch off the car and into the year 1950 while he continues the trip to the year 2000. Continue reading