Morgan Robertson Writes About the Titanic… 14 Years Early

 

A hundred years before James Cameron turned douchebaggery into an art form at the Oscars, American author Morgan Robertson wrote a shitty book called Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan, about the sinking of an “unsinkable” ocean liner. When you see the cover, you figure you’re pretty clearly looking at a fictionalized version of the Titanic story.

No surprise there; it’s a story that’s been told over and over (there were 13 Titanic movies before Cameron’s, including one by the Nazis) but Robertson’s book was first.

Where it Gets Weird:

He was so eager to be first, apparently, that he didn’t bother to wait for the Titanic to actually sink before writing about it. The Wreck of the Titan was published in 1898, 14 years before RMS Titanic was even finished being [cheaply] built.

The similarities between Robertson’s work and the Titanic disaster are so astounding that one has to imagine if White Star Line built Titanic to Robertson’s specs as a dare. The Titan was described as “the largest craft afloat and the greatest of the works of men,” “equal to that of a first class hotel,” and, of course, “unsinkable”.

Both ships were British-owned steel vessels, both around 800 feet long and sank after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic, in April, “around midnight.” Sound like enough to keep you up at night? Maybe that’s why Robertson republished the book in 1912 just in case enough people didn’t know that he wrote it.


And you thought this guy was an ass.

Where it Gets Even Weirder:

While the novel does bear some curious coincidences with the Titanic disaster, there are quite a few things that Robertson got flat wrong. For one, the Titanic did not crash into an iceberg “400 miles from Newfoundland” at 25 knots. It crashed into an iceberg 400 miles from Newfoundland at 22.5 knots.

Wait, what the fuck? That’s one hell of a lucky guess!


What 41.1 million square miles looks like.

But maybe the weirdest thing about Titan were points that had nothing to do with the story, but check out after numerous inquires and expeditions to the Titanic wreck site.

For one, both the Titan and the Titanic had too few lifeboats to accommodate every passenger on board; the Titan carrying “as few as the law allowed.” While Robertson decided to be generous and include four lifeboats more on his ship than Titanic, it’s an odd point to bring up when you consider that lifeboats had nothing to do with the fucking story. When Titan hit the iceberg (starboard bow, naturally), the ship sank immediately, making the point made about lifeboats inconsequential. Why the fuck mention this?!

It’d be like HAL 9000 addressing the danger posed by O-rings at low temperature decades before the Challenger disaster.

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