Sunday, February 22, 2004

Here's something I thought was interesting. It's called The Dominion in 1983 and it's a 1883 pamphlet by one "Ralph Centennius". Mr. Centennius is visualising Canada 100 years in the future, when it will be the most wonderful place imaginable with the help of a few deus ex machinas. Of course, what you learn from the book is what sort of thoughts preoccupied people in 1883. There's an awful lot of talk about transport; seems we would be using some sort of "rocket cars" to travel around the world in just minutes. Check out the various bits of "scientific" predictions Mr. Centennius makes; people at that time must have been fascinated by the power of electricity, since it turns up so often. Note that he predicts something resembling an atomic bomb, which was to put an end to war when the whole lot of European princes got blown up by these oxyhydrogen bombs in 1932. He also predicts a sort of First World War in Europe, to kill four million soldiers, in the late 1880s. Mr. Centennius is quite vague about how social problems are going to be fixed up; seems that a all-wise self-appointed Society of Benefactors, rather as in Plato's Republic, will take it upon themselves to make everything perfect. People, overcome by the society's loving wisdom, will all behave rationally and kindly.

The brash and arrogant United States, by the way, is riding for a fall and will ultimately rejoin the United Empire; the first section of the book reflects Mr. Centennius's fear of annexation by the US, which will fortunately be avoided when the American / Fenian army and fleet trying to invade British Columbia is sunk by a hurricane two miles out of San Francisco. (But if it had come to war, the Canadians would certainly have won, though outnumbered three to one, due to their nobility and high morale.)

Oh, yeah, English will be the universal language, and Britain will peacefully annex the whole Middle East without a drop of blood being shed.

Check this one out. It's quite short. It's a "Gutenberg" text, so you have to scroll down through a lot of crap before you get to the pamphlet itself.

No comments: