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Tuesday, 1 August 2023


We all know the sad plight of the recent Ocean Gate expedition - to explore the wreckage of the sunken ship SS Titanic.In fact for the last few decades wealthy and adventurous tourists have been paying heavily to catch a the glimpse of the wreck of the luxury ocean liner. This reminds me of a novel titled 'Futility' about which I want to share with you.This spins around one John Rowald who was in the US Navy but dismissed from service due to alcoholism.To make a living John joins a  mighty British ocean liner called 'Titan' as a deck machinery assistant.The ship collides accidently with a floating iceberg in North Atlantic Sea. Then only like others in the ship, John understands that the number of lifeboats arranged in the ship is much lower to what is actually required! The ship sinks to bottom of the sea eventually!

Does this story remind you  particularly of the actual story of 'The Titanic', the unsinkable ship ? Yes,it does. But when you note that this novel "Futility" was first published in 1898, fourteen years before 'The Titanic' was launched to sea  in  1912,one will be surprised obviously.

What the American author of many short stories and novels named Morgan Robertson did was exactly that. The poor chap never made a claim to be astrologic when the Titanic hit the bottom of the Atlantic.He always thought that the actual wreck of SS Titanic was just a coincidence to one of his stories!In spite of  this creation in fact he failed to make a living as a professional writer until his death. Believe it, he had given an alternative title to this particular book- 'The Wreck Of Titan' which is getting popular among readers these days! Man makes plans but God laughs...is an Yiddish proverb.


The 'Titan' and the 'Titanic' - the similarities are more than to be ignored...

The movie 'Titanic' of 1997 is one of the all time high box office hits ever made.Based on the actual story of one of the worst but biggest shipwrecks we ever had, I am not going to elaborate it once again since it is too well known. Commencing the maiden journey from Southampton, UK on April 10, 1912, the liner hits an iceberg on April 14 culminating in the drowning of 1517 passengers out of 2224.The main reason was that there were not enough lifeboats in the ship for safety although the ship is believed to have the best ever of that time!

Quite interestingly Robertson has written in his story a lot of similarities about the actual ship Titanic 14 years before it took the maiden journey.The very name of the ship was 'Titan' which was closer enough to the actual 'Titanic'! Both are described as the biggest ships of that time and could take a speed of 20 knots. Both were 'unsinkable'! The mishap was taking place in North Atlantic. Though Robertson is an American writer he envisaged the story to take place in a British liner. Hitting on an iceberg and shortage of lifeboats are the other two close similarities- one story and the other factual history. 

                      Morgan Robertson                                                       Periscope
Once the tragic end of the 'Titanic' came out in the press,Robertson got a lot of publicity.He was more known as a clairvoyant- one who claims to predict the future, which Robertson strongly denied.It was a strange coincidence according to him. And Robertson being an expert on maritime trends might have influenced him while writing the stories.

Inventor of Periscope ?
Periscope is an instrument fitted in a submarine which allows the vessel to see targets when submerged, if you don't know.Robertson is believed to have claimed to have tried for the patent of a Periscope.In any case he has described about a Periscope in his novel named 'The Submarine Destroyer' in 1905 and also in other few fictional creations.