RARE BOOK GUIDE - THE RUNNERS, THE RIDERS & THE ODDS

02 August 2011

Collecting technological predictions in literature 2


E-books were described by Jules Verne in Paris in the Twentieth Century, which he completed in 1864. Unfortunately, an editor rejected it as ‘ too fantastical ‘ and Verne locked it away in a drawer. In 1994 it was rediscovered in a safe by a descendant, who decided to publish it. The English translation appeared in 1996. In the same novel Verne predicted petrol-powered vehicles, pocket calculators and a ‘ worldwide telegraphic communications’ network. The subway system he described was hardly a prediction---London already had the world’s first in 1864.
“ Michel search for literature, but nothing but technology was available in bookstores “
Copies of the paperback are common enough at around $15.

Legendary science writer Dr Isaac Asimov described an e book in an article ‘The Fun we had’, which appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in February 1954.

“’Gee, said Tommy. ‘What a waste. When you’re through with the book you just throw it away…our television screen must have had a million books on it and it’s good for plenty more. I wouldn’t throw it away. ‘“

Copies of the magazine are probably quite common. You can pay a mere $7 for one on ABE, though one chancer demands $99 for his copy.

Ten years later SF writer Stanilaw Lem wrote about e-books in Return from the Stars (1961)

“ I spent the afternoon in a bookstore. There were no books in it. None had been published for nearly half a century…The bookstore resembled, instead, an electronic laboratory…all my purchase fitted into one pocket, though there must have been almost three hundred titles. “

Copies of the first English translation with jacket are surprisingly cheap at around $16. One copy is priced at a measly $5 on ABE.
[R.M. Healey]

Many thanks Robin. The Verne predictions are almost freakish in their number and accuracy and Lem's bookshop prediction is slightly chilling to one who owns a bookstore. Thanks again Sophie at Money.co.uk and those who have emailed with suggestions.

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