- In 1898 American author Morgan Robertson (1861 – 1915) published a novel Futility. In that story a large British passenger liner called the Titan, deemed unsinkable, collides with an iceberg in the North Atlantic in April and sinks. With insufficient lifeboats, nearly everyone on board perishes. In April 1912 the RMS Titanic sank in the North Atlantic after colliding with an iceberg. There was a substantial loss of life as a result of insufficient lifeboats.
- In 1905 a book by Robertson, The Submarine Destroyer, described a submarine that used a device called a “periscope”. Robertson claimed he had invented a prototype periscope years earlier but had been refused a patent, although other claimants maintained that tney likewise had invented the device 3 years before the publication of the novel.
- In 1914 in a volume that also contained a new version of Futility, he included a short story Beyond the Spectrum in which the United States goes to war with Japan. Instead of declaring war, Japan launches sneak attacks on US ships en route to the Philippines and Hawaii. A Japanese invasion fleet that seeks to make a surprise attack on San Francisco is stopped by a secret weaspon, an ultraviolet searchlight that creates symptoms similar to those from an atomic bomb.
The Titanic under construction - click on photo to enlarge.