Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hugo Gernsback. The Upcoming Centennial of Ralph 124C 41+. The Greatest Ever Work of Futurism

April 2011 will be the one-hundred year anniversary of the greatest work of futurism ever written, Hugo Gernsback's Ralph 124C 41+ (itself a play on words). It appeared in twelve consecutive installments in Gernsback's pioneer electrical journal Modern Electrics. Here is the first issue of that publication:

While the plot of the story has been (rightfully) criticized as amateurish, the greatness of the work lies in Gernsback's prophetic vision of the future. Jules Verne and aother authors might have fallen upon isolated futuristic creations but the panoply of incredible and accurate predictions in "Ralph" far exceeds any other work. The story is the first to describe, among others, television (and channel surfing), remote-control power transmission, the video phone, transcontinental air service, solar energy in practical use, sound movies, synthetic milk and foods, artificial cloth, voiceprinting, tape recorders, and spaceflight. It also contains "...the first accurate description of radar, complete with diagram..."

The easiest way to appreciate this amazing (an adjective used by Gernsback on the first ever magazine devoted to science-fiction, a term coined by.... you guessed it, Hugo Gernsback)

The first issue of Amazing Stories

work is to show the covers of the serial for you to appreciate, each an illustration from the story. It would take a many years of intensive searching to put together a run. The book edition did not appear until 1925.
I have grabbed a few images from the web for comparison to help you appreciate the uncanny nature of the work.
The first image of television!

This one in particular blows me away! We still have a few more years to go until solar fields are a widespead reality. Remember, the above image was published in 1911!
You need not go further that any NFL broadcast to see a woman wearing a similar apparatus.
If you still don't understand why present day science-fiction awards are called "Hugo's", here is the first magazine issue devoted to science-fiction and a few other of Gernsback's publications from my collection.
The first magazine devoted to television- 1927!
The man in the picture is Gernsback himself, watching the invention he first predicted and whose name he coined.