#5 Morgan Robertson Writes About the Titanic… 14 Years Early
A hundred years before James Cameron turned douchebaggery into an art form at the Oscars, American author Morgan Robertson wrote a shitty book called Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan, about the sinking of an “unskinkable” ocean liner. When you see the cover, you figure you’re pretty clearly looking at a fictionalized version of the Titanic story.
No surprise there; it’s a story that’s been told over and over (there were 13 Titanic movies before Cameron’s, including one by the Nazis) but Robertson’s book was first.
He was so eager to be first, apparently, that he didn’t bother to wait for the Titanic to actually sink before writing about it. The Wreck of the Titan was published in 1898, 14 years before RMS Titanic was even finished being [cheaply] built.
The similarities between Robertson’s work and the Titanic disaster are so astounding that one has to imagine if White Star Line built Titanic to Robertson’s specs as a dare. The Titan was described as “the largest craft afloat and the greatest of the works of men,” “equal to that of a first class hotel,” and, of course, “unsinkable”.
Both ships were British-owned steel vessels, both around 800 feet long and sank after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic, in April, “around midnight.” Sound like enough to keep you up at night? Maybe that’s why Robertson republished the book in 1912 just in case enough people didn’t know that he wrote it.
While the novel does bear some curious coincidences with the Titanic disaster, there are quite a few things that Robertson got flat wrong. For one, the Titanic did not crash into an iceberg “400 miles from Newfoundland” at 25 knots. It crashed into an iceberg 400 miles from Newfoundland at 22.5 knots.
Wait, what the fuck? That’s one hell of a lucky guess!