Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan

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Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan

Postby Captain ACS » Sun Sep 04, 2011 4:46 am

The first half of Futility introduces the hero, John Rowland. Rowland is a disgraced former Royal Navy lieutenant, who is now a drunkard and has fallen to the lowest levels of society. Dismissed from the Navy, he is working as a deckhand on the Titan. The ship hits the iceberg and sinks somewhat before the halfway point of the novel. The second half follows Rowland, as he saves the young daughter of a former lover by jumping onto the iceberg with her. After a number of adventures, in which he fights a polar bear and finds a lifeboat washed up on the iceberg, he is eventually rescued by a passing ship and, over several years, works his way up to a lucrative Government job restoring his former income and position in society. In the closing lines of the story he receives a message from his former lover, pleading for him to visit her and her daughter.

Similarities between Titanic and Titan:
Unsinkable-
The Titanic was the world's largest luxury liner (882 feet, displacing 53,000 long tons), and was once described as being practically "unsinkable".
The Titan was the largest craft afloat and the greatest of the works of men (800 feet, displacing 75,000 tons), and was considered "unsinkable".
Lifeboats-
The Titanic carried only 16 lifeboats, plus 4 Engelhardt folding lifeboats,[3] less than half the number required for her passenger capacity of 3000.
The Titan carried "as few as the law allowed", 24 lifeboats, less than half needed for her 3000 capacity.
Struck an iceberg-
Moving too fast at 22½ knots, the Titanic struck an iceberg on the starboard side on the night of April 14, 1912 in the North Atlantic 400 miles away from Newfoundland.
Also on an April night, in the North Atlantic 400 miles from Newfoundland (Terranova), the Titan hit an iceberg while traveling at 25 knots, also on the starboard side.
The Unsinkable Sank-
The unsinkable Titanic sank, and more than half of her 2200 passengers died.
The indestructible Titan also sank, more than half of her 2500 passengers drowning.
Went down bow first, the Titan actually capsizing before it sank.
The names being similar (Titan = Titanic - ic)
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Re: Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan

Postby VW1956 » Sun Sep 04, 2011 5:14 pm

Hello Captain ACS. Thanks for the story of that book. I have never read it so knew nothing of what the story was about. I believe (from what I have read on this new forum) that some of the details were changed after 1912 to match up a bit more with the Titanic tradgedy. Ken.
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Re: Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan

Postby Andrew Clarkson » Mon Sep 05, 2011 2:44 pm

VW1956 wrote:Hello Captain ACS. Thanks for the story of that book. I have never read it so knew nothing of what the story was about. I believe (from what I have read on this new forum) that some of the details were changed after 1912 to match up a bit more with the Titanic tradgedy. Ken.


Tut Tut! You can of course read then here on the site!

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Re: Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan

Postby jerauf » Mon Sep 05, 2011 3:16 pm

But, the question is, what are the similarities in the ORIGINAL printing as opposed to what Robertson revised after the Titanic disaster.
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Re: Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan

Postby VW1956 » Tue Sep 06, 2011 8:58 am

Hello Jerauf. If you want to know what the similarities are in the original version there is a copy for sale at Bicentennial Books in Kalamazoo. MI. USA. It is priced at only $18,500 or £11,788.48p in English money. So I guess we can all keep wondering. Ken.
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Re: Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan

Postby Dave Gittins » Tue Sep 06, 2011 10:15 am

The changes made were quite minor. Here's a bit from my e-book.

In 1898, the book made little impression, but in 1912, after the sinking, it was re-published by McClure’s Magazine and Metropolitan Magazine of New York as The Wreck of the Titan. In this edition, the displacement and power of the fictional ship were increased, until they considerably exceeded those of Titanic. Displacement rose from 45,000 tons to 70,000 tons and power from 40,000 horsepower to 75,000. This book of second-guess prophecy proved no more lasting than the original. It was soon was forgotten by all but a few enthusiasts. Following James Cameron’s 1997 film, Titanic, it was hastily reprinted in 1998.


The last page of the book was also changed, though that has nothing to do with Titanic. It originally ended at the words "the importance of women and whisky". Robertson added---

But he was wrong, for in six months he received a letter which, in part, read as follows:[69]

"Do not think me indifferent or ungrateful. I have watched from a distance while you made your wonderful fight for your old standards. You have won, and I am glad and I congratulate you. But Myra will not let me rest. She asks for you continually and cries at times. I can bear it no longer. Will you not come and see Myra?"

And the man went to see—Myra.
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Re: Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan

Postby jerauf » Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:20 pm

And then what happened?!!
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Re: Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan

Postby Captain ACS » Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:20 am

jerauf wrote:And then what happened?!!


Unclear what happened...I've never read this book (I just took the information off of Wikipedia's article)
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Re: Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan

Postby Dave Gittins » Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:59 am

Use your imagination. That's the end of the story. Myra was the child rescued by Rowland after the sinking.
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Re: Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan

Postby Dave Gittins » Fri Aug 02, 2013 7:28 am

Today I found a new reprint of the 1912 version that readers may like.

It's from Heritage Press Ltd of London and was published in 2012. It's special point is an interesting introduction by Sam Leith, a British journalist and author. He discusses Robertson's way of writing and various features, good and bad, of the book.
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Re: Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan

Postby shipbuilder » Tue Aug 06, 2013 12:45 pm

I am afraid this “book” has been hyped up greatly and is not actually all it is made out to be!
I got one last night. (Free download).
It is NOT a novel about the sinking of the Titan, it is a book containing four short stories, of which the Titan is one.
The Titan story is only 47 pages in length!
It is not the ships maiden voyage, it is the 3rd voyage.
On page 7, they collide with a cargo ship, chopping it in two and do not stop to pick up survivors!
On Page 10, the captain bribes everyone who was aware of the collision to keep quite.
The drunken hero, disgraced naval officer Rowland is a seaman aboard, but refuses the bribe.
His old flame is aboard with her husband and child.
On page 18, the Titan hits an iceberg, rolls over and sinks (sinking complete by page 21!)
Rowland is stranded on the iceberg with the child.
They are attacked by a polar bear that Rowland kills, sustaining severe injury to left arm.
Then follows a bit of religious reflection from the Aetheist Rowland, followed by a bit of praying.
Hardly has prayer been completed, but they are rescued by a barque and taken to Christiansand
Rowland’s arm amputated, but two months later, he delivers the child safely back to her mother who is now a widow as her husband drowned in the wreck!
She accuses him of kidnapping the child (Myra) and he is taken to court, but found not guilty when the story comes out.
He has now given up the demon drink and manages to work his way up to a good job as some sort of secretary. Two years later, his old fame writes to him saying her child, Myra, is continually crying for him to visit. He goes!
The story then ends, leaving us to assume that they live happily ever after!
Not really much resemblance to the Titanic story at all!
Name of ship was just coincidence and the sinking a minor part in the plot!
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Re: Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan

Postby VW1956 » Thu Aug 08, 2013 7:41 pm

Hello Bob. Thanks for that. That was a big saving of time reading it your way. Ken.
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