Astor, John Jacob

Tagged: Author

(1864-1912) US businessman, inventor and author, great-grandson of the celebrated fur trader; he was one of four authors of sf (the others are Jacques Futrelle, F D Millet and W T Stead) known to have gone down with the Titanic. His A Journey in Other Worlds: A Romance of the Future (1894) features an Antigravity device – "apergy", borrowed from Percy Greg's Across the Zodiac (1880) – that powers a craft in a tour of the solar system in 2000 CE. Earth itself is a Utopia dominated by a capitalistic America, the countries of Europe having succumbed to socialism; one of the protagonists of the tale runs the Terrestrial Axis Straightening Company whose goal is to rectify Earth's axis. Jupiter is a kind of prehistoric Eden, with primitive life-forms galore, and mineral resources free to exploit. Saturn is a kind of Heaven, and generates much mystical speculation, the journey ultimately having as much to do with theological allegory as with scientific prophecy or the theory of parallel Evolution. [JC]

see also: Outer Planets; Power Sources; Religion; Weather Control.

Colonel John Jacob Astor IV

born Rhinebeck, New York: 13 July 1864

died at sea, following the wreck of the Titanic: 15 April 1912

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