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The Wreck of the Titan by Morgan Robertson

The Wreck of the Titan (1898)

by Morgan Robertson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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A short, short book – 80 pages and pacey – with the sole claim to fame that, fourteen years before the Titanic disaster of April 1912, it told the story of a grand, hubristic ocean liner called the Titan which, in the author's words, was "considered practically unsinkable" (pg. 4). Proceeding at full-steam across the North Atlantic in April, it hits an iceberg which causes its watertight compartments to flood and the ship sinks. The loss of life is exacerbated by the insufficient number of lifeboats.

Pretty eerie, isn't it – but, in truth, that's all you need to know. The coincidences can merit a quick little Google search to satisfy your curiosity, but that's as far as the book's worth goes. In fact, the Titan and its sinking forms only a small part of this already-short book, and a strange part at that. When you assess and review the book itself and ask whether readers should approach it on its own merits – rather than as a footnote in a Titanic history or an internet listicle – the answer unfortunately has to be a resounding 'no'.

Once the small parts about the Titan itself are accounted for, the rest of the book plunges into clunky melodrama. The dialogue is rotten, the characters tepid and the structure of the story amateurish. Author Morgan Robertson is clearly striving for a moral to the story, but it is laboured and sketchy. More words are given to a post-sinking plotline about insurance fraud, with various suits arguing over points of law, than to the sinking which is the only thing that would capture modern readers' interest. There is a nonsensical romantic plotline and, after the sinking, the book's protagonist is marooned on the iceberg – stoned on hashish – and fights a polar bear. Yes, really. It's a mess. The book is very short (a good thing too, as it is not very good) but almost so short that it reads like a summary of a story than a story.

All of this, to be honest, is irrelevant. No-one reading this book nowadays will be looking for a great little read. They will be looking to satisfy a Titanic-based curiosity. This book is one, and you can knock it out in no time. That is all. ( )
2 vote MikeFutcher | Apr 18, 2018 |
This book is evidence that time travel isXXX coincidences are a real thing. ( )
  neverstopreading | Mar 30, 2018 |
The Gutenberg edition includes another Novella, 'The Pirates' and two shorter pieces, 'Beyond the Spectrum' and 'In the Valley of the Shadow'. I found all four pieces very interesting. Beyond the Spectrum seems to describe lasers, and I found it hard to remember that this was written before WWI, as it seemed to fit the beginning of WWII. An amazing author! ( )
  MarthaJeanne | Sep 1, 2015 |
Got it because of the story accompanying the actual book. As a Titanic afficionado, I had no idea. Quite a good story, with some very interesting elements. Smooth reading as well. ( )
  Hana.Dooren.Richter | Sep 22, 2013 |
This book has been called "a nineteenth-century prophecy" due to its striking similarities to the actual wreck of the Titanic, which occurred fourteen years after this story was published. I had been wanting to read this book for some time to see for myself the "prophetic" story of an 'unsinkable' liner named the Titan which struck an iceberg in the Atlantic one April, whose passengers perished due to a lack of lifeboats. This book wasn't exactly what I thought it'd be, probably since I had books like "A Night to Remember" in mind, where most of the action focused on the time immediately before and after the iceberg was struck. This story, on the other hand, wasted little time (a paragraph?) sinking the ship, and the rest of the book focused on the story of a survivor who beats the odds and rescues the small child of his former love interest.

Despite not meeting my expectations, I actually really liked the story that did take place, as it was a story of personal survival and redemption for the protagonist, who showed a lot more character than I had taken him for initially. ( )
1 vote wnk1029 | Mar 19, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Morgan Robertsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Mansfield, M. F.Authorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0671018191, Hardcover)

First published in 1898, a novel about the sinking of a supposedly unsinkable ocean liner. This fiction contains a series of parallels to the real-life sinking of the Titanic in 1912, but is ostensibly an account of how a disgraced naval officer is thwarted in his plans to expose his greedy employers, by fate and by foul means.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:33 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The Wreck of the Titan was written fourteen years before the sinking of the Titanic. The events in book are eerily similar to the actual events that would not happen for more than a decade. Titan, the largest ship in the line is considered to be unsinkable, it is roughly the same size as the Titanic with about the same number of passengers, it was not provided with enough life boats for all of its passages, and half of the passengers died when it sank after hitting an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean. So similar were the incidents described in the book to the sinking of the Titanic that many people credited the author, Morgan Robertson, with clairvoyance. The Dr. Who episode of the same name was based on the events in this book. A story of tragedy, loss, love and redemption.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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