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From the Files of the River Journal's Surrealist Research Bureau

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A Titanic synchronicity

The Sandpoint Public Library has finally got a copy of a book I’ve been searching for for years, Morgan Robertson’s "Futility" or "The Wreck of the Titan," first published in 1898. Scarce first editions can run to $100,000 and more. Why such interest in a book that not only bombed, but was written in an overwrought style of Victorian excess?

Morgan’s book told the story of the sinking of the Titan, a ship considered unsinkable, displacing 70,000 tons, with four funnels and three propellers, with over a thousand lives lost due to a lack of lifeboats, and which sank in the month of April at midnight after striking an iceberg.

Sound familiar?

There are many other remarkable similarities in the book to the actual sinking, 14 years later, of the Titanic, and whether it’s an example of luck, coincidence, or (as many believe) prophecy, it’s still an impressive collection of eerie facts. (Simply google variations on Titan/Titanic shipwrecks and a few cool websites should pop up you can check out for yourself).

I sure wouldn’t recommend the book as a good one to read; it reminds me too much of the likewise otherwise execrable Horatio Alger novels. Little is known of Morgan R. himself, though one of the joys of researching little-known tidbits like this is the chance discovery that, a few scant years after "Wreck of the Titan" was published, he came out with another novel "The Spectrum War" which has as its basic plot a surprise attack by the Japanese on the Hawaiian Islands in the month of December which precipitates a war in which a new type of bomb is dropped from the air, just one of which could destroy an entire city in a single blinding flash of light. Morgan called this new bomb a "Sun Bomb" and when the book was written, airplanes were still fragile, one-man tiny machines that crashed more often than not. They had not yet appeared in warfare, and it was decades before the Germans started their heavy water experiments trying to construct a nuclear device.

I’ve not been able to locate a copy of "Spectrum" as I write and, as I mentioned before, "Wreck of the Titan" is a lousy read. If ever a book cried out for an introduction, a foreword, afterword, or even a couple of blurbs, this is it, but all it has is a notice that it’s a reprint of the 1898 edition and is now in the public domain. Still, it is finally available in the Sandpoint Library and if I ever locate a copy of "Spectrum War" I’ll give you a report on it as well.

One final odd note: while it’s not known just how Morgan came to write his "fiction," his "Titanic" novel has a few curious pages in which the book’s hero is blissed-out on opium and marijuana (both legal in those quaint, halcyon days) and has a number of visions in which the author appears to have far more than just a casual knowledge of the effects of those and other mind-altering drugs.

Weird News Update: CNN has been running snippets a lot lately of over two minutes of fairly high quality recent video footage of the "Loch Ness Monster." For a chance to check out the whole video there’s a number of websites you can find by simply google-ing "recent loch ness video" or you can go to my own favorite for all things cryptozoological here; which even has updates on the latest "Hogzilla" (giant wild boar) shooting (1,200 pounds this time, with some great photos of the beast!) as well as our strange aquatic neighbor to the north, British Columbia’s Lake Okanagan’s Ogopogo, which actually has more sightings of its monster listed than does Loch Ness!

A final note to this column, it may be my last one! I’ve been exchanging e-mails with the Nigerian Ministry of Oil in which, while I won’t bore you with the details, in exchange for the temporary use of my bank account to deposit some hundreds of millions of dollars in oil revenue funds, I should soon have enough money to change the name of Sandpoint to Palookaville, (or Xena-ville, I’m not sure yet). Look for it soon! Andfinally, remember, we have joined the word Surrealist to the word Movement in order to show the disinterested, detached, and even absolutely despairing nature of this movement!

‘til next time, Yours for a Strong America!

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Jody Forest Jody Forest When he's not hidden behind the palatial gates of his Dover estate, Casa de Bozo, Jody is out using outdated and corny pickup lines on various gullible women.

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