Before the Titanic sank in 1912, John Jacob Astor IV envisioned a future with maglev trains, a police force equipped with cameras, and an interconnected network of phones, solar power, wind power, and air travel.
Focusing on Richard Ayrault, a stockholder of the Terrestrial Axis Straightening Company, A Journey in Other Worlds takes readers across the solar system to Jupiter and Saturn. On Jupiter, Astor creates a fantastically outsize world of gushing volcanoes, crashing waterfalls, and otherworldly flora and fauna. In contrast, his Saturn is an introspective and philosophical land. (Publication Date: January 27, 2015 Open Road Media –Free for now; only 99 cents otherwise)
HarperPerennial Classics* offers their own ebook version:
….Published in 1894, A Journey in Other Worlds is a fictional account of life in the year 2000, speculating about such outlandish things as solar power, space travel, and a worldwide telephone network. Seeking other habitable planets, the spaceship Callisto embarks on a tour of the solar system that takes it to Jupiter, a wilderness paradise, and Saturn, where secrets about the fate of man are revealed. Both wildly imaginative and oddly prescient, A Journey in Other Worlds gives remarkable insight into how the future was viewed at the cusp of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Often dubbed “Jack Ass” in the press, John Jacob Astor IV (1864–1912) was an American businessman, real estate builder, investor, inventor, writer, lieutenant colonel in the Spanish-American War, and a prominent member of the Astor family. He invented a bicycle brake and a pneumatic road-improver, helped develop a turbine engine, and built the Astoria Hotel. In 1898 he placed his yacht Nourmahal at the disposal of the U.S. government and equipped a mountain battery of artillery for use against the Spanish. He also ditched his first wife to marry a woman who was one year younger than his own son.
Here’s a biography of John the first:
John Jacob Astor (July 17, 1763 – March 29, 1848), born Johann Jakob Astor, was a German-born American businessman, merchant, fur trader, and investor who was the first prominent member of the Astor family and the first multi-millionaire in the United States. He was the creator of the first trust in America. He moved to England as a teenager, where he worked as a musical instrument manufacturer. Astor later went to the United States after the American Revolutionary War and built a fur-trading empire that extended to the Great Lakes region and Canada, and later expanded into the American West and Pacific coast. In the early 19th century, he diversified into New York City real estate and later became a famed patron of the arts.
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