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Ralph 124C 41+: A Romance of the Year 2660

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2.83  ·  Rating details ·  235 ratings  ·  40 reviews
By the year 2660, science has transformed and conquered the world, rescuing humanity from itself. Spectacular inventions from the farthest reaches of space and deep beneath the earth are available to meet every need, providing antidotes to individual troubles and social ills. Inventors are highly prized and respected, and they are jealously protected and lavishly cared for ...more
Paperback, 322 pages
Published September 1st 2000 by Bison Books (first published 1911)
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Nicholas Whyte
http://nhw.livejournal.com/852938.html[return][return]Brian Aldiss blames Gernsback for taking sf away from the literary tradition established by Mary Shelley, and reading this, the Luxembourg-born author's only well-known work of fiction, I can see why Aldiss accuses Gernsback of "a deadening literalism"; and yet I can also understand why the Worldcon hands out Hugos rather than Shelleys.[return][return]This fairly short novel was written in 1911, and concerns Ralph 124C 41+, the greatest inven ...more
Leothefox
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This 1911 work of science fiction is a building block in the genre and in many ways it was worth the read. The book is largely a series of predictions about scientific progress in future centuries including entertainment, agriculture, medicine, and space travel. It's all pulled together with a romance as the world renowned scientist of the title shows his new girlfriend around future New York.

In reading this I found myself drawing comparisons with another early science-fiction work, namely “Acr
...more
Warren Fournier
Like his contemporary John Campbell, Gernsback was a visionary and a businessman more than a writer. His novel circulated in one of his electronics publications in order to stimulate the imaginations of the kinds of folks he assumed would be reading such things: tinkerers, problem-solvers, do-it-yourselfers, engineers, scientists, and investors. He hoped to find tomorrow's inventors. Therefore, this novel is really just exposition on what kinds of things he wanted in his magazines. And that's ex ...more
Rebecca
Sep 12, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I put this on "Want to Read" because there wasn't a slot for "tried and hated it." I usually never give up reading something I've started. But life is too short to read this. The copy I have (a reprint from 1958) lauds it as "prophetic" and says that no one since Jules Verne has done such a good job forecasting the future.

Well, about 25% of the way in, I can say that the author seems completely wrong about almost everything (except video communication). The women are fluffy and unrealistic. The
...more
Benjamin
Jun 05, 2015 rated it did not like it
Some might consider Gernsback the founding figure of American science fiction (the Hugo Awards are named after him). This would be due to his launching popular general science and pulp fiction magazines in the early 1900s rather than his skill as a writer.

Ralph 124C 41+ is one of the earliest American science fiction novels and is firmly in the "techno-utopia" vision in which the plot is merely a device to extend the catalog of inventions and predictions. Some of his ideas have come true - solar
...more
Mike
I remember reading about this book in histories of SF. No doubt groundbreaking for its time, it's heavy on the infodumps, and the plot is minimal and predictable. The sole female character (as far as I got - I was too bored to continue past 69%) is there to be an object of male fantasy, a McGuffin, and someone to infodump to, rather than a person in her own right.

All of the speculation is about technological rather than sociological change, though Gernsback must have lived through sociological
...more
Sonic
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This really is terrible. Starts off with some good predictions, then mansplains the future forever.
Roddy Williams
‘By the year 2660, science has transformed and conquered the world, rescuing humanity from itself. Spectacular inventions from the farthest reaches of space and deep beneath the earth are available to meet every need, providing antidotes to individual troubles and social ills. Inventors are highly prized and respected, and they are jealously protected and lavishly cared for by world governments. That support and acclaim, however – as the most brilliant of scientists Ralph 124c 41+, discovers – i ...more
Steve Joyce

Wonder!! ...why in the world Martians can't marry Earthlings!

Awe!! ...is not what you'll experience when you read of Ralph 124C 41+ showing Alice 212B 423 around Wheat Farm No. D1569!

Amazement!! ...will fill your mind if your tired eye-balls make it to the end of this novel!

If Hugo Gernsback had promoted his own fiction in the first pages of Amazing Stories instead of that of H. G. Wells, Jules Verne and Edgar Allen Poe, one has to question just how far the newly-dubbed genre would have caught o
...more
Wreade1872
A pulpy sci-fi romance. The first half is really just a tour of New York circa 2660 and a chance to show off various sci-fi inventions. Its quite interesting if a little dry at times. The second-half is more devoted to the romance adventure, as Ralph has to deal with two rivals who are in love with his girlfriend. Its surprisingly gripping and with a real sense of danger.
The sci-fi stuff is mostly based on outmoded scientific principals but that didn't bother me. A small complaint, it would ha
...more
Paul Waring
Jun 15, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: mcrsf
A strong contender for the worst book I've ever read. Sexist (helpless female protagonist who falls in love with genius scientist immediately), racist (antagonists are a Martian and a man whose only description is that he is black, and is referred to as 'that black man', frightening etc.) and spectacularly tedious. Yes, the author made some guesses ('predictions' is too strong a word) about future developments which turned out to be accurate, but given the numbers involved a few matches were ine ...more
John
Jan 10, 2016 rated it did not like it
Historical curiosity, leaden prose, some interesting predictions, amusing portmanteaus. The scene at the Appetizer has to be read to be believed.
Ronnie
Sep 22, 2019 rated it did not like it
Never again! Some books really don't stand the test of time. Read for a wild sexist, racist, misogynistic adventure! ...more
Matthew Hunter
Jan 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I’m conflicted. On the one hand, Ralph 124C 41+: A Romance of the Year 2660 is nothing but a cheesy romance with an over-abundance of scientific infodumps. The pollyannish view of technological progress is at best naive, and at worst willfully ignorant of science’s dark side. I like a good utopia as much as the next guy, but feel free to include at least a splash of realism.

On the other hand, Ralph 124C 41+: A Romance of the Year 2660 is a masterpiece of American science fiction. The World Scien
...more
Lisa
Jun 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Sci Fi is definitely not my normal fare, I read this as it was mentioned in a media literacy course.
The sci fi descriptions were interesting...especially the bit about news being personalized.
The story wasn't bad either...though a lot of time was spent in explaining how the sciencey aspects of the futuristic society worked. It was like 2 books were going, the one about Ralph and his love interest and the one about an imagined New York society. It's interesting reading when you note that it was
...more
Rocco Frontuto
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2019
This was a book I had to read for a college class (Science Fiction & The Human Dynamic) and it was fascinating to get a chance to read early sci fi, or more specifically to see what predictions Hugo Gernsback made in this that ended up being true. It was mostly about the technology and less about the characters for this story, but that makes sense given Hugo's background and his overall goal with writing/publishing. ...more
BJ Haun
Feb 07, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
I suppose back in 1911 when this book was written the explanation of all the "science" stuff might have been interesting...not so much a century later. At least not for me. Once I started just kind of glancing over the explantion of the technology and science, all I was left with was a lackluster plot that went about exactly how you would expect it to. ...more
penwing
Jul 18, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sci-fi, mcrsf, 2020
Don't bother. For the love of God, don't bother - it's awful... ...more
Duane Miller
What was the first science fiction novel? Many would say Frankenstein: The 1818 Text. But a lot of readers today think of sci-fi as being related to envisioning a future with new, exotic technologies. And if that is indeed essential to sci-fi then this book is in fact the first ever sci-fi novel. Beginning in 1911 the book started being published as a series of short stories but the author eventually brought them all together in this one book. It does have fantastic technologies--personal space ...more
Fred Hughes
Dec 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Ralph is a genius. Without ever having met him you can tell that by the + at the end of his name. Only 10 people in the world have the + designation in their name.

Ralph is in love with Alice and no other person, or event can distract him from that love.
However Alice has two other suitors who are just as enamoured of her namely: Fernand another inventor and Llysanorh, the Martian.

After saving Alice’s life it was only natural that Alice and her father should visit Ralph to thank him in person.

From
...more
Christopher Steinsvold
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Easy five stars, though this book is not for most.

Beyond simple enjoyment, I think a novel should be judged on its merits. What was it trying to do, and how well did it do it? In this novel, the author is trying to predict the future. This is the main point of the novel. Hugo Gernsback, writing in 1911, is trying to figure out what the world will be like in 2660. If that doesn't interest you, you likely should not pick up this book.

In the edition I have, there are four prefaces, each one discu
...more
Christopher Weck
Dec 25, 2007 rated it liked it
Wacky, wacky, wacky. Pretty pulpy but brimming with optimistic ideas about future technologies and their transformative effects on society, albeit many based on science long since discredited (creating an 'ether vacuum' to stop light, anyone?). Sometimes it almost reads like a compendium of future tech rather than a narrative, but that's not so bad in the end.

Despite its narrative clumsiness and melodramatic center, there is something I found irresistible about the thing as a whole. Sure, its na
...more
Walter Underwood
Apr 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
My son loved this book, even though it was written nearly a hundred years ago and that shows in the style and vocabulary. Gernsback was totally caught up in the wonders of the year 2660 and that somehow connected. I have a soft spot for visions of the future written in the past, and this one is from 1911, so it is even more fun. It is mostly a travelogue of the future, but there is enough plot to keep it moving.

Be sure to get the edition from the Bison Books Frontiers of Imagination series becau
...more
Pete
Aug 31, 2007 rated it liked it
quirky as hell. reads like a comic book, or really a serialized adventure story, which is the way it was originally published. if you can wade through the hokey
romance and silly plot-lines, what you have is an account
of the really fertile imagination of an inventor who
managed to predict (alongside others, but presented
here entertainingly) the advent of things like
radiation therapy, video-conferencing,
cell phones, hot-house farming,
sleep-learning, and even
pay-per-view! have fun.
Lucy Takeda
I grant this a 3 rather than a 2 because it provides some interesting history of SF.
The novel was begone as a serial on Gernsback's magazine dedicated to inventions back in the early 1900's. there are numerous scientific explanations involving radium, electricity, magnets, and ether that have essentially been proven wrong. Most of the novel involves explanations of possible inventions intertwined with a campy romance. I bought it; I would not recommend anyone do that, unless they are really intr
...more
Griffin Files
At surface level Ralph 124C 41+ is nothing spectacular, it's cheesy, cliché and filled with potentially mind blurring run on sentances of scientific descriptions, but if you look at things from a different perspective you realize that this book represents something far more grand, it was one of the forerunners of the sci-fi genre, and the author amazingly predicted many real technological innovations, so even if Ralph 124C 41+ isn't exactly a brilliant piece of literature nowadays, I think it de ...more
Pedro
Jan 28, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Seminal scifi written by one of the fathers of modern scifi, he gives name to the Hugo awards. The story is an excuse for a showcase of future technologies, is funny to see in which things he has been pretty close and the names of it , on the other hand there are signals from when it was written , the reference to ether, everything works with electricity , is an easy and enjoyable read. An ebook edition recovered thanks to "save the scifi": http://singularity.co/ ...more
Ian J
May 10, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
According to some people, for example, Gary Westfahl, Ralph 124C41+ (henceforth Ralph) is one of the most significant science fiction books of all time. Given its context – the year it was written, what had come before – I can understand why it’s thought of in that way. Is it one of the greatest science fiction stories of all time? Far from it!
https://theforgottengeek.wordpress.co...
...more
Maureen
Jul 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredible

The prophetic nature of this story is astonishing. Gernsback imagined headphones, flying cars, space ships, zero G, radio communication between ships and planets, terraforming, cryosleep (but with heat), planetary growth, television, video chatting, AND the internet! All in one book!
Delena Obermaier
If you like world building or if you're interested in early Sci-Fi, it's an interesting book, but be warned there is no story. It's basically just Ralph telling you about all the cool shit that exists in the future. Read it more as a history lesson in Sci-Fi literature than as a good book....cause you'll probably get mad at quite a bit of the lack of character/plot. ...more
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Hugo Gernsback (August 16, 1884 – August 19, 1967), born Hugo Gernsbacher, was a Luxembourgian-American inventor, writer, editor, and magazine publisher, best remembered for publications that included the first science fiction magazine. His contributions to the genre as publisher were so significant that, along with H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, he is sometimes popularly called "The Father of Scien ...more

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