Victorian Fiction – Golf in the Year 2000

Victorian Science FictionGolf in the Year 2000, or, What We Are Coming To is an 1892 novel by J. McCullough. It is a specimen of science fiction of the Victorian era, and an example of time travel in fiction. It tells the story of Alexander J. Gibson, who falls into a deep sleep in 1892 and awakens in 2000.


The plot follows Gibson as he is introduced to the wonders of the dawning 21st century by his host, the current owner of the house where Gibson lay sleeping for 108 years. Like Gibson, the host is a passionate golf player. Much of the story revolves around the two men’s visits to the golf course, where Gibson learns first-hand the radical changes that technology has made to the game. There are golf clubs that automatically keep their user’s score, driverless golf caddies or carts, and special jackets, which everyone must wear, that yell “Fore!” whenever the player begins his swing.

Golf n the Year 2000Modern readers are fascinated by the many startlingly accurate “predictions” contained in Golf in the Year 2000. These include bullet trains, digital watches, and television (although those specific terms are not used). It correctly predicts the conversion of the British pound to decimal coins. It notably fails to anticipate modern air travel, instead postulating that undersea trains will cut trans-Atlantic travel time to a few hours. Similarly, Gibson’s jest about travel to the moon is answered with an explanation that this is still a few generations off. It anticipates a form of chemical warfare, but suggests a very different impact.

One of the novel’s “predictions” is the liberation of women. In the book, women have achieved substantial equality with men, but with some remaining and new differences. Gibson learns that the women of 2000 dress like men, hold key positions in business (bank clerks are exclusively female) and government (but not yet prime minister, due to petty rivalries), and in fact do almost all of the work… while the men play golf full-time. In the view of the fictional narrator, this is a true utopia, though he does not find 21st century females to his liking.

Source: Wikipedia

Victorian View of the Future: A Prophetic Romance

Victorian Science Fictionis an 1896 utopian novel written by John McCoy, and published pseudonymously as the work of “The Lord Commissioner,” the narrator of the tale. The book is one element in the major wave of utopian and dystopian literature that characterized the final decades of the nineteenth century.

The story is written in a form resembling an epistolary novel: it consists of a series of reports from a Martian government official, the Lord Commissioner. He has been sent to Earth by the “Chancellor Commander” of Mars, the head of that planet’s unified government, to report on terrestrial conditions. (The Martians are more advanced than humans, and have explored the solar system.) The time of the story is not specified, though details in the text suggest the late twentieth century, about a hundred years after the book’s publication.

A Prophetic RomanceThe Lord Commissioner travels to Earth by spaceship; he endures hallucinations due to the interplanetary “atmosphere.” He lands at “Midland,” the capital of the United States, and meets the president, who happens to be a woman. American society has been reformulated after a revolution around the turn of the twentieth century, when irate citizens blew up the Capitol and its congressmen. Laws must be approved by popular referenda before they take effect. The United States has expanded to include Canada and Central America. The salaries of business executives are limited. Gender equality has been achieved.

Technology has made major advances, including aircraft and electric cars; there is even a “lovemeter” that detects emotions. Vegetarianism is dominant, and alcohol abuse is a thing of the past. The Bible has been edited, with the bloody parts removed. Divorces are uncommon, and hard to obtain.

The Lord Commissioner falls in love with an Earth woman named Loleta, a friend of the president; he decides to remain on Earth with her.

Quest for History – Galvanization

Galvanization of the human body

Quest for History - GalvanizationFrom the Atlantic Medical and Surgical Journal of 1886 (p89-95)

Electricity as a Stimulant in Cardiac and Respiratory Failure.
A Jacobi, M.D, President presiding of the February 19, 1885 meeting

Dr. Gaspar Griswold read a paper on the above subject, beginning with the statement that electricity had ben conspicuous in the treatment of sudden prostration, attended with respiratory and cardiac failure, especially in chloroform inhalation and opium-poisoning. The object of the paper was to discuss how far the usual methods of applying electricity in such cases of collapse were in accord with what was known concerning the physiology of the heart. The term electricity was used in a general sense, including galvanism and faradism.

Morphine in poisonous doses paralyzes the pneumogastrics, and stimulation of them by electricity would not slow or depress the action of the heart.

In opium-poissoning, when the action of the heart was rapid and feel, there was less danger than in health of cardiac paralysis from stimulation of the pneumogastrics. When morphine was injected into the veins the heart was easily depressed by electricity applied to the pneumogastrics, and it would not, therefore, be safe to faradize or galvanize the phrenics in the condition, because of the certainty, almost, of stimulating at the same time the pneumogastrics.

A general conclusion reached by the author of the paper was that, under no circumstances, should an electrical current, sufficiently strong to produce contractions of the muscles in any part of the body, be applied over the phrenic or pneumogastric in the neck.

Dr. A. D. Rockwell, in general, quite agreed with the statements made by Dr Griswold, in his valuable contribution to the literature of this subject. The fact that, in the normal condition, and by purely external methods of application, the respiration was affected, rather than the heart’s action, was very readily demonstrated. In connections with this subject, he might have referred to the statements made long ago by Arloing and Tripier, that the right pneumogastric has a more powerful influence over the heart, while the left more powerfully affect respiration. However that may be, it was certain that galvanization affect the two pneumogastric nerves unequally, and in a way to confirm, to some extent, that assertion.

It had been found that, if the heart be stopped by galvanization of the exposed left pneumorgastric, the movements could be restored by some slight mechanical excitation, while, if the same result occurred through galvanization of the right pneumogastric, it seemed impossible to again exited the pulsations. These, certainly, seemed to be the effects of sedation rather than of stimulation, but that the effects that followed were powerfully stimulant and tonic could not be doubted.

Edison’s Conquest of Mars

Victorian Science FictionEdison’s Conquest of Mars is an 1898 science fiction novel by American astronomer and writer Garrett P. Serviss. It was written as a sequel to Fighters from Mars, an unauthorized and heavily altered version of H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds. It has a place in the history of science fiction for its early employment of themes and motifs that later became staples of the genre.

Edison's Conquest of MarsThe book features Thomas Edison as the primary character, though neither Edison nor H. G. Wells were involved in its creation. Set after the devastating Martian attack in the previous story, the novel depicts Edison leading a group of scientists to develop ships and weapons, including a disintegration ray, for the defence of Earth. Edison and company fight the aliens in space and on Mars, eventually causing a flood that defeats the enemy and forces an end to hostilities. Serviss wrote himself into the story as a professor whom Edison consults; also appearing are scientists such as Edward Emerson Barnard, Lord Kelvin, Wilhelm Röntgen, and Silvanus P. Thompson, and heads of state such as Queen Victoria, U.S. President William McKinley, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and Emperor Mutsuhito.

Serviss’ first attempt at fiction, the book was published serially in the New York Journal. Serviss went on to write other science fiction stories, arguably making him the first American to write science fiction professionally. An early example of what would later be called space opera, Edison’s Conquest of Mars was also a particularly literal “Edisonade”. The book contains some notable “firsts” in science fiction: alien abductions, spacesuits (called “air-tight suits”: see Spacesuits in fiction), aliens building the Pyramids, space battles, oxygen pills, asteroid mining and disintegrator rays.

source: Widipedia

Corsets and Bustles from 1880-90

The Move from Over-Structured Opulence to the ‘Healthy Corset’

Corset - Red-Gold 1883By the 1880s the corset had become a very elegant and desirable object in a woman’s wardrobe and much attention paid to its design and execution. The rapid growth of the corset manufacturing industries meant that there was greater variety in materials, colour, size and fit. The most expensive might be made of satin, brightly coloured corsets also became more acceptable.

Corset makers and manufacturers prided themselves on the excellent fit that could now be had with ready-to-wear corsets. As well as being made for different bust and hip measurements they were also designed to suit a variety of body types from ‘stout’, to ‘slim’ and ‘full’ to ‘graceful’. Manufacturers also tried to boost sales by giving corsets fancy names such ‘La Fiancée’, which not surprisingly promised physical beauty and success in marital competition, and ‘Swanbill’ with a logo of a swan gliding past waterplants, probably intended to conjure up an image of demure elegance and a gently curving figure.

In the mid 1880s, after a brief respite, bustles returned and in a more exaggerated form than before. They were usually very structured and sometimes jutted out at right angles from the centre back of the body. This gave rise to the popular belief that a tea tray could be balanced on them. Steel strips were also often attached to the insides of dresses to exaggerate the backward curve of the bustle.

Bustles came in all shapes and sizes. Some were constructed almost entirely of steel, others resembled colourful cushions. These were often stuffed with horsehair, down and even straw to achieve the desired fullness. Bustles were often ridiculed in journals and the popular press. But although they could be cumbersome and uncomfortable, as with the corset and crinoline one must be careful not to focus on extremes. Most bustles in museum collections are not as enormous as all the written criticisms would have us believe. They were usually adjustable in size and women could wear different styles according to their activities and the time of day. Small ‘tournures’ fastened to the corset were recommended for walking, small ‘puffs’ were for the early afternoon to remove the flat look of the dress and larger, longer bustles were suited to the ballroom.

‘The New Phantom’ bustle, dating from about 1884, had a special feature. The steel wires are attached to a pivot so that they folded in on themselves on sitting down and sprang back when the wearer rose. A novelty bustle made to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee celebrations contained a less useful device. It was fitted with a musical box that played ‘God Save the Queen’ each time the wearer sat down.

source: Victoria and Albert Museum

What would you be reading in 1890?

Journey to Venus the Primeval World; Its Wonderful Creations and Gigantic Monsters is an 1895 science fiction novel written by Gustavus W. Pope. The book was a sequel to Pope’s novel of the previous year, Journey to Mars.Victorian Science Fiction The Venus volume features the same hero and heroine, Lt. Frederick Hamilton, USN, and his love interest the Martian princess Suhlamia. They travel to Venus on a Martian “ethervolt” spacecraft.

The publisher promoted the book as “full of exciting adventures, hairbreadth escapes, and perilous vicissitudes, among primeval monsters and semi-human creatures, the episodes following each other in such breathless succession that the interest of the reader never flags.”

Journey to VenusModern critics have noted the book largely for its depiction of giant dinosaur-like Venusian beasts. Pope’s pair of novels on Mars and Venus (volumes in a projected Romances of the Planets series that the author never continued) were precursors of popular planetary adventure novels of the twentieth century by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Otis Adelbert Kline, and other writers.
The original edition of Journey to Venus from Arena Publishing Co. featured sixteen illustrations by “Miss Fairfax and Mrs. McAuley.” The ensuing “paper-covered” edition reduced the illustrations to three. After the 1896 bankruptcy of Arena Publishing, Journey to Venus was reprinted in 1897 by the New York firm F. T. Neely, with the reduced number of three illustrations.

source: Wikipedia

History of Fashion 1890’s

Victorian Dress - 1890Women
In the early part of the decade, women wore tight bodices with high collars and narrow sleeves, much as they had done in the previous decade. From about 1893 however, sleeves started expanding into a leg-of-mutton shape, which was tight at the lower arm and puffed out at the upper arm. Wide shoulders were fashionable and horizontal decoration on the bodice further exaggerated the line. Skirts were worn in a full-length, simple A-line. Masculine styles and tailoring were increasingly popular, and women sometimes sported a shirt collar and tie, particularly when playing golf or out walking. Hair was worn high on top of the head, in tight curls. Hats were small or wide with lots of trimming, but generally worn squarely on top of the head.

Victorian men 1890Men
The three-piece lounge suit was very popular and regularly worn from the 1890s onwards, and it became increasingly common to have creases at the front of the trousers. Frock coats were still worn, but generally by older or more conservative men. Collars were starched and high, with the tips pressed down into wings, though by the end of the century collars were more frequently turned down and worn with the modern long, knotted tie style. Hair was cut short and usually parted at the side. Heavy moustaches were common, and older men still sported beards. Some men now went clean-shaven.

Source: Victoria and Albert Museum

Scintillating Science – Hair & Nails

Scintillating ScienceIt’s a common myth that your hair and nails continue to grow after death. While this is not true, it certainly looks that way and that’s part of what frightens people. In fact, what happens is that, with no blood flow, your skin begins losing moisture after death. This lack of moisture causes your skin to shrink and pull back, which in turn reveals more of your hair (straight down to the follicle), while also exposing more of your nails. In other words, your hair and nails aren’t growing, they are simply exposed.

Quest for History – Immigrants

ImmigrantsWhy did people immigrate to the US?


Political Freedom
Religious Tolerance
Economic Opportunity – People want a better life – better job – more money
Political Refugees fear for their lives
Some want free atmosphere
Forced Immigration (Slavery)
Family Reunification
There are two types of motivation for immigration
Push(need to leave in order to survive)
Pull (attracted to new way of life)


The reason for immigration in the period from 1830-1890 is quite clear. Land remained plentiful, and fairly cheap. Jobs were abundant, and labor was scarce and relatively dear. A decline in the birthrate as well as an increase in industry and urbanization reinforced this situation.


Jews came for religious freedom
Italians and Asians came for Work
Russians came to escape persecution
America had jobs
America had religious freedom
America was hyped up in many countries as “Land of Opportunity”


Scintillating Science – Rigor Mortis

Scintillating ScienceThe state of rigor mortis, or the stiffening of the body is a well known phenomenon, and happens anywhere between 2 to 6 hours after death.

A less well-known stage is the algor mortis, or the ‘death chill’. Through this stage, the body gradually cools to room temperature at the rate of 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit per hour. This allows us an easy method to detect time of death if we can reach a body before it has stabilized to the surrounding temperature.