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Ralph 124c41+: A Romance of the Year 2660 (Bison Frontiers of Imagination) Paperback – 1 Sep 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Bison (1 Sept. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803270984
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803270985
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,537,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Students of early science fiction will welcome the University of Nebraska Press''s series Bison Frontiers of Imagination."-Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Jack Williamson is the author of numerous classic novels, including "The Humanoids" and "Three from the Legion." He was recently inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rod Williams on 31 Jan. 2006
Format: Paperback
Nearly a hundred years on from Gernsback’s first version of this quirky novel in 1911, it re-emerges between the lavish covers of this Bison Books commemorative edition, a facsimile – or at least the interior of the book is – of the 1925 book publication complete with the original full-page illustrations by Frank R Paul.
Hugo is often referred to as ‘the grandfather of SF’, or at least the grandfather of American SF, being the founder of Amazing Stories, and is credited, among other things, with the invention of the phrase ‘science fiction’, reduced from the rather cumbersome ‘scientifiction’. Allegedly, he is also the first person to use the word ‘television’ and, in his own way within this novel, predicts many of the things which – albeit existing in very different form – we take for granted today.
In the year 2660, Ralph 124C 41+ is, as denoted by the plus sign suffix to his name, one of the top ten scientists in the world, and as such is forbidden to engage in anything potentially injurious.
During a ‘telephot’ call (a telephot being a kind of videophone) he gets a misdirected call from an Alice of Switzerland and – having saved her from an avalanche by a remarkable procedure involving the erection of antennae and a concentration of rays – the two fall in love.
Unfortunately Alice has other admirers; the swarthy and brutal Fernand and Llysanorh’, a depressed Martian.
Most of the novel is taken up with Alice and her father visiting Ralph at his New York home and laboratory from whence Ralph takes them on a tour, demonstrating to them the wonders of the modern world (which obviously in 2660 does not include Switzerland).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 3 Mar. 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first read this book as a 15 year old and the memory of it has been a vivid beacon in the hisory of my SF reading. This is a story set in 2660 in which the climax of the book is a successful act of complicated surgery undertaken by a robot controlled remotely by a surgeon many thousands of miles from the scene. The surgeon is battling to save the life of his beloved, only he has the skills to do so and remote control surgery is the only way he can be there in time to perform the op. A clever blend of SF and romantic fiction but well worth reading, because the technology is within sight - we'll see it before 2060, let alone 2660. Enjoy
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Robert J. Berry on 7 Jan. 2008
Format: Paperback
The University of Liverpool has this on its Spec Fic course, which is understandable as it's sort of the first 'science fiction' novel (although note people like H.G. Wells came beforehand, but their works are referred to as 'scientific romances' for some reason). Some of the inventions in the book are clever and interesting, others just silly and naive. But the big downfall is the story - it's really terrible. Utter cliche, no depth whatsoever. It makes most modern pulp sci-fi look like Shakespeare. If you're interested in where science-fiction sort-of comes from, then this is probably a great book for you, but if you're interested in reading something you'll enjoy, you'll find it difficult to, unless it's for comic value.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
It's Pronounced: Ralph One To Foresee For One! 9 Sept. 2000
By Mark Salditch - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is the seminal work in sci-fi by the man who's editing direction shaped the modern genre, Hugo Gernsback, the guy they named the Hugo Awards after.
A future where everyone wears electric roller skates, has a number instead of a last name and cities have moving side walks... One of theose travelogues of the future extrapolated by a writer from the very beginings of the pulp era. The gadgetry seems almost Victorian, the philosophy seems dated, yet somehow you'll never forget this book.
I read this book in the early 60's and it was already very quaint and dated even back then. But somehow I've never forgotten it and parts of this book come to mind even now almost 40 years later. If you've ever seen the 1930 film "Just Imagine," then this is the literary equivalant.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A classic revisited 18 Feb. 2005
By Joseph A. Nickence - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I came across this title in the usual way: surfing for something almost, but not quite related. I knew of Gernsback's publications. And I'm quite familiar with the SF award that bears his first name. But it never dawned on me that the man actually wrote SF himself. I had to read this obvious classic.

Only knowing a glimmer of the book's contents, I jumped in. Fully expecting stuff so "left field" from today's technology, I was quite surprised with Gernsback's predictions. A few of them are fairly accurate, and at least one is square on target. And winding through it all is a darling, innocent love story to boot. It reads as good as any Jules Verne, or H.G. Welles story!

Don't let either the title or it's author scare you off from reading this. You'll be glad you did!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A so-so work of literature, but a very historical one. 9 Jan. 2007
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you were to take away the historical context of this book, and treat it as a pure piece of science fiction, it would be a poor purchase, two stars at best. Plot seems contrived at times, and overly romantic. (Perhaps because the book wasn't actually a book but orginally published as many installments of magazine story.) There are phrases that read awkward, whether due to the age or lack of focus on literature I don't know. Having said that, I still give it four-stars, and there is a reason why science fiction achievement award is named after Hugo Gernsback.

This book is widely considered the first science fiction and Hugo credited with creation of the term 'science fiction.'

It is a must read for serious fans of science fiction. But for casual readers, you'd be glad modern SF is leaps and bounds more interesting. (Then again, who knows what people will say a hundred years from now about Star Wars?)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Technological optimism off the leash 31 Aug. 2007
By wiredweird - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hugo Gernsback (SF's "Hugo" awards are named for him) wrote this in 1911, so a big part of its value comes from campy quaintness. Set in the year 2660, everything is grander and more glorious than what we poor slobs of centuries 20-21 could possibly imagine - something that Ralph points out with remarkable frequency. The story itself has lagged the times, a formulaic romance of accidents, kidnappings, and heroic saves.

Many parts of this hundred-year-old story are decidedly dated, not least the references to the "ether" that carries light waves. Some just look silly to a modern eye, including the broadcast power distribution (sort of like a live-in microwave oven), electric roller skates, or restaurant that serves only liquid food, pumped through pipes to patrons turned off by the idea of chewing. And the daily disinfections, killing off all bacteria in the body, look positively pernicious, now that we know more about the importance of our symbiotic microbes.

A few points are strikingly prescient, though. Cable video might have been the obvious next thing, once telephonic voice transmission was common. Gernsback went even farther and predicted "video walls" tiled from many smaller video panels, and even channel surfing, albeit with patch-cord panels rather than typed URLs.

Read this if you want a quaintly futuristic, doubly-anacronistic romp, a shallow space opera, or an interesting artifact from the start of the last century. If you're looking for light, contemporary fiction, look onward. This is probably best for the hard-core SF fan or for the historian of technology trying to understand the social context of the time. The right reader will find a lot to enjoy, but it's not for everyone.

-- wiredweird
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Deadly Dull 18 Feb. 2014
By Paul Camp - Published on
Format: Paperback
Hugo Gernsback's _Ralph 124C41+: A Romance of the Year 2660_ (1925) was first serialized in Gernsback's _Modern Electrics_ magazine in 1911 and is the prototype of what he thought a good "scientifiction" novel should be-- long on science and prediction and short on literary dazzle. It has, I suppose, a bit of historical interest as the forerunner of some of the technological sf stories that followed. But it is almost unreadable today-- with cardboard characters, a silly plot, and stilted dialogue. It is really a bad book; and while I can imagine that some modern readers may want to read it out of a sense of historical duty, it boggles the imagination that many would actively enjoy it today.
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