Alvarado Mortimer Fuller (1851-1924)
It's a dark and stormy night in the garrison. Three subalterns are having a convivial evening; Junius Cobb, Lester Hathaway and Hugh Craft are soldiers in the Army, based in the Presidio, San Francisco (located on a hill above the Golden Gate). The conversation has drifted to the scientific researches of Junius, who claims to have invented a way to place a human body in suspended animation for an indefinite length of time. The other two officers ridicule the idea at first, but later are convinced to the point that they agree to help Junius with his plan to use himself as an experimental subject. The process involves sealing the victim in a glass coffin and filling it with ozone crystals, trusting that the said crystals will seep oxygen into the body through its pores. They plan to use the base of the 25 foot high replication of the Statue of Liberty that Adolph Sutro (a famous entrepreneur in San Francisco's history) had had erected some years previously. They sneak up to the top of the hill on which the statue is built and cut a hole in the bottom, fitting a solid door for access. They carry in the casket and some buckets of crystallized ozone and Junius lies down in it. After securing him inside, they leave and seal the door behind them. The intention is to have the door opened in one hundred years (1987). A letter to that effect has been left with the authorities in the Treasury department. Jean Colchis had been a fellow researcher of Junius, and was familiar with his theories. His daughter, Marie, had acted as lab assistant to the scientists and Junius had fallen in love with her.
1987 passed without any notice being taken of the experimenter's fate until the letter was accidentally found in one of the Treasury's files thirteen years later, in the year 2000. Curiosity leads to a party breaking into the chamber with crowbars and the discovery of the glass coffin. Junius is rescued and found to be still alive, although on the verge of extinction because the ozone crystals were almost used up. After a period of recuperation, he's introduced to the new United States. Inventions abound. Transportation is by electric car or subterranean train. Tunnels have been dug all over the country that are designed for pneumatic trains. Giant engines are used to create a vacuum at the destination points of each train so that the cars are sucked along by the difference in pressure. Engines at embarkation points are also used to push the trains along the tracks which are located in slots below the base of the tunnels. Long thin metal slats connect the rails with the trains. Top speed is 240 MPH. The fuel for the engines is lipthalite, a gaseous form of lipthalene, a combination of nitrogen, carbonic acid and other elements.
In 16 hours, the train reached Cairo, Illinois, where the passengers had to transfer to a submarine to get to Washington DC. The Central Sea was created by the accidental ignition of gas wells situated along the Mississippi river valley. So many well had been drilled and there was so much gas, that the whole valley unzipped like a string of firecrackers, splitting the crust and allowing the influx of 90,000,000,000,000 gallons of water that inundated the midwest and created the new ocean.
Junius received a hearty welcome in Washington, with thousands of colored lights and banging of gongs all along his ride to the White House, where he was interviewed by President Craft, the great great grandson of Hugh Craft, his old army buddy. Some of the statistics pertinent to the United States as it now existed: population 500 million people, 68 states (the borders reached from Panama to the Arctic), and 9 territories. There was one daily newspaper, the Daily American which was published by the American Press in America, a city in Kentucky on the eastern edge of the Central Sea. England was now a republic, Siberia was a nation, France was a monarchy, China had an Emperor, and the national sport was baseball. The Code of Justice had been shortened and improved: there was now a Universal Federal Code that eliminated juries. Corruption carried a life sentence. There were limits on corporate profits; there were no billionaires or millionaires, as people, not capitalists, ran the country. Locally, communication was by pneumatic tubes (like the ones department stores used to have) that ran all over the urban areas. Long distance messages were delivered by sympathetic needles. These "quantum" needles were found to be in sychronicity with each other regardless of physical distance, so a mechanical system was invented to use the movements of paired needles, separated to various locations of the nation or world, to convey messages.They visit Niagara Falls, but it's not there when they arrive. Junius is informed that the whole river has been converted to an electrical generating plant that supplies power to the entire east coast.
Meanwhile, some new friends have become aware that Junius is lonely. He's told them of his former girl-friend, Marie Colchis and how much he misses her, so two of them, the daughters of Craft and Hathaway, decide to search for her. After adventures, they locate what is supposedly her tomb on the island of Guadalupe. Enlisting the help of a ship's doctor, they find a cave in the middle of the island and discover Marie in the same condition that Junius had been when he was found in San Francisco. They revive her and they all return to Washington DC only to be informed that Junius and two others have borrowed a blimp to fly to the North Pole, which no one has ever visited before. The blimp is driven by lipthalene and is 377 feet long. Named the "Orion", it has a car suspended below it of 1500 square feet. It's driven by a 46 foot propeller and is fully equipped for long distance travel. Seven attempts have been made to reach the Pole but none have succeeded. But the Orion, after traveling the length of Greenland and over the Arctic Ocean, arrives and lands at 90 degrees longitude and sinks a monument in the bare earth.
They successfully journey back to Washington, where Junius meets Marie. They marry along with other characters ancillary to his adventures and they all live happily ever after. And they're rich as well, as a lot of jewels were discovered on Guadalupe Island.
This book was a lot of fun. It was the only one written by Fuller, and, although it was not a professional production, it was inventive and original. Fuller spent most of his life in the Army where he was a bookkeeper. He used to refer to himself as an "Indian Fighter" even though most of his experience probably had to do with numbers rather than hostiles. But he had a vivid imagination, which makes up for a lot. I thought it was astonishing that he referred to the quantum world and that he was well aware of the dangers of capitalism even though the book was published in 1887. He rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel before his retirement. The book is listed in the Gutenberg files if you're interested...