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Ralph 124C 41+ and Hugo Gernsback’s legacy


This oddly named science fiction book has quite a legacy. Ralph 124C 41+ was written by Hugo Gernsback and published in 12 parts in Modern Electrics Magazine, starting in April 1911. It was published as a book in 1925 (see above) with black and white illustrations drawn by the famous science fiction illustrator Frank R. Paul. The title is a play on words – 1 2 4 C 4 1 as in “One to foresee for one.”

The general opinion seems to be that the novel accurately predicts many technological advances but Gernback’s writing is very poor. It predicts solar energy, television, transcontinental air travel and radar. It also predicts many technologies that did not come to reality. The likes of Brian Aldiss and Lester del Rey have panned the book.

Hugo Gernsback was an inventor, a writer and an early pioneer of radio and broadcasting. He arguably launched science fiction as we know it by founding Amazing Stories magazine in 1926 – the first periodical dedicated to science fiction.

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