The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Ralph 124C 41+: A Romance of the Year 2660 is an episodic story of a brilliant scientist named Ralph 124C 41+ who woos and rescues the beautiful Alice 212B 423 in a utopian future world. It was the first science-fiction novel to be published in a science magazine. Hugo Gernsback justified its publication there by incorporating lengthy descriptions of Ralph’s and others’ inventions, materials he hoped might stimulate contemporary scientists to produce analogous devices. Now rarely read, Ralph 124C 41+ was once popular and appeared in print five times between 1911 and 1958.

Ralph, renowned for his beneficial inventions, is one of ten men on Earth granted an honorific “+” after his name. The Planet Governor, leader of the world government, personally provides for Ralph, but the scientist resents the restrictions the government imposes on him, calling himself a “prisoner.”

Ralph accidentally has a picturephone conversation with Alice 212B 423, a Swiss woman whose mountain home suddenly is threatened by an avalanche. Ralph broadcasts long-range energy beams to melt the avalanche and save her life. A grateful Alice and her father travel through the Sub-Atlantic Tube to visit Ralph in New York City, and he shows her its scientific marvels, including a weather-controlling Meteoro-Tower, a “scientific restaurant” serving predigested food, a solar power plant, an Accelerated Plant Growing Farm, and a flying “vacation...

(The entire section is 412 words.)