Ralph 124C 41+

by Hugo Gernsback
Reviewed date: 2018 Apr 14
Rating: 3
180 pages
A romance of the year 2660
cover art

Ralph is a super-scientist. Ralph saves Alice's life. Ralph and Alice fall in love. Alice has two stalkers. Fernand kidnaps Alice. Ralph rescues Alice. Fernand kidnaps Alice again. Llysanorh' steals Alice from Fernand. Ralph catches Fernand. Ralph catches Llysanorh'. Ralph kills Llysanorh'. Llysanorh' stabs Alice. Alice is dead. Ralph is a super-scientist. Ralph saves Alice's life.

The end.

The rest of the story is long infodumps explaining the science behind 27th century technology. Some entire chapters are all infodump and literally zero plot. It's glorious.

1. The Avalanche
Ralph beams power from his home in New York City to Alice's mountain cabin in Switzerland, saving her from an avalance. Infodumps about the Telephot, which is a video teleconferencing device, the Language Rectifier, which translated spoken audio in realtime, and Meteoro-Towers, which control weather.

2. Two Faces
Teleradiographs send news and photos around the world for publication in tiny news "papers" every 30 minutes. The Menograph records thoughts on paper. Hypnobioscopes "transmit words to the sleeping brain." People use the Hypnobioscope to read books and learn things at night while they sleep. Hypnobioscopes also transmit the latest news, which is delivered electronically, by wire, to sleeping subscribers at 5am, customized to their interests and desires.

3. Dead or Alive?
Ralph revives a dog that he has kept in suspended animation for three years, the culmination of a grand experiment. Alice and her father pay Ralph a visit. Infodumps about Transatlantic Aeroliners, which can take people anywhere in the world within 24 hours, and about the Sub-Atlantic Tunnel, a mag-lev subway train beneath the ocean floor.

4. Fernand
Ralph is in love with Alice. He shows her around the city. Infodumps. Tele-motor-coasters are motorized roller skates. They draw power from the electric roads--roads which also power electric vehicles; internal combustion engines are obsolete. Scientific restaurants serve liquefied super food. Electric street lights keep the city light all night. But apparently horses were around for a long time: the last working horse in NYC died in 2096.

5. New York A.D. 2660
Personal flying machines go 600mph. Sports at night in lighted stadiums. Electricity is supplied by Helio-Dynamaphors, which are solar power arrays. Automatic electric packing machines box up your department store purchases, which are delivered to your home by an automated underground network of delivery tubes. Each home has a Tele-Theater where people can view live broadcasts of musical and theatrical performances, beamed directly into their homes from anywhere in the world. Ralph's nephew has fun with the Tele-Theater by tuning into three broadcasts at once, laughing at the mashup he created. Each citizens uses the Bacillatorum on a regular basis, to kill germs by means of a radiation that is deadly to microbes but beneficial to humans.

6. "Give as Food"
Automated hothouses grow five crops a year, which is necessary to support a global population of 15 billion. Crops have been improved; a head of wheat is more than twice as large as in the past. Other staples such as sugar, milk, and cheese are produced artificially, as it's easier, cheaper, and healthier to produce it directly from chemical processes than to rely on natural means.

7. The End of Money
Currency is backed by real estate bonds instead of gold or silver. Coins are obsolete, paper notes almost so. Most transactions are done via check. Three strikes and you go to prison for overdrawing your bank account, so nobody does that. Banks are government-insured and get bailed out if they fail.

8. The Menace of the Invisible Cloak
Alice is kidnapped by a man with an invisibility device. Ralph rescues her. Infodump about ultra-wave invisibility machines.

9. The Conquest of Gravity
Audio dictating machines. Gravity nullification makes floating cities possible. Entire floating cities exist as vacation zones, where people can unplug entirely: no radio, no news allowed. Gravity nullification also permits great entertainment: zero-g circus acts!

10. Two Letters
Alice's two stalkers write letters. Llysanorh' the Martian gives up. Fernand plans another kidnapping.

11. The Flight Into Space
Fernand kidnaps Alice and escapes in a spaceship. Ralph overtakes Fernand, but Alice is not on board. Infodumps about the Anti-Gravitator, which powers spaceships. And about the Actiniscope, which is a radar that can be calibrated to reflect off particular metals only. Quite useful if your quarry has the only Magnelium spaceship in existence.

12. Llysanorh' Strikes
Llysanorh' stole Alice from Fernand, so Ralph pursues Llysanorh' and must catch up before he can hide out among the Asteroids--many of which have breathable atmospheres and lush vegetation.

13. Alice Objects
Alice's point of view: Alice refuses Fernand's advances.

14. The Terror of the Comet
Unable to overtake Llysanorh', Ralph tricks him by pretending to be a comet on a collision course with Mars. Ever the patriot, Llysanorh' moves to intercept the comet and save Mars, whereupon Ralph kills Llysanorh'. But! Alice is stabbed--dead!

15. Llysanorh' Throws Off the Mask
Back to Alice's point of view: Llysanorh' rescues her from Fernand, but reveals himself to be equally a monster. He will take her to Mars and force her to marry him.

16. The Supreme Victory
Alice is exsanguinated, so Ralph suspends her as he did to the dog in his experiment. (Infodumps. Flexible glass tubing sure sounds a lot like plastic to me.) It's touch-and-go, but Alice pulls through. The end.

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