WORD! Prescient

Pierre Metivier

Last night as I read my iPad at 3am (one of those nights) looking for inspirational tidbits, I went to one of my new favorite websites; Mental_Floss.com and found an article written by Mark Juddery, 10 Works of Literature That Were Really Hard to Write. While I suggest going through the entire article when you have time (one author who wrote an entire book without using the letter ‘e’, while yet another who was paralysed, dictated an entire novel by blinking one eye) I was impressed with #7, for its content as well as having a word I had to look up; prescient, which means to have knowledge of something before it happens came up in the seventh book on the list.

7. The Most Visionary Story Ever Told
Futility by Morgan Robertson

Occasionally, literature is prophetic. H.G. Wells’ stories, for instance, predicted video recordings, portable television, aerial bombings, and a Second World War starting in 1940 (only one year late). And a 1941 comic book written by Gil Fox described the bombing of Pearl Harbor in surprising detail, precisely one month before it happened.

But perhaps the most meticulously prophetic work of literature is Morgan Robertson’s short and poorly written novel, Futility. In it, Robertson describes the maiden voyage of a British luxury liner called the Titan, which claims to be unsinkable, but sinks anyway after hitting an iceberg. Nearly every detail resembles the story of the Titanic. Of course, nobody thought about that when Futility was released in 1898, a full 14 years before the Titanic set sail.

Futility wasn’t Robertson’s only prescient piece of literature. In 1912, three years before his death, he wrote Beyond the Spectrum. Much like Gil Fox’s tale, Robertson’s story predicted a Japanese sneak attack on an American fleet in Hawaii, and the resulting war between the two countries.

I could sort of figure out what it meant, but just to be sure I went to dictionary.com.

Besides learning a fun new word, you also have something to discuss the next time the topic of the Titanic comes up.



  1. I just KNEW that prescient would be a WOD one day! It’s such a good word 🙂

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