Tuesday, October 25, 2011

19th Century Post-Apocalyptic American Fiction

Blog-meister JDJarvis over at Aeons & Augaries has discovered something far too cool not to mention. He discovered a book titled The Last American, which is a post-apocalyptic view of the United States written in 1889 -- more than a century ago!

Written by John Ames Mitchell (co-founder of LIFE Magazine), the short book offers a twisted view of what life in the long-ago-fallen U.S. as seen through the eyes of Persian archaeologists visiting the ruins of the crumbling continent. I'll hush up now about the book (I don't want to steal his thunder) and will point you to JDJarvis's entry over at his blog for more info on this fascinating piece of fiction. But I will post a couple of eerie pictures from the book which set the mood:"The Great Temple" in Washington, indeed...


  1. It's a simple and interesting satire of then modern America that isn't entirely inaccurate to this day.
    I'm sure some modern readers would find an America weakened by decadence and lack of character that is then ravaged by climate change to be left to the mercy of wandering Persians to have just a touch of prophetic irony.

  2. @ Matthew: Logan's Run was published in 1967. I was more stunned with a book from 1889 with the same imagery.

  3. I have one of those big DK books called Science Fiction: The Illustrated Encyclopedia, with an article called The 1900s: The Future of the City. It talks about 1900s sci-fi being about ether huge urban landscapes, or cities turning into ruined concrete jungles. It did talk about John Ames Mitchell's The Lost American, but it also noted Winsor McCay's (of Little Nemo fame) vision of the future' with a neat picture of cavemen in front of some old ruins. Its a really neat book.

  4. "A very early screenplay for Logan's Run was discovered recently at an archaeological site in Virginia, and experts are speculating that it may date to as early as the 17th century."

    But before you get too excited about that discovery, it appears that the dialog and plot were extremely rough around the edges. But they also dug up a steampunk script that was apparently a lot more polished, so that's pretty cool.