Albert Robida was born in 1848 and died in 1926. A French illustrator, etcher, lithographer, caricaturist, and novelist, he came up with some creepily accurate predictions about World War II and also how our world would look like in the 21st Century.
He wrote a futuristic trilogy in the same vein as Jules Verne
Of course, Robida isn’t as well known as Verne. Robida’s novels weren’t nearly as famous. However his incisive imaginings of the future were more accurate than Verne’s ever were.
- Le Vingtième Siècle (1883)
- La Guerre au vingtième siècle (1887)
- Le Vingtième siècle. La vie électrique (1890)
Robida was prone to whimsy…
Robida thought that by the year 2000 we would all be using flying cars (that look vaguely amphibian) to go on outings to the opera. He even drew this for all posterity. Click on the image to view the larger version.
Along with gravity-defying houses…
Robida proposed in the 1880’s in his trilogy of books, that in the 21st Century, people would use a device called a telephonoscope. This was a mechanised contraption that included a gramophone and videophone which displayed sound and vision 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and included live, serialised opera performances and live battlefield reports. Bravo Robida, Bravo!
Here is an illustration of the telephonoscope, done in 1878 by a chap called George Du Maurier.
Great Guess #2: World War II
This was a serialised novel for children in 1908, penned by another bloke Pierre Giffard and featuring 520 illustrations by Robida. The novel somewhat creepily describes an attack from the air on London by the Germans, along with a war between Japan and the United States. A few decades before it even happened, mind you!!
Great Guesses #3 to 8: The State of the Modern World
He must have been a time lord, because in his trilogy of novels, Robida imagines a world of social and cultural changes with astonishing accuracy. His themes in the novels are as follows:
The social advancement and empowerment of women
Mass pollution of the world
Here’s a closer look at that brilliant amphibious flying car painting…