Books and Movies Reviews

Examples of Bad Engineering in From the Earth to the Moon R.U.R. Metropolis & Transatlantic Tunnel

OUTLINE
According to H. Bruce Franklin, science fiction is “the only
literature capable of exploring the macro-history of our species. . . in a
cosmic context” (Science Fiction: The Early History, Internet) which
suggests that man’s place in the universe is dependent upon rock-solid
scientific investigation and exploration. But as a literary/cinematic
genre, science fiction can and often does contain inventions, ideas and
theories based on pure speculation and pseudo-science. Some of the devices
and instruments featured in many popular science fiction novels and films
are in essence conceived through bad engineering, meaning that these
devices and instruments are not practical nor possible according to present
scientific knowledge. Out of all the novels and films written and produced
within the last one hundred and fifty years, four stand out for their use
of bad engineering;;;Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon (1865), R.U.R.
by Karel Capek (1921), Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1926) and Maurice Elvey’s
In the 1865 science fiction “classic” From the Earth to the Moon,
Jules Verne, the author of other sci-fi novels such as Journey to the
Center of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, expresses his
admiration for all things American, especially their ingenuity and desire
for exploration. In this novel, the so-called “daredevil” Michel Ardan
comes up with the fabulous idea of sending a man to the moon via a
spaceship that is to be “launched” from the barrel of a huge gun. This
spaceship is to be made of aluminum, and to launch their “shot” at the
proper angle, the men involved in this scheme choose a site in Florida near
the present-day Cape Canaveral. As a preparatory experiment, Verne’s
“astronauts” send a cat and a squirrel into spacefirst and then plan to

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