The Wreck of the Titan: Or, Futility (originally called Futility) is an 1898 novella written by Morgan Robertson. The story features the fictional ocean liner Titan, which sinks in the North Atlantic after striking an iceberg. Titan and its sinking have been noted to be very similar to the real-life passenger ship RMS Titanic, which sank fourteen years later. Following the sinking of the Titanic, the novel was reissued with some changes, particularly in the ship’s gross tonnage.
Although the novel was written before the RMS Titanic was even conceptualized, there are some uncanny similarities between both the fictional and real-life versions. Like the Titanic, the fictional ship sank in April in the North Atlantic, and there were not enough lifeboats for all the passengers. There are also similarities between the size (800 ft (244 m) long for Titan versus 882 ft 9 in (269 m) long for the Titanic), speed (25 knots for Titan, 22.5 knots for Titanic) and life-saving equipment. Similarities between the Titanic and the fictional Titan include:
- Similar names of the ships[
- Both were described as the largest craft afloat and the greatest of the works of men
- The Titan was 800 feet long, displacing 45,000 tons (in the 1898 edition).
- The Titanic was 882 feet long, displacing 46,000 tons.
- Described as “unsinkable”
- Had triple screw (propeller)
- Shortage of lifeboats
- The Titan carried “as few as the law allowed”, 24 lifeboats, which could carry “less than half” of her total complement of 3,000.
- The Titanic carried only 16 lifeboats (plus 4 Engelhardt folding lifeboats).
- Struck an iceberg
- The Titan, moving at 25 knots, struck an iceberg on the starboard side on a night of April, in the North Atlantic, 400 nautical miles (740 km; 460 mi) from Newfoundland (Terranova).
- The Titanic, moving at 22½ knots,[ struck an iceberg on the starboard side on the night of April 14, 1912, in the North Atlantic, 400 nautical miles (740 km; 460 mi) from Newfoundland (Terranova).
- The Titan sank, and the majority of her 2,500 passengers and crew died; only 13 survived.
- The Titanic sank, and 1,523 of her 2,200 passengers and crew died; 705 survived.
After the Titanic‘s sinking, some people credited Robertson with clairvoyance. Robertson denied this, claiming the similarities were explained by his extensive knowledge of shipbuilding and maritime trends.
Did he predict the future without even knowing? Or is he just a skilled engineer with good luck at guessing? We may never know, but the similarities are pretty crazy accurate.