IF ONLY THEY’D BEEN AWAKE . . . IF ONLY WE WERE AWAKE . . .

This gem is from PAUL HARVEY’S THE REST OF THE STORY, by Paul Aurandt:

Futility

Best-selling books, big box office, and bombshell television specials are hitting us over the head with a new club.

Fact.

The once-popular strictly fiction format is gradually yielding to history, phasing out in favor of truth.

Example:  Roots.  ABC’s twelve-hour, sure-fire winner.  It held you . . . because it happened.

Here’s another novel of historical significance: Futility.  That’s the name of the book, Futility, and you say you’ve not heard of it?

You’ll wonder why you haven’t, when I tell you THE REST OF THE STORY.

The novel Futility is about the maiden voyage of a fabulous ocean liner, a ship far larger than any previously built, labeled “unsinkable.”

The vessel sets sail for New York from Southampton with a cargo of complacent passengers, strikes an iceberg en route, goes down.

And the ship was called . . . the Titan.

So why didn’t author Morgan Robertson come right out and say it?  His Titan . . . is obviously the Titanic.

Both liners were touted as the biggest, the grandest, the most luxurious . . . and foolproof.

Both struck icebergs on their maiden voyages between Southampton and New York.

Both were inadequately stocked with lifeboats, resulting in heavy casualties.  And both sank at exactly the same spot in the North Atlantic, each on a cold April night.

It would seem clear that the real-life ship Titanic is the setting for the novel Futility, so why would the author have allowed for such minor discrepancies as these?

The Titanic was eight hundred eighty-two and one half feet long; Robertson rounded off his ship to eight hundred feet in length.

Even the apparent abbreviation of the name Titanic to Titan seems hardly worth the use of literary license.

After all, both liners were triple-screw, could travel up to twenty-five knots, could carry up to three thousand people.

All of the specific similarities were there, and yet author Morgan Robertson did not call it history.

Why?

In the first place, Robertson’s characters, the passengers aboard the Titan, were purely fictional. Their personal interactions, problems, fears, were examined closely, and at last the ship sank.  Hence the novel’s title, Futility.

But there was another type of “futility” demonstrated in Robertson’s book . . . a hopelessness that not even the author himself could have recognized.

For the novel that so accurately described an authentic disaster in the Atlantic, the book that charted an invisible course through the water to an appointment with death . . . owned up to its title beyond the wildest dreams of its readers.

For the literature that in every way seemed to recount . . . in reality foretold.

In 1898.

Fourteen years before the real-life Titanic set sail!

 

And this one is from MORE OF PAUL HARVEY’S THE REST OF THE STORY, also by Paul Aurandt:

The Light Show

On the night of April 14, the ocean liner Californian has progressed to within fifteen hundred miles of her destination, Boston Harbor.

Midnight.

Second Officer Herbert Stone is due for watch on the bridge.

Reporting for duty, Stone finds his apprentice seaman glued to a pair of binoculars, staring toward the black horizon.

He, the apprentice, has sighted a steamer in the distance.

He can make out the ship’s masthead light, her red light, and a glare of white lights on her afterdeck.

Stone asks the apprentice to try for communication by means of the Californian‘s Morse lamp.

A bright beacon signal is flashed.

No answer from the steamer.

“Will that be all, sir?”

Stone nods; the apprentice leaves to make record in the patent log.

Now Second Officer Stone is alone on the bridge.

Glancing idly over the water, a white flash catches his eye–a white flash of light in the direction of the distant steamer.

Stone scratches his head, picks up the binoculars.  Four more white flashes, like skyrockets bursting in the heavens.

Stone notifies the ship’s captain.

Over the voice pipe, the captain asks if the flashes appeared to be company signals.

Stone cannot say for sure.

The captain then requests further communication attempt through the Morse lamp.

By now Stone’s apprentice has returned to the bridge.  The beacon signal is employed once more.

Still no answer from the steamer.

Lifting the binoculars to his eyes once more, Stone observes three more flashes in the continuing light show, but now his attention is drawn to the steamer’s cabin lights.

They seem to be disappearing, as though the steamer were sailing away.

At 1:40 A.M., Stone sees the eighth and last white flash in the night sky.

In one hour, all the steamer’s lights have vanished into the blackness.

It is not until 4:00 A.M. that anyone on board the liner Californian learns THE REST OF THE STORY.

Neither the Captain nor the Second Officer aboard the Californian had interpreted the white skyrocket flashes as cause for alarm.

It was a matter of coincidence that they had been seen in the first place.  For earlier that night–the night of April 14–the Californian had reversed engines and parked as a precautionary measure, halted in her course by an immense field of oceanic ice.

That unscheduled stop in the middle of the sea had provided the Californian a ringside seat for an unimaginable drama.

The distant steamer had intended those rocket flares as distress signals, and the Californian–only nine miles away–might have rushed to her aid.

Except for one thing.  The steamer was sending other distress calls–by radio.  And the Californian was well within range of those messages.

But her radio operator was asleep.

The Californian‘s fledgling radio operator–fresh from training school–was fast asleep in his cabin.  And that night the ship’s Second Officer, from his vantage point on the bridge, unwittingly watched the sinking . . . of the Titanic.

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