A Problem With Details

Posted by on August 19, 2013

A Monday Morning Memo from The Wizard of Ads

James Cameron and Morgan Robertson have never met, yet they have written essentially the same story. Cameron’s version was made into a major motion picture. Robertson’s story is dead in the water.

What was it about Cameron’s story that we liked, and why did we reject the story of Robertson? In both stories an “unsinkable” luxury liner, filled with wealthy and glamorous passengers, strikes an iceberg on her maiden voyage and sinks to the bottom of the North Atlantic. The catastrophe happens in April and there is a terrible shortage of lifeboats. In these elements, both stories are identical.

Was our problem with Robertson’s version due to the fact that he didn’t pay enough attention to detail? Robertson tells us the ship is 800 feet long and displaces 70,000 tons of water. In Cameron’s story, however, the numbers are correctly given as 882 feet and 66,000 tons. Another such error is the name of the ship; Robertson chooses to call her “Titan.” Cameron goes with the name, “Titanic.”

“But, Roy,” you say, “It wasn’t the details that made us fall in love with James Cameron’s story of Titanic! Robertson probably just didn’t write as good a love story as Cameron.”

While I agree with you, I’m still troubled by the details. You see, Morgan Robertson made these mistakes because he didn’t wait for the Titanic to be built, designed, or even conceived before writing his story. Robertson published his book, “The Wreck Of The Titan Or, Futility,” in 1898, fourteen years before Titanic ever left Southampton Harbor.

Morgan Robertson got all the details wrong because he wrote about an historical event without waiting for the event to happen.

I sure hope he learned his lesson.

Roy H. Williams

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