Titan (originally Futility)

Titan (originally Futility)


The Wreck of the Titan is a novel written in 1898, which centres around a ocean liner called the Titan that sinks in the North Atlantic after hitting an iceberg. The fascinating  book mimics what happened in the Titanic disaster, and was written fourteen years before the actual events. After the Titanic tragedy, the book was reissued with some changes to it.

In the Titan, the main character, US Navy Office John Rowland, has been dismissed by the Navy due to his alcoholism, therefore is working on the deck of the Titan ship. On an April night, the ship hits an iceberg, capsizes and sinks. After this, Rowland has a range of adventures including saving his young daughter by jumping into the iceberg after her and fighting with a polar bear.

The book ends on a positive note, as he is rescued by a passenger ship, leading to him overcoming his addiction and gaining a lucrative job in the government, whilst he gets his relationship back on track with the love of his life.

Similarities with the Titanic disaster

The book was written before the Titanic was even built, but there are some stark similarities between both the book and the actual events:

  • Both ships, the fictional and the real thing were described as ‘unsinkable’
  • Both had a shortage of lifeboats aboard
  • The Titanic carried 16 lifeboats, therefore there was less than half the amount of room needed to the passengers and crew. The Titan carried 24, as few as the law allowed.
  • Both ships struck an iceberg
  • The Titanic was moving at 22.5 knots when it struck the iceberg on 14th April in the North Atlantic. The Titan was moving at 25 knots when it struck the iceberg in the North Atlantic. Both were 400 miles away from Newfoundland.
  • Both ships sank, Titanic with just over half of her passenger and crew died, as did half of the fictional Titan crew.
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