Friday, April 13, 2018

"They've given you a number, and taken away your name."

I've been trying to to trace back the origins of the science fiction trope of giving futuristic characters numerical names, usually for dystopian or (in the case of W. H. Auden's Unknown Citizen  a.k..a. JS/07 M 378) satiric effects, particularly of the practice of reducing people to data points. In Auden's poem, it was the bureau of statistics that singled out the modern-day saint. .

However, the earliest example I can come up with was by no means dystopian or saatiric.
Ralph 124C 41+, by Hugo Gernsback, is an early science fiction novel, written as a twelve-part serial in Modern Electrics magazine beginning in April 1911. It was compiled into novel/book form in 1925. While one of the most influential science fiction stories of all time, modern critics tend to pan the novel and few people read it today. The title itself is a play on words, ( 1 2 4 C 4 1 + ) meaning "One to foresee for one another".

 Since we like to close the week on a musical note.

The title quote, by the way, comes from the theme used for the American airings of that show's predecessor.

And, while we're at it, here's the original theme

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