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Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Books

The Crystal Button or, Adventures of Paul Prognosis in the Forty-Ninth Century

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The Crystal Button or, Adventures of Paul Prognosis in the Forty-Ninth Century

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Author: Chauncey Thomas
Publisher: Dodo Press, 2008
Gregg Press, 1975
Houghton Mifflin, 1891
Series: Gregg Press Science Fiction Series: Book 16
Book Type: Novel
Genre: Science-Fiction
Sub-Genre Tags: Utopia
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About the Book (written by David Hartwell): The utopia Chauncey Thomas describes in The Crystal Button may seem a remarkable vision for a late nineteenth-century Boston carriage-manufacturer writing in his spare time.

His hero, Paul Prognosis, goes into a coma for ten years after an accident and dreams that he is in the city of Tone (new Boston) in 4872, three thousand years in the future. It is a highly sanitized, perfectly organized world with sumptuous architecture - colonnades, triumphal arches, facades alive with sculptured decorations. Paul is filled with wonder by the way things work, and much of the novel is devoted to the operations of pure science - Tone's subway system for example, in which electricity and compressed air are the energy sources for rapid transit.

Unlike most utopian novelists Thomas does not moralize, though he faces an awkward paradox in the combination of stability and technology: everything must be changed but also remain permanent. All through the novel there are hints of unresolved anxieties which culminates when the comet Veda appears off schedule and destroys the ordered world of Tone, returning Paul to consciousness in the present.


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