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Post Info TOPIC: Albert Robida - the French H.G. Wells?


Legend

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Albert Robida - the French H.G. Wells?
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He is worth a google. Closer to Wells than to Jules Verne, apparently. Wrote La Guerre au vingtième siècle in 1887, and La Guerre Infernale in 1908.

Example of his Landships below:

 



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Legend

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I've always loved Robida's stuff since seeing a few pages of his illustrations in a book of sci-fi illustrations I got as a kid. Until very recently none of his stuff - he wrote several novels - was translated into English, but recently a US publisher translated 'The Twentieth Century' (but not 'War in the 20th Century').

Both his writing and drawing style are quite tongue-in-cheek but cover some grim material at times - in the 1880s he was drawing futuristic artillery firing chemical shells and biological shells (Artillerie Miasmatique), with the great guns being towed by horses in gas-masks!

He drew fantastical ironclad battleships that looked like floating fortresses - absurd to non-French eyes until you see a photo of a contemporary French battleship such as Le Hoche (see attachments)!

He drew one marvellous illustration of a war correspondent at the front near a giant gun, reporting over a telephone link. In another, a family sits at home watching a kind of television (he called it the telephonoscope, a weird combination of an Edison telephone loudspeaker and projected picture on a big screen) showing news coverage of some far away skirmish in an outpost of empire.



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Among the cascade of ideas that poured from his pen, one throwaway (in 'The Twentieth Century') was the 'rolling barricade', a competition entry for streetfighting during the 1953 Revolution that overthrows the government - look familiar?



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Legend

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Top stuff. I've seen the one of the war correspondent talking into a microphone. One of his illustrations shows a group of soldiers overlooking what seems to be a tank battle, but I can't get a decent-sized copy of it. He writes of "blockhaus roulants" - moving fortresses - and most seem to be on rails, so presumably he meant armoured trains. The far right pic that Roger has posted seems to show rail or tram tracks. In the pic I've posted at the top, most of the vehicles also appear to be on rails, but the ones bottom left might not be. They certainly bear something of a resemblance to the Saint-Chamond and Renault. One assumes he envisaged them being steam-powered, or maybe he did what you can do if you're a science fiction writer, which is just invent an imaginary means of propulsion.



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Legend

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Thanks for that James, all new to me despite a lifetime of avid science fiction reading.  A few more pictures - just links, to conserve our resources "here" (noting our galloping payment overheads which I presume are linked somehow to the burgeoning diskspace we use at the host site).

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/35103/35103-h/images/x-after-page-088.jpg (cyclists - with lances! - turtle-armoured artillerie de campagne and blockhaus roulants, I guess, in the background)

 

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/35103/35103-h/images/x-page-103.jpg (blockhaus roulant with an FT-like vehicle and yet more cyclists)



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Hi All you may find this link interesting "The Museum of Retro Technology" of particular interest the two wheeled Gyrocars and the ever popular Monowheel.....

http://www.douglas-self.com/MUSEUM/museum.htm

Cheerswink



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Legend

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You're welcome, Stephen. Thank you for the illustrations. Alas, the vehicles do seem to be wheeled rather than tracked, but so were Wells's Land Ironclads. I get rather tired of reading that Leonardo da Vinci invented the Tank, since he clearly did nothing of the kind, and only slightly less so of reading that it was H.G. Wells. Robida's vision, 15 years before Wells's, is in some ways more prescient in depicting an assortment of heavy and light armoured vehicles.

BTW, in Robida's novel the hero survives an attack by "Tanks," manages to capture one, and uses it against the enemy - thirty years before the Beutepanzer.



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Le Capitaine Danrit (Driant's nom de plume) is also known here (in France) as one of the pionneer writers of future-war stories, the Tom Clancy of pre-WW1. One of his novels features submarine tanks ... but I have not read it. The only one I have read so far "la Guerre Noire" uses the Capazza Lenticular Airship (a.k.a "the French saucer") in a war between France and united nations of Africa. Today all this is far from being "politically correct" but Driant being himself an officer, it is intersting to guess from his writing how the military thought of future weapons and enemies ....

JCC



-- Edited by JC Carbonel on Saturday 1st of October 2011 05:00:30 PM

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Steampunk

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I used to chuckle at the image of the horses in gas masks, until I came across photos of Chinese cavalry participating in nuclear tests. Even when you think Robida got it wrong, he still sometimes got it right.

Chinese%20soldier%20and%20his%20horse%20prepare%20to%20participate%20in%20exercises%20during%20a%20nuclear%20test.jpg



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The last few minutes of Peter Kuran's wonderful feature-length documentary Trinity and Beyond: The Atomic Bomb Movie (which has a magnificent score by William Stromberg, and which is narrated by - of all people - William Shatner!) features colour film of China's first nuclear weapon test, and shows to great effect cavalry troops mounted on their gas-mask clad horses as they gallop towards the mushroom cloud, waving sabres and firing machine-guns from the saddle as they go! It's the most extraordinary sight, a weird mixture of modern super-weaponry and Victorian-era soldiery...



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Well, that is certainly "one for the books" Richard. But I wonder how on earth did they find a horse that would suffer for its ears to be covered?  And the exhaust valve appears to me to be totally inadequate for anything more than a sedate canter (if even that) and poorly located in any event. I don't predict a great future for that design biggrin  But a most remarkable snap.

Steve

P.S. Thanks for additional comment Roger.  They found several horses that would stand to be outfitted like that?  Quite remarkable.  And they galloped them? Incredible.  The Chinese methods of "re-education" must be beyond formidable.



-- Edited by Rectalgia on Sunday 11th of December 2011 02:05:53 AM

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Rectalgia wrote:
The Chinese methods of "re-education" must be beyond formidable.

Indeed!

And here's a treat - someone has very kindly converted the relevant segment of The Atomic Bomb Movie and uploaded it in superb HD quality to youtube (thus saving me the trouble!):

Trinity and Beyond: The Atomic Bomb Movie - Chinese Nuclear Test



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Legend

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Excellent. But those are far simpler masks, leaving the eyes and ears alone, some have none. Thank goodness - I had visions of whole troops and squadrons of unfortunate neddies subjected to countless hours of Marxist dialectics and self-criticism sessions with punitive Chinese opera and sleep-deprivation the lot of any back-sliders.

16 October 1964 eh? Somebody would have been re-educated over that, but not the horses - the Chinese would most assuredly have been aiming for August 1 (PLA anniversary date, like it says on their hat badges) or October 1 (official anniversary of the PRC). But I guess all of October was auspicious too. All over SE Asia the tide was running.

The Royal Navy had just humiliated Sukarno in his Konfrontasi adventure, virtually propelling him into the arms of the PKI (and the eventual downfall of both, but that came later), the Americans were just discovering that Vietnam was no "brush fire" war and were brushing up on Eisenhower's domino theory and the Chinese were dusting off Li Youyuan's "The East is Red" as a virtual anthem for their revolution, past and future.

But no animals were discombobulated. Well, not deliberately. Tuffy the US Navy dolphin really liked to help. Truly he did. Despite the circumstances of his induction.

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Rectalgia wrote:

 But I wonder how on earth did they find a horse that would suffer for its ears to be covered?

hey, it's a propaganda picture, who says there's a horse underneath those Ray Bann inspired glasses anyhow?

 



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Rectalgia wrote:

Excellent. But those are far simpler masks, leaving the eyes and ears alone, some have none. Thank goodness...


Yes, the full masks with googles etc. seem only to be for parade purposes, it appears they removed the upper half when at the gallop. There also appear to be even simpler masks on some animals.



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Legend

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Some of those horse masks look like WW1 types, which makes sense - that's when most of the development occurred I suppose. As said, I had grave doubts about the efficiency of the "Robida"-futuristic model in the first picture. But, doing some quick calculations, I'm more relaxed now. Except for the problem of a horse allowing itself to be confined like that, certainly on the "industrial scale" needed for a whole cavalry troop or even larger formations. Try interfering with the ears of a horse, takes a LOT of trust. I'm sure the PLA weren't really devoted to the tactic of charging the "ground zero" of nuclear blast sites (with or without drawn swords), that was just a bit of fun and bravado and symbolism and crafty data gathering on the physiological effects. All the other early nuclear "powers" did the same, but without the fun and bravado and symbolism as far as I know.

Calculations - modellers and engineers are familiar with square-cube scaling factors (the Greeks and Romans of old knew all about it too, that's how they worked out their infernal war machines, from models, then scaled them up). When metabolic factors come into it, it is not quite so extreme. Respiratory and circulatory systems are, effectively, fractal and the scaling is "three-fourths power" from fractal geometry. Roughly speaking, if a horse is eight times the weight of a man you would expect his requirement for air to be 8^0.75 times greater than that of a man under like degrees of exertion, or about 4.75 times as much. (Probably more because horses are bred to be "super athletes" in human terms, and capable of greater than typical human-proportional peak exertion.) So, if you've used any kind of respirator, the filter and the exhaust valve flow rates need to be the same and are a real limit when it comes to high exertion regimes. Scale up for a horse and you're looking at filter and exhaust valve diameters about 2.2 times greater than human of equivalent design as a minimum (works on area of circles, near enough, and 4.75 increase of that).  The wash-up is that the ratio of filter/valve diameters varies as the ratio of body-weights to the three-eighths power (0.375):


Chart Respirator2.PNG

Which looks about right. Resistance to flow through the filter and through the exhaust valve are more significant factors but I assume those are more-or-less equivalent between human and equine types. Would prefer the exhaust valve to be closer to the nostrils though - some of those other respirators had side-mounted ones which are about perfect IMO.

Of course they didn't know about fractals in WW1, nor in 1964 for that matter, but the empirical approximations were known well enough and I suspect it would have been mostly intuition and trial and error anyway.

[Edit - use W2/W1 etc. in formula on chart, more conventional way to show base as W1 than other way around]



-- Edited by Rectalgia on Tuesday 13th of December 2011 10:51:55 AM

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Rectalgia wrote:

 Try interfering with the ears of a horse, takes a LOT of trust.

yes, though a 'good character' horse will have little problems with that, others (traumatic reasons, nervous characters etc.) won't let you to even touch their ears.


Roughly speaking, if a horse is eight times the weight of a man you would expect his requirement for air to be 8^0.75 times greater than that of a man under like degrees of exertion, or about 4.75 times as much.


 I don't know if you can make a comparison. I assume it's more about lung capacity and the breathing system which differs, for instance a horse only uses the nostrils and not the mouth.



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kieffer wrote:

 I don't know if you can make a comparison. I assume it's more about lung capacity and the breathing system which differs, for instance a horse only uses the nostrils and not the mouth.


Yes you can (I think).  Radical differences in blood chemistry, the density, type and efficiency of blood cells, things like that, would reduce the validity but nothing much short of those should.  Most terretrial mamals should be comparable.  Not sure about shrews and bats and such "high metabolism" types, they might have radical modifications in those areas.  Also the three-toed sloth, in the opposite direction.  But even with those there is a fundamental parimony in the "design" of basal systems, it sticks to the same "template", so maybe no problem.

Bottom line, if you want a gas-mask for a bat you might have to do some homework first.  More criticism due, I think, for my calculating the scale factors with utmost precision then blythly assuming/guessing ("looks about right") the relative sizes from the examples seen.  That is a real test, reality check - do observations agree with theory?



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