Gears and God: Technocratic Fiction, Faith, and Empire in Mark Twain’s America
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Williams, Nathaniel. Gears and God: Technocratic Fiction, Faith, and Empire in Mark Twain’s America. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 2018.
The publisher's notice on the book tells us
In Gears and God: Technocratic Fiction, Faith, and Empire in Mark Twain’s America, Nathaniel Williams analyzes the genre of technology-themed exploration novels — dime novel adventure stories featuring steam-powered and electrified robots, airships, and submersibles. [...] While their heyday occurred in the late 1800s, technocratic adventure novels like Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court inspired later fiction about science and technology. Similar to the science fiction plotlines of writers like Jules Verne and H. Rider Haggard, and anticipating the adventures of Tom Swift some decades later, these novels feature Americans using technology to visit and seize control of remote locales, a trait that has led many scholars to view them primarily as protoimperialist narratives. Their legacy, however, is more complicated.
The complexities include dealing with Biblical authority and " the preservation of a fraught Anglo-Protestant American identity as they were with spreading that identity across the globe."
In Science Fiction Studies #137 = 46.1 (March 2019): John Rieder recommends this work enthusiastly "for scholars of early science fiction, as well as for those wondering about the historical breeding ground for the US’s contemporary cultural and political morass."
RDE, Initial Compiler, 20Feb20