The Battle of the Swash

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Barton, Samuel. The Battle of the Swash and the Capture of Canada. New York City: Charles T. Dillingham, 1888. Reprint Macdonald, Kate, Richard Bleiler, and Stephen Donovan, eds. Political Future Fiction: Speculative and Counter-Factual Politics in Edwardian Fiction. London, UK: Pickering & Chatto, 2013.[1]

Reviewed in the Political Future reprint (along with other novels) by Jason Ellis, SFRA Review #311 (Winter 2015): pp. 37-43.[2] Ellis finds the novel following "the model of Sir George Tomkyns Chesney’s The Battle of Dorking: Reminiscences of a Volunteer (1871), so see for the theme of future war with the future part of our past. Immediately relevant here, according to Ellis,

Barton weaves contemporary technology into the telling of his cautionary tale. For example, the city’s workers phone home to coordinate evacuation with their families before the British bombardment of the city, because in 1888, telephones were widely available in New York. He describes the technological superiority of the British military, and the desperate tactical innovations on the part of the Americans. The British fleet, “[represent] the most formidable naval power in the world, and presumably [contain] all the best and most approved offensive weapons known to modern science” (Barton 60). Besides rifled guns that can shoot over 10 miles, they also feature electric searchlights. However, these weapons are deployed in different ways. The British use their lights for spotting and intimidation while the Americans use buoyed lights as decoys during a nighttime offensive using suicide boats (the pilots and crew jump at the last moment before impact). (Ellis p. 38)

RDE, finishing, 5Aug21