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Pearl Harbor, 1899

March 2023
1min read

The amazing predictions of Japanese strategy in World War n that were forecast in 1925 by Hector Bywater (“Japan Strikes: 1941,” December, 1970) have been topped, in part, by a discovery made by Robin Stahl Reagan, editor of the Cazenovia (New York) Republican . Reading William H. Honan’s article on Bywater brought to mind a short story that Reagan had once seen in a bound volume of Harper’s Round Table , which was a treasured memento of his father’s boyhood. The story, entitled “Sorakichi, — Prometheus,” by Rowan Stevens, predicts “Japan’s startling seizure of Honolulu and Pearl Harbor” at some unspecified time early in the twentieth century. The conquest is made possible by the cruiser Fujiyama , which is armed with “improved dynamite guns of great power,” and by the use of “air-ships.” Both have been designed by a “remarkable chemist” named Sorakichi. Fortunately, as the story goes, an odd-looking but inventive American naval officer named Thankful Adams meets the Fujiyama in battle aboard his peculiar gunboat Franklin , shoots the Fujiyama’s airships from the sky—with “controllable lightning"—and forces the Japanese warship to surrender. And then Adams, the hero of the hour, reveals that he is (or was) Sorakichi! If you don’t mind the credibility gap, and enjoy such imaginative fare, the story can be found on page 333 of the May, 1899, issue.

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