Time Travel, Dystopia, and the Manhattan Skyscraper in George Allan England’s The Last New Yorkers and Murray Leinster’s “The Runaway Skyscraper”

in Cityscapes of the Future
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Abstract

The skyscraper has assumed a prominent place in the metropolitan landscape, prompting science fiction writers to respond by enfolding these structures into their narratives. I focus upon two early-twentieth century works of science fiction; George Allan England’s trilogy Darkness and Dawn (1914) and Murray Leinster’s short story “The Runaway Skyscraper” (1919). In both narratives, the vehicle enabling time travel is the Metropolitan Life Insurance Tower which, surmounted by a large clock, was completed in 1909 and remained the world’s tallest building until 1913. I will argue that by incorporating modern architecture within the early twentieth-century time travel narrative, the skyscraper is transported into the perceived past or imagined future, acting as a versatile symbol of contemporary modernity.

Cityscapes of the Future

Urban Spaces in Science Fiction

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