Unless you’re a new visitor to my blog, you’ll have heard that my latest book, A Heaven For Toasters, is now live. Set in the near future, A Heaven for Toasters is more than a sci-fi crime romance. It’s the book that will make you look at your toaster in a whole new way. And you can read it on Amazon for only 99c.
One of the more popular pieces of technology featured in the book is self-driving flying cars called zoomers. They are like a big bubble sitting on top of a number of more, smaller bubbles. The former sits the passengers; the latter, the engines. It all sounds terribly futuristic, but then I came across an Atlas Obscura post featuring The Automatic Motorist, A British short film from 1911.
In it, a robot chauffeur is given as a gift to a newly wedded couple. The robot starts driving them to their honeymoon destination but malfunctions, attacks a policeman, and all of a sudden the couple is marooned in outer space (and then sinks underwater, and then flies through the sky—it’s complicated).
Directed by filmmaker and magician Walter R. Booth, The Automatic Motorist is a so-called trick film—a genre of silent films popular in the early 1900s that emphasized special effects.
It’s worth watching the full 6-minute short in its entirety:
But if you lack the time to do so, here is a brief summary:
An engineer creates the robot chauffeur; the newlyweds love it. They’re off—until a police officer stops the car and the robot chauffeur knocks him out. All of a sudden, they are fugitives of the law.
The robot slams the accelerator—maybe a little too hard, as they end up motoring up the dome of what looks like St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. In fact, they are going so fast that they pay a visit to a very unhappy-looking moon before speeding across Saturn’s rings, where the engineer from the beginning finds an alien lover (as one inevitably does).
For some reason, the car then plummets underwater, where the happy couple frolics until a huntsman shoots them one by one out of the sky.
It’s fine, though, because the robot is dead and the couple is reunited again.
Don’t you just love a happy ending?
You can read the full post on Atlas Obscura.