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Thiusen, Ismar

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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Pseudonym of Scottish-born academic and author John Macnie (1836-1909), in the USA from 1867 and on the faculty of North Dakota University 1885-1903. His Utopia, The Diothas, or A Far Look Ahead (1883; vt A Far Look Ahead, or The Diothas 1890; vt Looking Forward, or The Diothas 1890), set several millennia hence (almost but not quite in the Far Future), is prolific with suggestions of progress. The narrative describes Television, Computers, sophisticated urban planning that has transformed the New York of the future into a vertical garden, and a car-dominated Transportation system, while presenting a not untypically regimented picture of human relations, as usual more restrictive for women, who, if unmarried, go out only with chaperons. At the same time, all medical doctors are women, and almost all artists; and there are strict controls on the garnering of undue wealth, which may have seem unduly socialistic to Thiusen's contemporary readers.

Unusually, the book's protagonist and narrator, who is under the delusion that he has been in Suspended Animation since the nineteenth century, is in fact himself a native of the ninety-sixth century where the action takes place (which may explain the strangeness of his name, Ismar Thiusen); this does not prevent him from "returning" through time at the end of the novel. The Diothas is similar to Edward Bellamy's slightly later Looking Backward (1888) not only in its narrative devices (and the fact that in each novel the woman whom the narrator loves is named Edith), but also in the principles of organization and justice espoused in both texts. [JC]

see also: Sleeper Awakes.

John Macnie

born Stirling, Scotland: 3 April 1836

died Minneapolis, Minnesota: 31 October 1909



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