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Animating the Science Fiction Imagination$
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J.P. Telotte

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190695262

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190695262.001.0001

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Inventions, Modern Marvels, and Mad Scientists

Inventions, Modern Marvels, and Mad Scientists

(p.85) Chapter 5 Inventions, Modern Marvels, and Mad Scientists
Animating the Science Fiction Imagination

J.P. Telotte

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses animation’s fascination with strange inventions, modern marvels, and their inventors. It organizes these depictions by linking them to two pre-war developments: Hugo Gernsback’s efforts at promoting the serious and practical side of science and technology, and Rube Goldberg’s satiric and cautionary vision of a modern technological society, usually offered in newspaper cartoon form. The chapter gives special attention to the various World’s Fairs and other exhibitions that were popular in the period and that were the frequent subjects of cartoons, especially by the Fleischers’ studio. In these and other films, we find both marvelous creations, catering to SF’s usual sense of wonder, and overly complicated, even dangerous inventions that comically victimize their users. This dual pattern is repeated in depictions of the scientists and inventors behind these devices, as they range from benevolent figures to the stereotypical “mad scientist.”

Keywords:   animation, scientist, invention, technology, World’s Fair, Rube Goldberg, robot, aircraft, television, modernism

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