Detroit 2100: Geodesic Dome, Anyone?
Stowe, Lyman E. Poetical Drifts of Thought; or, Problems of Progress . . . The Formation of the Solar System—Evolution—Human Progress—Possibilities of the Future—Including Spicy Explanatory Matter in Prose. Detroit, Mich.: Lyman E. Stowe, Publisher, 1884.
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One of the most original, forward-thinking and eccentric books ever produced. This self-published author’s “drifts of thought” lead to a sci-fi fantasy world, but the genius and humor of his “spicy explanatory matter” just may have you rethinking everything you thought you knew, including perhaps the future of the U.S.’s most blighted city. A Detroit author and occasional publisher on esoteric topics, Lyman Stowe here uses a mix of stock illustrations and remarkable naive woodcuts – the blocks for which are now also at AAS – to depict the many future wonders he predicted: dining at nutritive tubes, resurrection of the dead in a laboratory, air war-fare, seamless garments made from water and electricity (“possibly this was the manner in which Christ’s coat was manufactured”). Among his less dramatic thoughts are a remarkably perceptive defense of the poetry of Walt Whitman, defenses of racial equality, several poems on the Civil War (of which he was a wounded veteran). Stowe also includes a three-foot fold-out woodcut of the view of his present-day Detroit’s waterfront, but predicts for “City on the Straits” a future that by 2100 involves covering the entire city in glass and growing tropical fruit. Perhaps someone should contact Detroit’s city hall.