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Yesterday at the Exposition

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"Yesterday at the Exposition [from the Times-Herald, June 27, 2090]" is an early short story by L. Frank Baum. Baum submitted his story in a contest run by The Chicago Times-Herald, for stories on the theme of "Chicago's International Exposition, A.D. 2090." The concept was that the stories were reports on an imagined World's Fair held in Chicago two hundred years in the future. Baum's story was printed in the newspaper on Sunday, 2 February 1896; it won third prize.

Baum had written anticipations of the future before; similar material had appeared in his Our Landlady columns in The Aberdeen Pioneer earlier in the 1890s. In the Times-Herald story, his predictions ranged from the technological to the spiritual. He anticipated something like motion pictures, via a device he called a "reflecting kinetoscope." For long-distance communication, on the other hand, people of the future employ a means of thought-transference. An advanced fertilizer allows stalks of wheat to mature in fifteen minutes.

Politics change — Ireland is an independent republic — and women's rights advance markedly: the President of England is a woman. Baum's imagined world's fair of the future includes a display of women's fashions of the past (that is, his own era) — though audiences of the future find it hard to believe that women actually wore the corsets, long skirts, and other garments displayed.

The story was reprinted in The Baum Bugle, in 1976.

References

  • L. Frank Baum. Our Landlady. Edited and annotated by Nancy Tystad Koupal. Lincoln, NE, University of Nebraska Press, 1999.
  • Katharine M. Rogers. L. Frank Baum, Creator of Oz: A Biography. New York, St. Martin's Press, 2002.

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