If you’re a fan of HBO, or popular culture in general, you probably know about the series Westworld (if not, you should pop on over to HBO immediately following this article and check it out, it’s way too good to miss. Trust me, I watched all of it in one sitting). What you may not know, however, is that, between the years 1837 and 1838, Charles Dickens published a series of short stories in the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany. The collection was titled Mudfog and Other Stories, and included one story, in particular, that bares an eerie resemblance to the popular HBO series.
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In their article shedding light on this strange similarity, The Smithsonian noted that in The Full Report of the First Meeting of the Mudfog Association for the Advancement of Everything, a group of scientists meet to discuss a variety of proposals. One proposal, brought up by a man named Mr. Coppernose, describes a theme park filled with automaton figures (robots who look and behave human), so the wealthy visitors can riot and rage throughout the town; inflicting damage on the figures free of consequence.
Image Via Smithsonian
This premise feels too closely mirrored by Westworld, seeing as the entire series revolves around a theme park where the wealthy go to live out their wildest sins and inflict pain on a town filled with artificially intelligent robots.
The parks do, however, drastically vary in size. The Westworld park spans for about 500-square-miles, while Coppernose’s park only spans for ten miles.
Imege Via Westworld Watchers
Still, despite their variations in length, an immense amount of detail has gone into both parks, so they look and feel as real as the outside world. The Westworld park mimics the look and feel of a small-town community in the days of the wild west, while Coppernose’s park mimics rural-England and is said to include, “highway roads, turnpikes, bridges, miniature villages.” The park is also said to be inhabited by automaton police officers, cab drivers, elderly women, and more.
In Westworld, however, careful precautions are taken to ensure no humans are harmed during their stay. But in Coppernose’s park, pedestrians are brought in from the workhouse for the guests to hit and run over as they please. There is also a mock-trial that takes place in Coppernose’s park where guests are arrested by the automaton police force for their reckless, damaging behavior. A team of automaton magistrates are programmed to side with the humans.
Westworld is based on the 1973 sci-fi film of the same name, but has never been traced back to literary inspiration of any kind. Still, the parallels between the series and the Dickens story are too similar to not take note.Even if just by coincidence; it’s interesting to see how multiple creators have imagined up a world filled with humanoid robots where guests can go to live out their wildest rage. Maybe the future of blending artificial intelligence with amusement parks has always been a little bit closer than we think.
Featured Image Via Digital Spy