Each side of the Atlantic, the twentieth century brought forth sundry secular prophets, telling of futures revealed in divers ways. H. G. Wells might still be lauded as doyen of them all. His most famous prevision came in 1913 when, in The World Set Free, he foresaw a war fought with ‘atomic bombs’ in 1959. More often, however, his interest in military science was too spasmodic. He gyrated between blimpish insensitivity to change and skittish indifference to continuity. In Anticipations (1901), he could only allow that heavier-than-air machines would fly ‘very probably before 1950’ (p. 191); and that submarines would rarely be lethal except to whosoever sailed in them (p. 200).