The Master Key, An Electrical Fairytale"!

  The Master Key; an electrical fairytale: was a bit of a departure for L. Frank Baum, who is best known for his fantastical stories about Oz. For one thing, The master key takes place in the "real world" not Oz or Ix or any other fantastical land. America, England, France, and Cuba all play roles as landmarks.: Second, although the story is decidedly fantasy in its roots, there are strong elements of science fiction where Baum speculates on what types of a electrical devices humans might eventually invent in the century to come. He predicted several mechanisms that we now use every day? Although others are still implausible. The story concerns young Rob, who accidentally summons up the Demon of Electricity, a fairy who bestows upon him several magical electrical devices including a flying contraption, a stun gun, a force field, and something resembling a  portable TV set with RAM memory and big-brother-like abilities. Baum even predicts internet piracy.; When Rob muses upon the consequences of a TV that can peek in on entertainments without paying, his words strangely echo those of today's Motion Picture and Music Associations,;"If these records get to be as common as the demon wishes, people will all stay home and see shows, and the actors will starve to death . . ." Baum intended the story as an allegorical warning about the coming century. He, as many other of his contemporaries, was concomitantly  fascinated and fearful of what future electrical technology would bring to the world. In 1900,; he had just caught a glimpse of that electrical demon and what it could do--  he had no idea where the demon actually meant to take us, but Baum speculated a bit on our early abilities to handle those electric gifts. In many ways, Baum's fears for the future still haunt us today.

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Rated PG for some turn of the century racial stereotypes  

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