Albert Robida (14 May 1848 – 11 October 1926) was a French illustrator, etcher, lithographer, caricaturist, and novelist. He edited and published La Caricature magazine for 12 years. Through the 1880s he wrote an acclaimed trilogy of futuristic novels. In the 1900s he created 520 illustrations for Pierre Giffard's weekly serial La Guerre Infernale.
He was born in Compiègne, France, the son of a carpenter. He studied to become a notary, but was more interested in caricature. In 1866 he joined Journal amusant as an illustrator. In 1880, with Georges Decaux, he founded his own magazine La Caricature, which he edited for 12 years. He illustrated tourist guides, works of popular history, and literary classics.
Albert Robida was rediscovered thanks to his trilogy of futuristic works:
Le Vingtième Siècle (1883)
La Guerre au vingtième siècle (1887)
Le Vingtième siècle. La vie électrique (1890)
These works drew comparison with Jules Verne. Unlike Verne, he proposed inventions integrated into everyday life, not creations of mad scientists, and he imagined the social developments that arose from them, often with accuracy: social advancement of women, mass tourism, pollution, etc. His La Guerre au vingtième siècle describes modern warfare, with robotic missiles and poison gas. His Téléphonoscope was a flat screen television display that delivered the latest news 24-hours a day, the latest plays, courses, and teleconferences.
Works with Pierre Giffard
Robida illustrated two works by Pierre Giffard:
La Fin du Cheval ("The End of the Horse"), on the inevitable replacement of the horse by the bicycle and then by the car.
La Guerre Infernale ("The Infernal War"), a 1908 serial adventure novel for children that appeared weekly every Saturday. Robida contributed 520 illustrations. The novel is set in the future and features uncanny parallels to World War Two, including an attack on London by Germany and a conflict between Japan and the United States. It was subsequently republished as a book.
La Sortie de l'opéra en l'an 2000 (c. 1902, digitally restored)Voyages très extraordinaires de Saturnin Farandoul, 1879 (translated by Brian Stableford as The Adventures of Saturnin Farandoul)
Le Vingtième Siècle, 1883 (translated by Phillipe Willems as The Twentieth Century)
La Guerre au vingtième siècle, 1887
Le Vingtième Siècle. La vie électrique, 1890 (translated by Brian Stableford as Electric Life)
Voyage de fiançailles au XXe siècle
Un chalet dans les airs (translated by Brian Stableford as Chalet in the Sky)
L'horloge des siècles, 1902 (translated by Brian Stableford as The Clock of the Centuries)