- "Now, I am going to show you, seriously, the organisms of the new electric human creature - The Future Eve - which, aided by the artificiality which has been in vogue for a long time, seems to meet in full the secret wishes of our race."—Thomas Edison (as written by Villiers de l'Isle-Adam)
The Future Eve (original title: L'Ève future. Also translated as Tomorrow's Eve and The Eve of the Future) is a French science fiction novel written by Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam in 1886.
The plot starts off with a fictionalised Thomas Edison (renamed "Professor X" in some editions) being visited by Lord Ewald - an old friend of his - who has ended up in a very dysfunctional relationship with his fiancée, Alicia. Edison's solution? Turn Hadaly - the Fembot he is working on - into a copy of Ewald's fiancée and have him marry her instead, with everybody else none the wiser.
Along the way, we are introduced to some other amazing things, including a movie with both colour and sound (years before either of those things actually existed), a secret, underground aviary with mechanical birds who can sing and recite poetry, and a woman who can achieve Astral Projection using a mystical ring. We also find out why exactly Edison is so keen on helping his friend, and Edison's children make a cameo or two.
The story created and codified several robot tropes. It is notable for popularising the term "android" (or rather, "andraiad") in the English language. In 1896, it was adapted into a movie in its native country, making it the first film to feature a robot. It is also believed to have inspired the 1927 novel/silent film Metropolis, which it shares quite a few concepts with. The anime Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence also references this story a few times. Hadaly herself would go on to appear in the Massive Multiplayer Crossover The Empire of Corpses.
This work contains examples of:
- Bait-and-Switch: Edison says that Hadaly will be more animated by electricity than most women. Not because she is a robot, as you might suspect, but because she is a brunette.Edison: "Brunettes are full of electricity."
- Beware of the Nice Ones: Hadaly is normally an empathetic Proper Lady, but Edison has given her a knife to defend herself with, and says that if anyone tried to make a move on her without her permission, she would stab them with it without hesitation. What's more, the knife actually conducts electricity, and would give anyone who touched it a lethal shock strong enough to burn their faces off. However, Hadaly never ends up in a position where she has to use it, so it becomes an Informed Attribute.
- Comically Missing the Point: Edison does this when Ewald asks him if he has to feed Hadaly. Probably intentionally.
- The Con: The creation of Hadaly is one in and of itself. Only Edison, Ewald and Sowana knows about her existence while everybody else carries out their work under false pretenses. The wigmaker is told that he is preparing a hair transplant for a woman who lost her hair in a fever, Edison's men believe that the mold of Alicia's head will be used to make a statue of her, and Alicia herself thinks that she is recording lines as an audition for a play.
- "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: If Edison hadn't decided to transport Hadaly as cargo just because "she should not be humiliated by the sight of the defective organisms of her human companions", then she might have survived the fire that broke out on the ship. Might being the key word, since 72 other people - who were presumably not stored in coffins - also died. Edison did say that she would "not be able to take a rough sea voyage," but putting her in a cabin and keeping her activated could have made all the difference.
- Decon-Recon Switch: Of the Robotic Spouse trope. Edison ensures Ewald that Hadaly will be a perfect wife, but Ewald is concerned that Hadaly might not even be self-aware, and that a relationship with her would be "a continual farce" and thus not a real relationship at all. The Reconstruction comes when it is made clear that Hadaly is sentient, actually has a thing for Ewald and has been trying to woo him through the story, at which point they get together.
- Diabolus ex Machina: The second to last chapter ends with most of the characters in a pretty good place. Ewald has gotten his lust for life back and has gotten together with Hadaly, who has been accepted as a real person. Edison is happy knowing that his invention has saved the life of a friend, and even Alicia has set out to get started in a new career, where she could be quite successful. So, the last chapter is just going to be a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue tying up any remaining loose ends, right? WRONG! It starts out well enough, with Ewald giving away his suicide gun since he doesn't need it anymore, but then Edison finds Sowana's corpse in his house, her sickness having finally taken her in. It gets even worse when - only a week later - Edison reads in the newspaper that the ship Le Redoubtable has sunken and realises that both Alicia and Hadaly have drowned, leaving both himself and Ewald all alone.
- Doing In the Scientist: Hadaly is at first treated like a normal - if very advanced - robot, but it's eventually revealed that some of her abilities actually comes from Sowana's magical influence.
- Elaborate Underground Base: Thomas Edison has (after moving and reburying the bones) turned parts of an ancient, subterranean burial site into a beautiful garden with a working elevator. He uses it both for personal recreation and as a storage room for his most secret inventions, including Hadaly.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: Played With. Edison is certain that Hadaly is such a perfect copy of Alicia that if you put the latter's dog in a Spot the Impostor situation, it would think that the robot was its owner and that the real Alicia was the impersonator. This setup never actually occurs, so we don't know if he's right or not.
- Liar Revealed: Towards the end of the book, the trope is played out in its entirety during a single chapter. Lord Ewald has a nice romantic evening with who he thinks is Alicia, only to realise that she is actually Alcia's robotic Doppelgänger Hadaly. Ewald has a complete breakdown, sees his life flash before his eyes and dismisses her as Just a Machine. Hadaly is heartbroken by his rejection, gives him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech and begins to leave. At this point, Ewald realises that Hadaly cares more about him, and has been treating him better than Alicia has. He forgives Hadaly, runs after her and apologises. Cue a Big Damn Kiss.
- MadonnaWhore Complex: Alicia is a shallow, unromantic, overly critical greedy ditz who just causes Ewald pain. Her robot double Hadaly, on the other hand, is a kind-hearted, intelligent, empathic Proper Lady who saves Ewald from depression and introduces him to the (literal) magical wonder of the world. Interestingly, this is the complete opposite of how this trope was later applied to the female Love Interest and her robotic Doppelgänger in Metropolis, which took some plot elements from this story.
- Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: The story starts off as pretty hard science fiction, with detailed explanations for how everything works. But it grows progressively softer as more mystical themes are introduced/emphasized, becoming outright Gaslamp Fantasy towards the end.
- No Antagonist: The only real obstacle the protagonists face is the fire which breaks out aboard S.S. Britannia, which ends up killing Hadaly. Some human characters come close, but none really fit the bill.
- Alicia Cleary is supposed to function as a Hate Sink for both Ewald and the readers. She is Hadaly's Shadow Archetype, and the source of Ewald's misery, but she has no idea that Ewald dislikes her, nor does she ever try to stop Edison or manage to figure out his real plan. In fact, she actually ends up inadvertently helping him complete it.
- Evelyn Habal seems to have been a more traditional antagonist, being Annie/Sowana's romantic rival, but she has been dead for years, and Edison only brings her up to make a point.
- Most of the conflict in the story actually comes from Edison and Ewald's disagreements on whether Edison's plan is a good idea, but even then they are still more or less on the same side throught the book, so this falls more under Teeth-Clenched Teamwork.
- No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Subverted. Edison tell Ewald that even if he gives Hadaly away, he still has the plans required to build more andriaids, but for whatever reason he has decided to not make any more of them, and the deaths of both Hadaly and Sowana probably seals the deal.
- The Ophelia: Hadaly starts out like this, though it's subverted when we find out that she isn't insane but actually has Psychic Powers, at which point she becomes more of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl.
- Pragmatic Villainy: If you consider Thomas Edison to be a Villain Protagonist, then he is a big believer in this trope. He explicitly does not want to pull off a Kill and Replace gambit with Alicia. Not because he disapproves of killing, but rather because it's completely pointless. Alicia has no idea of what he's doing, and it's unlikely that she would stay around, given that her relationship with Ewald is clearly falling apart. She also made it clear that she thought Edison's plays were too complicated for her. The only thing the professor really has to do is to recommend an easier form of theater and he will be rid of her.
- Robotic Reveal: Happens twice with Hadaly. Both when Ewald first meets her and later when she has assumed the form of Alicia Cleary.
- Hadaly's nightingale also turns out to be a robot with its singing voice recorded from a real nightingale.
- Stealth Pun: Sowana and Edison can communicate with each other - both directly and through Edison's telephone - using two magical rings. In other words, the telephone rings.
- Theme Naming: Every major character has a name starting with either an "E" (Edison, Ewald, Edward, Evelyn) or an "A" (Alicia, Annie.) The only exception to this is Hadaly and even she turns out to be possessed by Annie/Sowana.
- Title Drop: Aside from the mention in the page quote above, "The Future Eve" is also the name of Edison's fake play.
- Uncanny Valley: Edison is well aware of this trope In-Universe and has done everything he can to avoid it when creating Hadaly, making certain that she is completely indistinguishable from a real human.
- Undying Loyalty: Edison claims that Hadaly will be completely subservient towards whoever her master is. Though she does have some degree of free will, as she is capable of requesting things from Edison and believes herself to be keeping secrets from him.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The novel may have been based on the Real Life talking dolls Thomas Edison was developing at the time, and would release to the market a few years later. They were nowhere near as advanced as Hadaly, of course - they were simply toys for children - but they could sing using a phonograph in their stomachs, much like the Professor's andraiad. Unfortunately, they were not as good at avoiding the Uncanny Valley as Hadaly, and were pulled off the shelves because children found them too scary. Even Edison himself said that their voices were "Exceedingly unpleasant to hear."
- Why Would Anyone Take Him Back?: Ewald actually admits In-Universe that he probably doesn't deserve Hadaly after giving her two rather harsh "The Reason You Suck" Speeches during their date while she was just trying to make him feel better. She wasn't completely innocent herself, given that she was impersonating his fiancée Alicia at the time. But she wasn't actually expecting him to fall for it (and really, you could easily argue that he shouldn't have.)