Robert Duncan Milne: The ‘World’s First’ Sci-Fi Writer Who Predicted The Advent Of Drones

The Scotsman influenced an entire genre and didn't live to see it

Image Liberty Drones Philly

Is it just us or is Netflix now saturated with sci-fi shows and films? There’s the most recent freaky existential series The OA, not to mention Sense 8, Black Mirror, and the ubiquitous Stranger Things.

It’s a sign of the times, we are in the age of digital discovery, the future is now, and therefore it makes sense our entertainment would reflect such happenings.

One man we can thank for this is Scottish 19th century sci-fi writer Robert Duncan Milne, never heard of him? Neither had we. But he’s a significant progenitor of science fiction and his works predicted a great many technological accomplishments we use today.



The Courier recently delved into the life of this obscure author who they say ‘is thought to have been the world’s first full-time science fiction writer’.

Born in Cupar, Scotland, in 1844 and educated at Oxford where he read classics, then emigrated to San Francisco where he became an engineer, which didn’t quite work out, prompting him to try his hand at writing, not unlike one of his pals, fellow Scot and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde author, Robert Louis Stevenson.

Sixty of his stories were published in The Argonaut, a local newspaper, and inspired by his prior engineering experience, his work contained descriptions of some pretty amazing inventions.

“Other stories predicted the rise of cinema as an entertainment form, the ravaging of the earth by a comet strike, drone bombers, self-guiding missiles, and suspended animation,” reports The Courier.




His story had a sad end when he was hit and killed by one of the first automobiles to arrive in San Francisco at the age of 54. What horrible irony. 

His works can be hard to come by, but lucky for us renowned science fiction historian and book collector Sam Moskowitz compiled a collection of Milne’s works into a book he edited called ‘Into The Sun & Other Stories’.

It’s available on Amazon for a pretty penny, but if you’re a sci-fi history buff, then get it here.

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Loaded staff writer Danielle De La Bastide has lived all over the planet and written for BuzzFeed, Thought Catalog as well as print publications throughout the Caribbean.