When Jules Verne wrote Robur The Conqueror in 1886, powered flight was still in its infancy. The Wright brothers were decades away, and inventors on the Continent were still experimenting with glider-like designs and balloons. So the fact that the story's protagonist, the brilliant inventor Robur, boldly declares that motored heavier-than-air machines are the future was pretty daring. Robur's craft, the Albatross, is the progenitor of the modern helicopter on a grand scale – an enormous floating platform lifted by multiple propellers aligned parallel to the ground. The antagonists of the story, the engineers of the Weldon Institute, are so threatened by Robur's ingenuity (well, he also kidnaps them, but that's neither here nor there) that they try to blow it up in mid-air.