I sometimes work up the covers for my books before they’ve been written. Hunting down the most appropriate image and fonts, and then fiddling with the design of the cover, is a great way to procrasinate. When I came across this image, purely by accident, I knew instantly that I didn’t have to go hunting. It was perfect for A Well-Educated Boy. Now I have to make a decision about the font. Should I use one that matches the period of the image, or go aggressively modern to suggest that the book is looking down the road at another version of the future?
The illustration is one of a large set of postcards created in 19th/early 20th century France. The images were whimsical predictions of what life would be like in the 21st century. They prove that we tend to predict the future in terms that reflect the world around us, and are usually limited by the images and concepts that we are already familiar with.
The text at the top of the image is: “In the year 2,000.”
In 1986, Isaac Asimov published fifty of the set, with commentaries, in a book titled Futuredays: A Nineteenth Century Vision of the Year 2000.
To see more of the set: http://publicdomainreview.org/collections/france-in-the-year-2000-1899-1910/