I decided to look up “predict”, “prevent”, and “rebuild” (and their alternate ending forms). I felt that these words somewhat summarized the chronology of a population subjected to a catastrophe, as in the book.

“Predict” (including “predicting” and “predicted”) is present 18 times, 6 times in each part of the book. The context around “predict” begins with Mitchell’s thought that “if a disaster you predicted did come true, then your life had meaning” (pg. 32). However, after the hurricane that Mitchell had predicted had occurred, the context changed to him being expected to know everything else that would happen, he was “the guy who predicted . . .” (pg. 230).

“Prevent” came up 3 times, once in each part, and no alternate forms are used (“prevented” or “preventing”). “Essentially a futurist was asked to prevent the future from happening.” (pg. 236).  But the context of the word in this novel was never about physically preventing any type of catastrophe from happening, and this context didn’t change throughout the book. 

“Rebuild” (including “rebuilt” and “rebuilding”) is present 4 times, twice in Part 2 and twice in Part 3. The use of “rebuild” does not begin until after the storm (why it is not present in Part 1), and the meaning and context are consistent throughout the novel, referring to the work that will need to take place to repair the damage from the flood. “Invincible New York would persist, but it would be rebuilt as a canal city.” (pg.196).

I though a visual representation of the relative frequencies would be beneficial. This compares the frequency of each word by parts of the book.

predict prevent rebuild

I found that this supports our discussion about what FutureWorld actually does for its clients: lots of predicting, not much preventing, and the fated rebuilding that everyone must participate in after the fact.