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Wells, H(erbert) G(eorge)

science fiction human world

(British, 1866–1946)

Known as the father figure of British science fiction, Wells foresaw many of the technological advances that we have now made. As a result he mapped out much of the territory which science fiction has now made its own; time and space travel, alien invasions, and the desecration of the world and its resources. Begin with The Time Machine (1895) in which Wells foresees a world divided into those with a pacific outlook, the Eloi, and those who want to wage war, the Morlocks. Both these species decay and become extinct as does life as we know it. Wells wrote many of the great classics of early science fiction including The Invisible Man (1897), The War of the Worlds (1898), and The First Men in the Moon (1901). The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896) is a shocking dystopia about life on an Island where a godlike vivisectionist surgically transforms animals into human form, creating the Beast People, wretches with human aspirations and animal instincts. Alongside his science fiction, Wells wrote social comedies which deal with the pretensions of the lower middle classes. In many of these books men in lowly professions decide to break away from the constraints of their daily grind and ‘go for it’. These novels had their origins in both Wells's lower-middle-class background and also his social idealism—for a while Wells was influential in the socialistic Fabian Society. Of these works, the best to start with is Kipps (1905).

Jules Verne, Arnold Bennett, E. M. Forster, J. B. Priestley.

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