sábado, 18 de agosto de 2012

The Grandeur of H.G. Wells by Robert Crossley

“Gee! What a mind!" Charlie Chaplin is supposed to have exclaimed about H.G. Wells, as quoted by George Caitlin in a 1935 letter to Wells; “It must be grand to have a mind like that.” The plenitude of his conceptions, the visualizing power of his imagination, the sheer grandeur of his mind as it played over things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme constitute Wells’ legacy to the new literary form he helped build:
Most of his indelible contributions to what he called “scientific romance” were the product of his first decade as a professional writer, from the mid-1890s through the first years of the twentieth century. But the inventions of Wells’ youth made a durable impression on many other writers not usually identified with science fiction. T.S. Eliot, for one, called his story “The Country of the Blind” and the depiction of sunrise as seen from the lunar surface in The First Men in the Moon “quite unforgettable” (Parrinder 1972: 320).
For Hilaire Belloc, who would later fight with Wells over the Darwinian orientation of his Outline of History, the experience of reading “The Crystal Egg” was harrowing: “It is like a death,” he wrote to Wells in 1909- Joseph Conrad was so moved by The Invisible Man that he told the author, “your diabolical psychol­ogy plants its points right into a man’s bowels.” Years later he praised The War in the Air for its “extraordinary force and picturesqueness and a distinct grandeur of aspect" (Conrad 1898: II, 127; 1908: IV, 149).

As science fiction developed its distinctive literary character throughout the twen­tieth century, writers followed the trails Wells had blazed, and their imaginations were tutored by the great sequence of early Wellsian narratives: The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), The War of the Worlds (1898), When the Sleeper Wakes (1899), The First Men in the Moon (1901), and dozens of short stories that displayed a mind so rich in ideas that they spilled out of his fiction and into the fertile brains of other writers. Some imitated Wells, and others parodied him; some wrote fictional replies to his stories, some composed sequels, some adapted them to the media of film and radio. So pervasive was Wells’ influence on the evolu­tion of science fiction that in 1931, shortly after publishing the future history titled  Last and First Men, Olaf Stapledon offered this tribute to Wells, whom he had not then met and had not explicitly acknowledged in his book: “a man does not record his debt to the air he breathes in common with everyone else” (Crossley 1982: 35). Later in the same decade C.S. Lewis, in his 1938 anti-Wellsian journey to Mars Out of the Silent Planet, had his protagonist credit the power of Wells’ conception of Martian and lunar monstrosities to shape twentieth-century fantasies and nightmares about other worlds:

his mind, like so many minds of his generation, was richly furnished with bogies. He had read his H.G. Wells and others. His universe was peopled with horrors such as ancient and mediaeval mythology could hardly rival. No insect-like, vermiculate or crus­tacean Abominable, no twitching feelers, rasping wings, slimy coils, curling tentacles, no monstrous union of superhuman intelligence and insatiable cruelty seemed to him anything but likely on an alien world. (Lewis 1965: 35) 

Wells’ youthful scientific romances established the gold standard for science fiction through the first half of the twentieth century. By the century’s second half they were no longer the sole model for the genre, but they remained powerful and popular works that never went out of print and were available in multiple editions; Three of Wells’ novels — The Time Machine, The Island of Dr. Moreau, and The War of the Worlds — have appeared in scholarly, annotated “critical editions,”:a distinction accorded to no other science fiction writer. In J.R.R. Tolkien’s posthumously published “Notion Club Papers,” a discussion-fantasy set in the 1980s and 1990s, some science fiction enthusiasts self-consciously label themselves as “post-Wells,” unable and unwilling to get away with such Wellsian devices as an antigravity propellant or the “ridiculous transport”; employed by the Time Travellers But they still; revere Wells as one of “the forgotten Old Masters” whose stories rise splendidly above the limitations of their premises (Tolkien 1992: 165-6).
Leading practitioners of science fiction throughout the century — among them, Kim Stanley Robinson, Ursula K. Le Guin, Christopher Priest, Brian Aldiss, and Stanislaw Lem — paid homage to Wells’ originality, celebrated his early romances as artistic and conceptual touchstones, and exhibited his impact on their own work; Le Guin, introducing a twenty-first-century reprinting of The First Men in the Moon, observes the prescience of ; Wells' inquiry into the consequences of his lunar beings’ control over their own biological evolution: “This is a question we; a hundred years later, watching corporate science blithely alter genetic codes in plants, animals, and human beings, are just beginning to ask” (Wells 2003: xiii)

The response of other writers to Wells’ scientific romances helps explain why he is the indispensable figure in the history of science fiction, even though he neither orig­inated the form nor called it by the name we now know. Mary Shelley created the prototypes of some central themes and icons in science fiction: the responsibilities of the scientist and the figure of the alien (in Frankenstein) and the image of the future and the end of civilization (in The Last Man, a more ponderous production than her first novel). Later in the nineteenth century Jules Verne added other motifs to Shelley’s: travel through outer space, the subterranean journey, exploration of the ocean’s depths. His Voyages Extraordinaires took the wandering adventures of Odysseus and Sindbad into the industrial era. By the time Wells came on the scene in '1895 some conven­tions of scientific romance were already in place, but the accepted name for the new form did not get invented until the mid-1920s, by which time there were numerous examples of the genre. The name was conferred by an American editor and writer of limited imaginative gifts named Hugo Gernsback, who reprinted (without autho­rization) Wells’ fictions from the 1890s in his pioneering magazine Amazing Stories. With Wells’ by-then famous works as his Exhibit A, Gernsback devised the clumsy term “scientifiction,” later revised to the more pronounceable “science fiction,” and still later reduced by academic theorists to “SF” and by patronizing journalists-to “scifi.” Shelley, Verne, and Gernsback notwithstanding, Wells was the decisive shaper of the new form, its godfather if not its natural parent. He gave science fiction ampli­tude, vision, intellectual weight, moral texture, grandeur.    

In 1826 in The Last. Man Mary Shelley, wafted-Romantic readers, by way of a Sibylline fantasy, into the twenty-second century. Wells’ first major work — barely longer than a novella — got readers into the future by technological rather than mys­tical apparatus. It took readers on a bold ride, on a machine resembling a souped-up stationary bicycle, first into the year 802,701, and; in the climactic chapter of The Time Machine, to the year 30 million and the end of life on Earth. The central events , of Wells’ first masterpiece depict the devolution of humanity into two degenerate semihuman subspecies, Eloi and Morlocks, who represent the logical outcome of the divisions between the leisured and-the laboring classes as Wells knew them in 1895. Ursula Le Guin commented nearly a century later.that science fiction is neither pre­dictive nor prescriptive but descriptive; it may be set in an imaginary place or a distant future but it is essentially a revelation of the present. “Science fiction,” she asserts, “isn’t about the future” (Le Guin 1992: 153).

The Time Machine puts that principle into brilliant operation in Wells’ depiction of underworld Morlocks preying on languid Eloi in a reversal of the behavior of their Victorian ancestors. The rich who once (metaphorically) devoured the poor become in future time (literally) the food of their former victims. The anonymous inventor who travels through time undergoes something he had not anticipated: the political and moral education of his imagination. Expecting to discover the unfamiliar,, he instead confronts familiar, though previously unexamined, realities in every future setting through which he moves:
the decadence of privilege in the Eloi, industrial degrada­tion in the Morlocks, the fragility of culture in the Palace of Green Porcelain, the inexorability of the second law of thermodynamics on the deserted beach of the world’s end. The Time Machine’s grand spectacles and exotic visions promote judicious reflec­tion on self, society, and the universe. As Wells’ biographer David Smith has pointed out, the great achievement of his early fiction was not simply the incorporation of sci­entific talk into his. invented worlds but the deployment of new scientific under­standings in critically assessing how much progress human civilization was actually making (Smith 1986: 57). The reader begins the journey into the future, just as the Time Traveller does, as a tourist, but in the process of reading becomes an inquirer into the nature of history and civilization, into the prospects for human community, into the ultimate destiny of our species. With good reason Wells made the book’s central symbol of this narrative a sphinx — whose image appeared on the dust jacket of the first edition. Paralleling the monstrous Sphinx of ancient myth, Wells’ sphinx embodies the riddle of the future: who are these half-witted Eloi, and who are these skulking Morlocks? And the answer to that riddle, just as in the Sphinx’s riddle in the Greek story, is “Man.” Having framed The Time Machine in myth, having shaped it into a modern myth in its own right, Wells in his first major work of science fiction demonstrated the genre’s potential for conceptual grandeur.

Now almost universally recognized as the watershed event in the history of science fiction, the publication of The Time Machine established the template for Wells’ distinctive kind of fiction: the use of technologically ingenious, if not strictly plausible, premises; plots that are as much adventures in ideas as flights of fancy; protagonists who represent, for better and for worse, the modern scientific ethos; and narratives that function as Swiftian parables on the cultural practices and pretensions of a self-conscious age of progress. To state Wells’ fictional principles in this way makes him sound glumly didactic, but the Wellsian model for science fiction depends for its critical and educative effects on grand and startling visions. And the grandeur is of three kinds: conceptual, moral, and pictorial.
And perhaps there is a fourth, too: comic grandeur, most visibly on display in such short masterpieces as “The Man Who Could Work Miracles” and “The New Accelerator” but also ingrained in the texture of all his novel-length: scientific romances except the unfailingly gruesome Island of Dr. Moreau. In The Time Machine we have the perfect illustration of Wells’ deployment of all his talents for imagining on a grand scale the workings of the biological concept of devolution, for indicting the moral, bankruptcy of the Victorian leisure class by transforming it into the effete and helpless lot of Eloi, and for creating the splendid nightmare of the upstairs-downstairs world of the year 802,701. And then he slips in. the mock-grandeur of a farcical love affair between the Victorian gentleman- adventurer and his four-foot-tall girlfriend from the future. That the Time Traveller would grandiosely cast himself as her, chivalric protector but that Wells should give his lady the diminutive name of “Weena” is characteristic of the author’s comic subversion.


The concepts Wells pioneered are famous — so much so that they are now taken for granted by some readers who may not know who invented them or gave them their first memorable fictional incarnation: time travel, extraterrestrial invasion, animal experimentation, planetary exploration, atomic warfare. Even ancient motifs like invisibility are given stunningly fresh and modern treatments; The Invisible Man, one of several of Wells’ treatments of another venerable motif — the lunatic scientist  remains a sometimes amusing and ultimately shattering fable about alienation, ter­rorism, and self-destruction. Wells was never satisfied with a grand concept for its own sake, but subjected it to searching moral examination. Unlike Orson Welles’ ballyhooed 1938 radio adaptation, Wells’ War of the Worlds was far more than what the broadcaster called a Hallowe’en prank intended to give his audience the shivers. Wells wanted to astound his readers into thought — and in particular into thinking about what , the experience of being invaded is like. The Martians do to England what the Victorians had done to Africa, Asia, and the South Pacific — and Wells intended that his fellow English imperialists taste a dose of their own medicine.
He accom­plished that moral chastisement not by sermonizing but by depicting. Sometimes the depiction is by darkly humorous analogy, as when the narrator, recalling how he reas­sured his wife that the English army would quickly dispose of the sluggish invaders, sets his complacency in the context of an earlier historical episode of extermination on Pitcairn Island: “So some respectable dodo in the Mauritius might have lorded it in his nest, and discussed the arrival of that shipful of pitiless sailors in want of animal food. ‘We will peck them to death to-morrow, my dear’” (Wells 1993a: 73).

But even more often, Wells relied on spectacle and tableau — the “special effects” of literature — to apply shock therapy to inert minds. His Martian novel is full of such scenes: the sudden, flaming immolation of a deputation of villagers, pitifully and far­cically carrying a white flag towards a pair of Martians armed with an unguessed-at laser technology; the sight of three-storey-high Martian fighting machines on articu­lated legs moving swiftly and at will through the suburban countryside; the unfor­gettable enactment of the evacuation of six million Londoners, in utter disorder and panic, to the north and the east; the clinical view of Martian anatomy through the eye of the narrator pressed up against a peephole in the wall of a collapsed house; the Martianizing of the English landscape as a fast-proliferating scarlet weed overruns gardens and chokes rivers. It should not be surprising that Wells eventually longed to make his mark in the new century’s newest art form (an ambition he finally achieved in old age with quite mixed results in the 1936 film Things to Come) because his imag­ination was scenic and cinematic.

Wells’ best fiction always has scenes of startling pictorial grandeur and fluidity, as if the camera in Wells’ mind could not rest content with a single perspective. There are the anamorphic beast-men that emerge from the vivisectionist’s operating room in The Island of Dr. Moreau who look sometimes nearly human and then, from another angle, appear disquietingly like the animals whose genetic inheritance surgery cannot fully eradicate.
The Invisible Man has a stunning scene of metamorphosis in which we watch the color bleach out of Griffin’s skin when he first assumes invisibility; then, even more dramatically, at the story’s end the vigilantes who have beaten him to death watch the invisible man’s corpse slowly return to visibility, with the terror and suf­fering of his face fully revealed. Wells was drawn especially to alternative perspectives from the air, to the panoramic shot that could disclose a view both grand: and terri­fying, that could not be gotten from down below and within a disaster. His account of the mass exodus from London in The War of the Worlds, for instance;
is succeeded by a description of the entire event as it would appear to a balloonist hovering over the city of London, watching the growing mass of black poisonous gas unleashed by the Martians begin to blot out whole districts of the city map. The balloon gave way to the airplane as Wells’ favored vehicle for this kind of cinematic technique: the view of a futuristic city as seen from a fighter plane in When the Sleeper Wakes, the aerial bombardment of Manhattan in The War in the Air, the dropping of an atomic bomb (a term Wells famously coined) on Berlin, as witnessed by the aviators in The World Set Free who feel they are “looking down upon the crater of a small volcano” from which “a shuddering star of evil splendour spurted and poured up smoke and flame towards them like an accusation” (Wells 1988: 71).

The visual grandeur of Wells’ fictions is the product of great technical mastery of language and perspective in the service of the cleansing of perception. For all the wealth of his ideas, the first great modern writer of science fiction brought to his com­positions a dramatic and even lyrical imagination that animated those ideas and trans­ported readers into an urgent “sense of precariousness” that Brian Stableford has characterized as a hallmark of Wells’ fiction (Stableford 1985: 64).
Of all Wells’ early masterpieces perhaps The First Men in the Moon — even more than the better-known Time Machine and War of the Worlds — most fully exemplifies the craft of his fiction. In his older years Wells tended to disparage his scientific romances, calling The Time Machine, tot instance, an “undergraduate performance” (Wells 1931: ix). But he remained proud of The First Men in the Moon. In the Atlantic edition of his collected works in the mid-1920s he looked back on that romance as one that he had sedu­lously polished” (Wells 1924:1, x).

Wells never surpassed the lyricism of The First Men in anything else he wrote. The sixth and seventh chapters, describing sunrise on the moon after fourteen days of frigid darkness and the sudden and rapid germination of lunar flora as the icy surface warms up, are the most celebrated instance of Wells’ gift for animating a landscape. Vapors bubble and steam as the frozen atmosphere outgasses under the blazing sun; seeds crack open and thrust roots into the thawing ground; buds and spiky leaves swell and shoot up with precipitate speed. As he narrates these wonders the playwright Bedford asks, “How can I describe the thing I saw?” (Wells 2003: 58)
And yet he does describe the ineffable — with vivid and energetic precision. “It was like a miracle, that growth. So, one must imagine, the trees and plants arose at the Creation and covered the des­olation of the new-made earth” (Wells 2003: 60). Wells read Paradise Lost in the 1890s and he must have recalled Milton’s account of the six days of Creation in Book VII — and the extraordinary third day, in particular, with grasses and vines and shrubs and trees bursting through the crust of the earth, rising, bristling, flourishing, dancing as the planet turns green. As a teenager Wells dreamed of how reviewers might one day boost his literary productions (“Beats Paradise Lost into eternal smash!” read one imag­ined blurb [Wells 1957: 14]). If the chapters on the lunar sunrise do not quite dis­place Milton, it is nonetheless true that a Miltonic vibrancy of language and vision energizes Wells’ depiction of life on what was thought a dead world. Concluding his description; Bedford celebrates the pictorial splendor of the event. And then he calls specific attention to the unusual angle of vision from which, within a spherical glass spaceship; he has witnessed this miraculous growth. The paragraph is all about vision­ary grandeur:

Imagine it! Imagine that dawn! The resurrection of the frozen air, the stirring and quick­ening of the soil, and then this silent uprising of vegetation, this unearthly ascent of fleshiness and spikes. Conceive it all lit by a:blaze that would make the intensest sun­light of earth seem watery and weak: And still around this stirring jungle, wherever there was shadow, lingered banks of bluish snow. And to have the picture of our impres­sion complete, you must bear in mind that we saw it all through a thick bent glass, distorting it as things are distorted by a lens, acute only in the centre of the picture, and very bright there, and towards the edges magnified and unreal. (Wells 2003: 60-1)


Wondrous as these passages of metamorphosis and visionary splendor are, as yet Wells has touched only: the surface of the moon. The full implication of the unexpected preposition in his title — Cavor and Bedford are to be the first men in the moon — emerges after the explorers peer down the enormous shaft disclosed when an automated lid slides open inside a lunar crater. They glimpse a world inside the moon, with faint lights and moving shapes far below in a labyrinth of tunnels and bridges, factories and transport systems, caves and towering staircases and an immense central sea. Wells had a fondness for such pits and passageways, as readers of The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds,
When the Sleeper Wakes, and “The Door in the Wall” can see. And John Huntington has observed that in structuring his moon with a lush garden on the surface and a machine culture below ground Wells has recapitulated the oppositions of day and night, upper-world paradise and lower-world hell of The Time Machine (Huntington 1982: 92-4). Here in The First Men, however, we have the unusual chance to see Wells pick up on an undeveloped possibility from a previous book.
The world of the Morlocks in The Time Machine is never fully described. The Time Traveller spends one tantalizing chapter climbing down a vertical tunnel into their subterranean habitat; after a quick and rather unrevealing look around that dark underworld, illuminated only by matchlight, he scampers back up to the surface with Morlocks in hot pursuit. In The First Men Wells exploits the opportunity, which he threw away in The Time Machine, to describe an interior world in richly inventive detail.

The First Men is a sharply critical work in which Wells exposes not only the coarseness of Bedford’s mercantile and colonialist interests in lunar exploration and the failures of imagination in the scientist Cavor’s singleminded devotion to “pure research,” but also the tyranny of the dystopian society of the moon-dwellers — or Selenites, as Cavor at first calls them. In one of Wells’ most famous passages of Swiftian two-edged satire Cavor encounters an example of lunar education that horrifies him: Young Selenites being trained for occupations as machine tenders have been packed into urns from which only their forearms protrude; their limbs are nourished intravenously while the rest of their bodies, having no functional purpose, are allowed to waste away. Cavor’s discomfort at this sight indicts both lunar and terrestrial civilization:

It is quite unreasonable, I know, but such glimpses of the educational methods of these : beings affect me disagreeably. I hope, however, that may pass off, and T may be able to see more of this aspect of their wonderful social order. That wretched-looking hand- tentacle sticking out of its jar seemed to have a sort of limp appeal for lost possibilities; it haunts me still, although, of course, it is really in the end a far more humane proceeding than our earthly method of leaving children to grow into human beings, and then making machines of them. (Wells 2003: 20.0-1)


The final scenes of The First Men in the Moon are brilliantly narrated through Cavor’s telegraphed dispatches from the interior of the Moon, after Bedford has managed to escape alone back to Earth. We learn of Cavor’s teaching English to the “mooneys,” his tour of lunar cities, his observations of the extraordinary variety of insect-like physiology among the Selenites; we meet his tutors, who are also ominously his guards, with the deliciously silly Gilbert-and-Sullivan names of Phi-oo and Tsi-piuff; and, most dramatically, we are ushered into the presence of the Moon’s ruler, the Grand Lunar. Enthroned like Milton’s Satan in blazing light in a vast, darkened chamber,
the Grand Lunar is all brain: a colossal mass many yards in diameter and resembling “an opaque, featureless bladder” atop a pair of “minute elfin eyes” and a tiny, residual body of pale, shriveled limbs. The grandeur of this monarch is, as even the slow- witted Cavor can see, inseparable from his grotesquerie: “It was great. Its was pitiful” (Wells 2003: 208). Cavor’s several interviews with the Grand Lunar result in disclosures of the history of human irrationality, depravity, nationalism, and conquest. When at last Cavor starts explaining the practice of human warfare the Grand Lunar is both perplexed and incredulous. He tells him to “make me see pictures” to help comprehend this inconceivable phenomenon. Cavor, with all the naive complacency of Lemuel Gulliver standing before the King of Brobdingnag, readily obliges:

I told him of the first orders and ceremonies of war, of warnings and ultimatums, and the marshaling and marching of troops. I gave him an idea of manoeuvres and positions 'and battles joined. I told him of sieges and assaults, of starvation and-hardship in trenches, and of sentinels freezing in: the snow. I told him of routs and surprises, and desperate last stands and faint hopes, and the pitiless pursuit of fugitives and the dead upon the field. I told, too, of the past, of invasions and massacres, of the Huns and Tartars, and the wars of Mahomet and: the Caliphs, and of the Crusades. (Wells 2003: - 216)

In fact, the more Cavor reveals about human conflict, the more the Grand Lunar requires cooling sprays to be applied to his fevered brain - and the greater jeopardy Cavor creates for himself. Once the Grand Lunar understands that the secret of space travel rests entirely with Cavor and once he makes the logical inference from the history of human voyages of exploration on their own planet to the likely future consequences should more humans come to the Moon, Cavor’s fate is sealed. Cavor’s last messages are garbled and fragmentary as the Selenites apparently start blocking his transmissions to Earth, and the concluding silence is both inevitable and funereal. The ending of The First Men in the Moon,bears out Patrick Parrinder’s suggestion that in Wells’ best works justice is more poetic than scientific or cognitive (Parrinder 1995: 11).


Wells was thirty-five when his lunar fantasy was published and the trajectory of his career :was: finally beginning to define itself. He would not just be a scientific romancer. In The First Men, as in When the Sleeper Wakes, there are clear glimpses of the kind of writing that would preoccupy Wells for his, remaining forty-five years: discussion novels, cultural prophecy, utopian speculation. The science fiction Wells wrote in the early years of the twentieth; century is marked — some would say, is infected — by those new preoccupations. The Food of the Gods (1904), In the Days of the Comet (1906), The War in the Air (1908), and The World Set Free (1914) all have more heavy-handed designs on the reader than his earlier fictions.
In The Food of the Gods, his story of the invention of a “boomfood” that looses giants on the world, Wells’ allegorical intent thrusts itself on the reader more crudely than in the finely tuned grotesque romances of The Island of Dr. Moreau and The Invisible Man. But even here flashes of Swiftian wit persistently light up the narrative, and Wells’ brilliance at lurid scene-painting invigorates the ghastly incident in which an unsuspecting London science teacher puts his bare arm into a pond in which the larvae of water beetles, having ingested some of the growth-enhancing food, have metamorphosed into aggressive; muscular, snapping, blood-sucking monsters.

Throughout his long career Wells never really lost his gift for science-fictional imagining, though he chose to use it only infrequently after the first years of the new century. One of his incomparable short stories, “The Door in the Wall” (1906), and-a very late screenplay for an unshot film titled “The New Faust” (1936) are reminders of the persistence of fantastic romance in his work.
His long futuristic dream-vision of 1933, The Shape of Things to Come, became the basis for the visually splendid though rhetorically bombastic 1936 film Things to Come, perhaps the most interesting failure in the history of science fiction cinema.. As late as 1937 he was still exploring the notion of an invasion from Mars, though this time through a form of psychic “body-snatching” rather than with the machinery and monsters of The War of the Worlds. The protagonist of Star-Begotten actually allows Wells a moment of mischievous reflexivity, when his earlier and more famous Martian novel is semi-recalled: “Some of you may have read a book called The War of the Worlds  — I forget who wrote it — Jules Verne, Conan Doyle, one of those fellows” (Wells 1937:62).


The real joke here is that it is the author of Star-Begotten who has largely been forgotten, not the author of The War of the Worlds. For readers in the twenty-first century, Wells’ great scientific romances, written mostly in the last years of the nineteenth, will continue to haunt and stimulate the imagination. In certain respects they will seem period pieces (village life in The Invisible Man, the male clubbiness in The Time Machine, the 1890s Mars mania of The War of the Worlds),
and the scientific premises of most of them will be risible. But even in their own day that was true, as Wells was always ready to acknowledge: he depended on an “ingenious use of scientific patter,” he wrote in a preface to a collection of his science fiction, to engage the reader’s imagination not in the scientific ideas and „issues themselves but in new ways of seeing and assessing human behavior, new angles of vision on familiar shortcomings (Parrinder and Philmus 1980: 241-2).
He had a genius for projecting perennial dilemmas about human nature onto Martians or moon-dwellers or Morlocks or invisible men. That is where the grandeur of Wells’ writing comes into play^ He, had some reservations about how long his fiction would, or should, last. And in a famous scene in The Time Machine his traveller passes through a library in the far future and observes the books of the past crumbled into dust. But if Wells himself had a skeptical view of all forms of immortality,
including literary immortality, there still may be reason to reflect on the verdict of the great Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges who predicted that the early books of Wells would enter, “the general- memory of the species and even transcend the fame of their creator or the extinction of the language in which they were written” (Parrinder 1972: 332).

References and Further Reading

Bergonzi, Bernard (1961) The Early H.G. Wells: A Study of the Scientific Romances. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Conrad, Joseph (1986-1990) Collected Letters, Vol. II: 1898-1902; Vol. IV, 1908-1911. (eds.) Frederick R. Karl and Laurence Davies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Crossley, Robert (ed.) (1982) “The Letters of Olaf Stapledon and H.G. Wells, 1931-1942,” in Science Fiction Dialogues, (ed.) Gary Wolf. Chicago: Academy Chicago:
Crossley, Robert (1986) H.G. Wells. Mercer Island, WA: Starmont.
Draper, Michael (1987) H.G. Wells. London: Macmillan.
Huntington, John (1982) The Logic of Fantasy: H.G. Wells and Science Fiction. New York: Columbia University Press.
Le Guin, Ursula K. (1992) The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy ,and Science Fiction, revised ed. New York: Harper Collins.
Lewis, C.S. (1965) Out of the Silent Planet (1938). New York: Macmillan. McConnell, Frank (1981) The Science Fiction of H.G. Wells. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Parrinder, Patrick (ed.) (1972) H.G. Wells: The Critical Heritage. London and Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Parrinder, Patrick (1995) Shadows of the Future: H.G. Wells, Science Fiction and Prophecy. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.
Parrinder, Patrick and Robert Philmus (eds) (1980) H.G. Wells’ Literary Criticism. Brighton: Harvester Press.
Philmus, Robert and David Y. Hughes (eds)  (1975) Early Writings in Science and Science Fiction by H.G. Wells. Berkeley and London: University of California Press.
Slusser, George, Patrick Parrinder, and Daniele Chatelain (eds) (2001) H. G. Wells’ Perennial Time Machine. Athens, GA and London: University of Georgia Press.
Smith, David C. (1986) H.G. Wells Desperately Mortal: A Biography. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
Stableford, Brian (1985) Scientific Romance in Britain 1890-1950. London: Fourth Estate.
Tolkien, J.R.R. (1992) “The Notion Club Papers,” in Christopher Tolkien (ed.) Sauron Defeated: The History of Middle Earth, Vol. IX. Boston and London: Houghton Mifflin.
Wagar, W. Warren (2004) H.G. Wells:Traversing Time. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.
Wells, H.G.(1924-1928) The Works of H.G. Wells (The Atlantic Edition), 28 Volumes. New York: ' Scribner. .
—— (1931) The Time Machine: An Invention (1895) New York: Random House.
—— (1937) Star-Begotten: A Biological Fantasia. New York: Viking.'
 —— (1957) The Desert Daisy, (ed.) Gordon N. Ray. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
 —— (1987) The Definitive Time Machine: A Critical Edition of H.G. Wells’ Scientific Romance, (ed.) Harry M. Geduld. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. .
——(1988) The World Set Free: A Story of Mankind (1914). London: Hogarth Press.
—— (1993a) A Critical Edition of The War of the Worlds: H.G. Wells' Scientific Romance (1898) (eds) David Y. Hughes and Harry M. Geduld. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
——(1993b) The Island of Doctor Moreau: A VariorumText (1896), (ed.) Robert M. Philmus. Athens and London: University of Georgia , Press.
-——(2003) The First Men in the Moon (1901). New York: Modern Library.

In: A Companion to Science Fiction. edited by David Seed. Oxford, Blackwell Publishing, 2008, pp.353-363.

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