It’s hard to know where to begin with H.G. Wells (1866-1946). His remarkable career included writing The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Invisible Man, Kipps, The History of Mr Polly, and at least another 45 novels. He also penned more than 60 non-fiction books during a prolific career in literature.
A thinker and a visionary, Wells is famous for producing pioneering science fiction novels and is often compared to Frenchman Jules Verne, but there is so much more to his work than rampaging Martians. This highly influential author also wrote about politics, class, religion, history and society.
One of his early successes was the snappily titled Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress Upon Human Life and Thought. This 1901 book was originally serialized in a magazine and attempted to envision life in the year 2000. He predicted the advancement of trains and cars, and the effects these forms of transport would have in dispersing populations away from major cities.
The themes of time travel, space travel, invisibility and extraterrestrial invasion - seen in his science fiction works - are all standard narratives in today’s entertainment industry from comics and books to films and television to video games. He wrote during a period when Britain’s empire stretched around the world and in the novel The First Men in the Moon he imagined Britons making the first lunar landing.
The War of the Worlds is not just science fiction but also falls into the ‘invasion literature’ sub-genre. Orson Welles’ famous radio adaptation of this story was broadcast in October 1938 and caused such a stir by delivering the story, for the most part, as a news bulletin without any commercial breaks.
Wells considered the effects of nuclear warfare in The World Set Free – a novel from 1914. Wells wrote dystopian fiction in When the Sleeper Wakes – a class-themed novel of revolt. He famously examined humanity in The Island of Doctor Moreau – a dark, dark tale of vivisection.