The First Men In The Moon (S.F. MASTERWORKS) Hardcover – 11 Jul 2013
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The classic science fiction novel rejoins the Masterworks list in an affordable hardback format and a new introduction by Lisa Tuttle.
About the Author
H.G. Wells was born in Bromley, Kent in 1866. After working as a draper's apprentice and pupil-teacher, he won a scholarship to the Normal School of Science in 1884, studying under T. H. Huxley. He was awarded a first-class honours degree in biology and resumed teaching but had to retire after a kick from an ill-natured pupil afflicted his kidneys. He worked in poverty in London as a crammer while experimenting in journalism and stories. It was with THE TIME MACHINE (1895) that he had his real breakthrough.
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The idea of going to the moon was not new even in his time in the late 19th C yet Mr Wells' brilliance lies in fleshing out the amazing journey with surprises and suspense. The introduction of Prof. James is very detailed in tracing such a theme in the long history of fiction writing. He has written extensively on Mr Wells.
The ending of the story was revised many times by the author and such revision is not reprinted here. Editorial non-intervention is thoughtful because the story is in better shape artistically.
I find this novella extremely useful, entertaining and thought-provoking. It seems to me that Mr Wells did not just concern himself with telling a good story. Actually he was more serious when he gave a very descriptive account of how the lunar inhabitants had been organized. By extension, how the earthly society should be organized or have been organized if to avert the impending doom he foresaw.
Other than the strength of the introduction, there is one more merit for this OUP edition: its improved paper quality. (its world classics printed and re-issued before 2008 with pulp paper are easily yellowed.)
This is a wonderful story featuring a mad scientist who discovers a substance that is opaque to gravity, as told from the point of view of a failed businessman. The novel pre-dates Einstein's theory of General Relativity, which removes the concept firmly out of science fiction and into the realm of fantasy.
Wells creates a fully-functional world on the Moon with an alien biology that has adapted to the conditions of the Moon. It is masterful world building. We only see a small fraction of the Selenites' civilisation during the body of the main story. Wells appends several chapters to the end of the story to tell us more about them. They are unnecessary for the narrative of the story and seem like flab at the end but we do get to appreciate the time and effort he put into creating his aliens.
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