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The First Men in the Moon is a scientific romance by the English author H. G. Wells, originally serialised in The Strand Magazine from December 1900 to August 1901 and published in hardcover in 1901,[1] who called it one of his "fantastic stories".[2] The novel tells the story of a journey to the Moon undertaken by the two protagonists, a businessman narrator, Mr. Bedford, and an eccentric scientist, Mr. Cavor. Bedford and Cavor discover that the Moon is inhabited by a sophisticated extraterrestrial civilisation of insect-like creatures they call "Selenites". Open main menu Wikipedia Search Wikipedia 5

The First Men in the MoonEdit

EditWatch this page Read in another language For other uses, see The First Men in the Moon (disambiguation). Learn moreThis article needs additional citations for verification. The First Men in the Moon is a scientific romance by the English author H. G. Wells, originally serialised in The Strand Magazine from December 1900 to August 1901 and published in hardcover in 1901,[2] who called it one of his "fantastic stories".[3] The novel tells the story of a journey to the Moon undertaken by the two protagonists, a businessman narrator, Mr. Bedford, and an eccentric scientist, Mr. Cavor. Bedford and Cavor discover that the Moon is inhabited by a sophisticated extraterrestrial civilisation of insect-like creatures they call "Selenites".

The First Men in the MoonEdit

First Men in the Moon (1901) frontispiece.jpg Frontispiece illustration Author H. G. Wells Country United Kingdom Language English Genre Science fiction Published 1901[1] (George Newnes) Media type Print (hardcover) Pages 342 OCLC 655463 Preceded by Love and Mr Lewisham Followed by The Sea Lady Contents

Plot summaryEdit

Edit The narrator is a London businessman who withdraws to the countryside to write a play, by which he hopes to alleviate his financial problems. Bedford rents a small countryside house in Lympne, in Kent, where he wants to work in peace. He is bothered every afternoon, however, at precisely the same time, by a passer-by making odd noises. After two weeks Bedford accosts the man, who proves to be a reclusive physicist named Mr. Cavor. Bedford befriends Cavor when he learns he is developing a new material, cavorite, which can negate the force of gravity.

When a sheet of cavorite is prematurely processed, it makes the air above it weightless and shoots off into space. Bedford sees in the commercial production of cavorite a possible source of "wealth enough to work any sort of social revolution we fancied; we might own and order the whole world".[4] Cavor hits upon the idea of a spherical spaceship made of "steel, lined with glass", and with sliding "windows or blinds" made of cavorite by which it can be steered, and persuades a reluctant Bedford to undertake a voyage to the Moon; Cavor is certain there is no life there.[5] On the way to the Moon, they experience weightlessness, which Bedford finds "exceedingly restful".[6] On the surface of the Moon the two men discover a desolate landscape, but as the Sun rises, the thin, frozen atmosphere vaporises and strange plants begin to grow with extraordinary rapidity. Bedford and Cavor leave the capsule, but in romping about get lost in the rapidly growing jungle. They hear for the first time a mysterious booming coming from beneath their feet. They encounter "great beasts", "monsters of mere fatness", that they dub "mooncalves", and five-foot-high "Selenites" tending them. At first they hide and crawl about, but growing hungry partake of some "monstrous coralline growths" of fungus that inebriate them. They wander drunkenly until they encounter a party of six extraterrestrials, who capture them.[7] The insectoid lunar natives (referred to as "Selenites", after Selene, the moon goddess) are part of a complex and technologically sophisticated society that lives underground, but this is revealed only in radio communications received from Cavor after Bedford's return to Earth.

Bedford and Cavor break out of captivity beneath the surface of the Moon and flee, killing several Selenites. In their flight they discover that gold is common on the Moon. In their attempt to find their way back to the surface and to their sphere, they come upon some Selenites carving up mooncalves but fight their way past. Back on the surface, they split up to search for their spaceship. Bedford finds it but returns to Earth without Cavor, who injured himself in a fall and was recaptured by the Selenites, as Bedford learns from a hastily scribbled note he left behind.

Chapter 20, "Mr. Bedford in Infinite Space", plays no role in the plot but is a remarkable set piece in which the narrator describes experiencing a quasi-mystical "pervading doubt of my own identity. . . the doubts within me could still argue: 'It is not you that is reading, it is Bedford—but you are not Bedford, you know. That's just where the mistake comes in.' 'Counfound it!' I cried, 'and if I am not Bedford, what am I? But in that direction no light was forthcoming, though the strangest fancies came drifting into my brain, queer remote suspicions like shadow seem from far away... Do you know I had an idea that really I was something quite outside not only the world, but all worlds, and out of space and time, and that this poor Bedford was just a peephole through which I looked at life..."[8]

By good fortune, the narrator lands in the sea off the coast of Britain, near the seaside town of Littlestone, not far from his point of departure. His fortune is made by some gold he brings back, but he loses the sphere when a curious boy named Tommy Simmons climbs into the unattended sphere and shoots off into space. Bedford writes and publishes his story in The Strand Magazine, then learns that "Mr. Julius Wendigee, a Dutch electrician, who has been experimenting with certain apparatus akin to the apparatus used by Mr. Tesla in America", has picked up fragments of radio communications from Cavor sent from inside the Moon. During a period of relative freedom Cavor has taught two Selenites English and learned much about lunar society.

Cavor's account explains that Selenites exist in thousands of forms and find fulfilment in carrying out the specific social function for which they have been brought up: specialisation is the essence of Selenite society. "With knowledge the Selenites grew and changed; mankind stored their knowledge about them and remained brutes—equipped," remarks the Grand Lunar, when he finally meets Cavor and hears about life on Earth.[9] Unfortunately, Cavor reveals humanity's propensity for war; the lunar leader and those listening to the interview are "stricken with amazement". Bedford infers that it is for this reason that Cavor has been prevented from further broadcasting to Earth. Cavor's transmissions are cut off as he is trying to describe how to make cavorite. His final fate is unknown, but Bedford is sure that "we shall never… receive another message from the moon".[10]

C.S LewisEdit

Influence on C. S. Lewis Edit C. S. Lewis explicitly stated that his science fiction books were both inspired by and written as an antithesis to those of H. G. Wells. Specifically, he acknowledged The First Men in The Moon to be "the best of the sort [of science fiction] I have read...." (from a letter to Roger Lancelyn Green).

The influence of Wells's book is especially visible in Out of the Silent Planet, the first book of Lewis's Space Trilogy. There, too, a central role in the story line is played by a partnership between a worldly businessman interested in the material gains from space travel (and specifically, in importing extraterrestrial gold to Earth) and a scientist with wider cosmic theories.

Also in Lewis's book, the two quietly build themselves a spaceship in the seclusion of an English country house, and take off into space without being noticed by the rest of the world. (It may be noted that both Wells and Lewis, like virtually all science fiction writers until the 1950s, grossly underestimated the resources needed for even the smallest jaunt outside Earth's gravitational field.) Like Wells's book, Lewis's reaches its climax with the Earth scientist speaking to the wise ruler of an alien world (in this case Oyarsa, the ruler of Malacandra/Mars) and blurting out the warlike and predatory nature of humanity.

However, in Lewis's book the businessman-scientist pair are the villains of the piece. Moreover, his scientist, Professor Weston, has a philosophy diametrically opposite to Cavor's, being an outspoken proponent of human colonisation of other planets, up to and including extermination of "primitive natives".[11]

Other influences, references and adaptationsEdit

Edit Learn moreThis section needs additional citations for verification. Brian Stableford argues this is the first alien dystopia.[12] The book could also be considered to have launched the science fiction subgenre depicting intelligent social insects, in some cases a non-human species such as the space-traveling Shaara "bees" in the future universe of A. Bertram Chandler, in others (such as Frank Herbert's Hellstrom's Hive) humans who evolved or consciously engineered their society in this direction. Nigel Kneale co-adapted the screenplay (with Jan Read) for the 1964 film version; it is reasonable to assume that Kneale's familiarity with the work may have inspired the idea of the Martian hives which feature so significantly in Quatermass and the Pit, one of Kneale's most-admired creations.[original research?]

In the 1925 novel Menace from the Moon, by English writer Bohun Lynch, a lunar colony, founded 1654 by a Dutchman, an Englishman, an Italian, and "their women", threatens Earth with heat-ray doom unless it helps them escape their dying world. Cavorite was featured as a major plot device in the 1999 first volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Cavor (given the first name of Selwyn) also appears in the volume and is mentioned in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier. In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume III: Century, the Selenites are featured as enemies of the nude lunar Amazons. Cavorite also is used as a minor plot device in Warehouse 13, with its gravity blocking properties used by Wells to make a trap. Cavorite and Cavor also play a major role in the end of Scarlet Traces: The Great Game, with the Selenites also briefly depicted. The video game Voyage: Inspired by Jules Verne was based both on Wells's The First Men in the Moon, along with Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon. Cavorite, Cavor, and the Selenites are a large factor in The Martian War, where Cavor's ship takes Wells, his wife, and T.H. Huxley first to the Moon, then to Mars. In the story, the Selenites have been enslaved by the Martians, used as food creatures and slaves to build the canals and invasion fleet. In the short story "Moon Ants" by Zinaida Gippius, the narrator is attempting to understand the reason for a sharp increase of local suicides and for the suicide mindset in general. At one point he recollects Wells's novel and eventually decides that mankind, or just Russia in general, has become much like the Selenites in its decadent, self-destructive culture. Like the Selenites, man is seemingly tough on the outside but easily knocked aside, to crumple up and die, by the rigors of life. The events of The First Men in the Moon are used as the precursor to the player's adventure in Larry Niven and Steven Barnes' "Dream Park" series adventure novel, The Moon Maze Game, which describes a fantasy role playing game being played on (and televised from) a crater and tunnels on the moon. An antigravity material called "cavorite" also appears in Vernor Vinge's novel A Deepness in the Sky. A substance similar to cavorite (called gravitar) is used in Space: 1889 & Beyond, which also features a character called Rear Admiral Herbert Cavor and the indigenous population of Luna are called Selenites (the name being derived from the same source material mentioned in The First Men in the Moon). This series also features a character called Commander George Bedford. According to author Andy Frankham-Allen (who also developed the series) this was all a very intentional reference to the works of HG Wells, with the main protagonist, Professor Nathanial Stone, a direct reference to Parson Nathaniel from Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds; Nathanial Stone's father is a reverend. Cavorite also lent its name to an alien material in Robert Buettner's Jason Wanderer/Orphan's Legacy novels, with the material being named after H.G. Wells' cavorite due the similar properties. Cavorite again shows up (with similar properties) in the Japanese anime Princess Principal, set in an alternate history fin de siècle steampunk Britain.

Film adaptationsEdit

Edit The First Men in the Moon has been adapted to film four times, and once prior to that as a mash-up Verne-Wells film:

A Trip to the Moon (1902) was released one year after the publication of Wells's source material. It incorporated two of Jules Verne's novels (From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon) while the adventures on the Moon were taken from Wells's book.[13] The first adaptation was made in 1919; the first film made from a science fiction novel.[14] The second adaptation was made in 1964. In this version, the men wear diving suits as spacesuits, which they did not in the original novel. The third adaptation was made for TV in 2010; this is the version most faithful to the novel. The fourth adaptation, in 3D, by David Rosler, was in production from 2009 to 2010.[15]

CriticismEdit

Edit Soon after the publication of The First Men in the Moon, Wells was accused by the Irish writer Robert Cromie of having stolen from his novel A Plunge into Space (1890), which used an antigravity device similar to that in Chrysostom Trueman's The History of a Voyage to the Moon (1864).[16] Both novels had certain elements in common, such as a globular spaceship built in secret after inventing a way to overcome Earth's gravity. Wells simply replied: "I have never heard of Mr Cromie nor of the book he attempts to advertise by insinuations of plagiarism on my part."[17]

Jules Verne was publicly hostile to Wells's novel mainly due to Wells having his characters go to the moon via a totally fictional creation of an anti-gravitational material rather than the actual use of technology.[18]

Influence on Edgar Rice BurroughsEdit

Edit Obviously,Edgar Rice Burrough was influenced by the First Men in the Moon.Some of At the Earth's Core (novel) read similar,even if the subject matter is about David Innes and Professor Abner Perry travelling into the center of the Earth and not to the moon.Also The Moon Maid more was influenced by First Men in the Moon.

See alsoEdit

Edit Apergy Apollo 8 Apollo 11 Moon in fiction Moon landings in fiction 1901 in science fiction References Edit About

Books & BootsEdit

reflections on books and art The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells (1901) This is the seventh of Wells’s classic science fiction novels. He had also, by 1901, written over 60 science fiction short stories. Single-handedly he had created a new genre for the English-speaking world, which was quickly taken up and copied.

It wasn’t just that he wrote a lot, it’s that the early books each tackled, described, thought through and realistically presented some of the founding tropes of science fiction – time travel and attack by aliens from another world, being the two outstanding ones – which have been recycled thousands of times since.

The First Men in the Moon is not quite in the same league because it didn’t invent the topic of travelling to the moon – Jules Vernes had written a novel on the same theme thirty years earlier (From the Earth to the Moon, 1865) and in fact a number of fantasies and romances on the subject had been written for centuries (including the version by the 17th century writer Cyrano de Bergerac whose illustrations by Quentin Blake I recently reviewed – Voyages to the Moon and the Sun, based on the Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon, 1657).

Also, the scientific basis of the story – the mechanism by which the protagonists get to the moon – using some kind of anti-gravity metal – the way it’s discovered and handled, isn’t as persuasive as some of the earlier fantasies. Nonetheless, the story is still compelling because of the thoroughness with which Wells thinks through the practical details – and then because of the avalanche of astounding discoveries which his heroes make once they’ve arrived on the moon, and which keeps the reader on the edge of their seat.

Amateur hour As usual in Wells, the whole thing is invented by an inspired amateur – the notion of government-sponsored scientific research being still decades away, pioneered by the Manhattan project of the 1940s.

Instead the story is narrated in the first person by a rather disreputable bankrupt, Mr Bedford, who retreats to a bungalow on the Kent coast where he hopes to scribble a best-selling play in order to make a quick buck, but gets into conversation with an eccentric neighbour, Cavor, and gets drawn into the latter’s scientific experiments.

The ‘scientific’ basis is simple, or simple-minded, enough. Cavor points out that we now know the universe is full of rays and waves that act at a distance – light rays, x-rays, electricity and gravity. And we know of materials which block some of these rays – light and electricity and x-rays. So why can’t we create something which blocks the effect of gravity?

Bedford immediately sees the vast amounts of money to be made from such a material in a hundred and one commercial applications:

An extraordinary possibility came rushing into my mind. Suddenly I saw, as in a vision, the whole solar system threaded with Cavorite liners and spheres de luxe. (p.27)

So Bedford persuades the rather other-worldly Cavor to take him on as a ‘partner’, and becomes a regular visitor to the latter’s house down the hill (incidentally observing the comic rivalry of the three working class labourers Cavor has working in his various workshops).

An enormous explosion and then a terrific hurricane announce to the narrator that Cavor has indeed succeeded in making the new material. it happened by fluke, when a substance they’d been working on was left to cool and crystallised into the material they now decide to christen ‘cavorite’. (It all takes place on 14 October 1899, as Bedford faithfully records.)

What caused the hurricane is that, as soon as it came into existence, the cavorite blocked the earth’s gravitational pull from working on the air above it. This meant that that air – which normally presses downwards at a pressure of 14 pounds per square inch – ceased doing so, and instead floated freely upwards. This created a column of ’empty air’ directly about the square of cavorite. Into this gravity-less tube rushed all the surrounding air which, on finding itself also liberated from the earth’s gravity, also lost its downward weight and was itself forced upwards by the rest of the surrounding air rushing in. And so on and so on. In a split second the pull of pressurised air into the column of unweighted air created a huge inrush of air from the surroundings, in which everything which was not tied down was immediately dragged towards it at tremendous force.

For the few moments that this happened all the air in the neighbourhood was sucked into the gravity-free tube – which explains the sudden hurricane Cavor and Bedford felt. But then they themselves saw the little sheet of cavorite itself get sucked up by the empty vortex and they both watched it soar up through the column, up, up and – presumably – right out of the earth’s atmosphere… at which point everything returned to normal. ‘By Jove, old chap.’

Bedford and Cavor look at each other. This thing could escape the earth’s atmosphere. It could fulfil man’s oldest dream of leaving earth. But how to steer or control it? Cavor goes off pondering and the next day has come up with a solution: encase the cavorite in steel plates which mask its anti-gravity effect, and only open the plates facing in a certain direction when you want the anti-gravity cavorite to work in that direction.

(You can see why Wells has his narrator, Bedford, continually lament that he didn’t keep notes, didn’t make a record of the process by which cavorite was made, didn’t follow all of Cavor’s abstruse thinking and so on. This is because Well’s idea doesn’t really make practical sense.)

So the pair construct a sphere, with an inner layer made of glass, then covered in warm cavorite paste, then steel divided into plates. (In fact it’s less a sphere than a polyhedron made of flat plates. And the plates are more, in fact, like ‘blinds’ which can be opened and closed. I’ve always found this quite hard to visualise.) Once everything is in place they heat the cavorite paste to securely bind it to the ‘sphere’ and then, as it cools, it assumes the magical properties and – whoosh!

Illustration for The First Men In the Moon by E. Herring (1901) Illustration for The First Men In the Moon by E. Hering (1901)

The idea is that to steer the sphere you open a plate in the direction you want gravity to cease working and are repelled away from any nearby object (the earth or moon or sun) which would ordinarily exert the attractive power of gravity. Once in space, close the plates and you’ll be pulled towards the nearest big object. Like the moon.

Bedford climbs into the sphere and Cavor shows him how he’s furnished it – the blankets, some frozen oxygen in cylinders, some food, an electric light and some carbolic acid device to get rid of the carbon dioxide they inhale. But while Bedford is still pondering whether he wants to go, Cavor opens the earthside shutters, the cavorite works and whoosh! they are flying towards the moon.

Wells’s story races at top speed to prevent you from realising what tosh it is, and to enchant you in his narrative spell. Wonder follows wonder. First of all there is weightlessness. Maybe earlier writers had realised that we would be weightless in space but Wells gives a very accurate prophecy of what it feels like, the tingling in the blood and the way everything inside the sphere floats around bumping into everything else.

It was the strangest sensation conceivable, floating thus loosely in space, at first indeed horribly strange, and when the horror passed, not disagreeable at all, exceeding restful; indeed, the nearest thing in earthly experience to it that I know is lying on a very thick, soft feather bed. But the quality of utter detachment and independence! I had not reckoned on things like this. I had expected a violent jerk at starting, a giddy sense of speed. Instead I felt – as if I were disembodied. It was not like the beginning of a journey; it was like the beginning of a dream.

They open some of the plates to see where they’re headed and a) are dazzled by the brightness of the sun and b) looking the other direction, are stunned by the profusion of stars, millions more than you can see through earth’s atmosphere.

Cavor makes last-minute adjustments and they come to land in a vast crater on the moon. Here the reader is bombarded with vivid impressions. It is dark and the ground is covered in soft white stuff which they only slowly realise is not dust but frozen atmosphere. They have arrived just at sunrise over the crater and are astonished to watch the frozen white stuff all around them melt and then evaporate, to form an atmosphere, tingeing the sky blue.

Is it breathable? Cavor performs the ludicrously amateur experiment of opening the manhole which they use to get in and out of the capsule and discovers that – yes, it is thinner than earth’s but the moon’s atmosphere turns out to be perfectly breathable. (No ill effects from sunlight, radiation, burning, toxic gases, nothing! Convenient, eh?)

They climb outside and are astounded to watch small pebbles shiver, pop, put out roots, and then stalks. They are plants and shrubs and strange tree-sized flora, which grows even as they watch. Of course. The moon’s ‘year’ – the length of time it takes the sun to rise and set over the lunar surface – only lasts for 14 earth days. In that fortnight, life forms have to spring, grow, mature, produce their own seed, and decline.

But the thing they are most enraptured with is the low gravity. Only a sixth of the earth’s. Off they go springing and bounding in giant leaps amid the surreally growing and blossoming fruits of the moon. Until – oops – they both realise they have forgotten where the sphere was and, looking back, see only an immense rustling growing forest of moon flora.

And it is then that they hear an ominous boom boom boom noise from beneath the surface and a grinding as of great gates opening. Not long afterwards they see the first of the Selenites herding a vast slug-like creature with tiny closed eyes and a horrid red mouth which is slurping and munching its way through the foliage, like a farmer herding a monstrous cow.

Illustration for The First Men In the Moon by E. Herring (1901) Illustration for The First Men In the Moon by E. Herring (1901)

Amazement Wells’s aim is to amaze, stun, astonish and astound. The basic, foundational trope of a visit to a strange land is reminiscent of any number of late-Victorian yarns – Vernes’ Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864), Rider Haggard’s journeys to darkest Africa (She, 1886), or Conan Doyle’s Professor Challenger trip to a Lost World (1912) in the remotest Amazon.

But science fiction has the advantage over mere adventure stories in that it can make things up purely to astound, astonish, shock, disgust and amaze the reader.

Because the text is available online, it is searchable, and so I searched and counted no fewer than 415 exclamation marks, as the characters, and the author, continually signal their amazement at their astounding discoveries!!!

Then, for fun, I searched all the instances of the word ‘amazing’.

It comes to me with a certain quality of astonishment that my participation in these amazing adventures of Mr. Cavor was, after all, the outcome of the purest accident.

[Cavor’s workshop] looked like business from cellar to attic – an amazing little place to find in an out-of-the-way village

It was an amazing piece of reasoning. Much as it amazed and exercised me at the time.

And then, sudden, swift, and amazing, came the lunar day.

With a steady assurance, a swift deliberation, these amazing seeds thrust a rootlet downward to the earth and a queer little bundle-like bud into the air.

Cavor panted something about ‘amazing sensations’.

What the Selenites made of this amazing, and to my mind undignified irruption from another planet, I have no means of guessing.

Amazing little corner in the universe – the landing place of men!

… returning after amazing adventures to this world of ours.

There were several amazing forms, with heads reduced to microscopic proportions and blobby bodies.

Amazing and incredible as it may seem, these two creatures, these fantastic men insects, these beings of other world, were presently communicating with Cavor by means of terrestrial speech.

The dictionary definition of to amaze is ‘to cause someone to be extremely surprised’. Synonyms for ‘amaze’ give a sense of the goal of Well’s fantasies (and of the thousands of pulp sci-fi writers who followed him). it is to:

astonish, astound, surprise, bewilder, stun, stagger, flabbergast, nonplus, shock, startle, shake, stop someone in their tracks, stupefy, leave open-mouthed, leave aghast, take someone’s breath away, dumbfound, daze, benumb, perplex, confound, dismay, disconcert, shatter, take aback, jolt, shake up

Taken prisoner Back in the story our heroes sneak away from the ghastly apparition of the Selenite and realise they are hungry. Not having any provisions from the sphere they are driven by desperation to nibble one of the growing lunar ‘trees’ and Wells gives quite a humorous account of the way that the ‘food’ does them no harm but makes them both very drunk. Through their drunken bickering they are aware of Selenites surrounding them and of some kind of struggle, then it all goes dark.

They wake up with hangovers in a dark cell in handcuffs and shackles. One or two individual Selenites come to see them before they are raised to their feet and led by a posse of Selenites, some of whom are carrying the sharp spiked goads they’d seen one using on get the big fat mooncalf earlier. Our heroes are fascinated and disgusted at the Selenites’ appearance, a kind of giant ant. The shapes of their heads appear to vary, indicating different brain size and probably advanced specialisation of job or function in what they come to realise is the complex Selenite civilisation.

They are taken through caverns measureless to man, past enormous machinery which appears to be pumping out some kind of liquid which glows blue and provides illumination here. Cavor speculates wildly that there may be a whole civilisation here, under the surface of the moon. Maybe networks of caverns descending via tunnels down to some inner sea. Scooped out and developed over thousands of years.

When they come to a narrow plank going out over what appears to be a vast bottomless pit, Bedford rebels. One of the Selenites goads him with the spiky implement and he sees red. He punches the Selenite and is astonished to watch his fist go right through its head and out the other side. They are clearly far less sturdy and strongly made than humans. Before he knows it he is attacking all of them and then grabbing Cavor to make a getaway.

This is actually the turning point of the book, because the rest of the main narrative describes their panic-stricken escape back to the surface of the moon. It is a chase narrative. As you might imagine, it involves climbing up clefts and stumbling into vast caverns and a lot more fighting, with the unpleasant discovery that the Selenites have a sort of crossbow which fires spears.

Nonetheless, triumphing over all these perils our heroes finally blunder out into a huge circular shaft with spiral steps running up along the wall (the kind of thing we’ve all seen in sci-fi and fantasy movies) leading up to the surface. Up it they run, emerging into the lip of a ‘crater’ – and they now understand that the moon’s ‘craters’ are in fact an immense network of circular ‘lids’ which can be retracted to reveal the labyrinth of tunnels created by Selenite civilisation and which allow the Selenites to emerge onto the surface to farm their herds of moon cows.

The sun is visibly waning: some 14 days have passed underground though they haven’t noticed, and is now threatening to set with all that entails in terms of losing the breathable atmosphere. Where is the sphere?

Afflicted by despair as they survey the vast area of lunar foliage, now visibly browning and declining, they pin a handkerchief to a nearby bush and set off to explore in opposite directions, taking vast moon leaps as they go.

Nearing exhaustion and plagued by fear that search parties of very angry Selenites will be out after them, Bedford is on the brink of giving up when he is momentarily dazzled by a shaft of light and realises it is sunlight reflecting off a panel of the sphere. Weeping with relief he bounds over and confirms it’s true. But what of Cavor? He leaps to a nearby peak and shouts Cavor’s name but – as Wells had pointed out from the first (in the kind of scientifically accurate detail which are such a joy of these stories) moon air is a lot thinner than earth air and so sound doesn’t carry very well: even when they’re shouting at each other it sounds like they’re whispering.

He can see the hankie in a bush a few miles away and so leaps over towards it. Here he yells Cavor’s name again, then looks down and sees an archetypal adventure story sight: broken bushes, churned-up soil, all the signs of a struggle. Going down he finds a scrap of paper in which Cavor has hurriedly written that he’s hurt his knee in landing awkwardly in a ditch and can hear the Selenites closing in, any moment they’re going to come, oh my God –

And here his message breaks off and the paper is marked by… a red liquid. Blood!!!!

The Selenites have got him. The crater is closed. All entrance to the interior is blocked off. The sun has almost set. Bedford realises he must save himself. I found his flight back the sphere quite gripping. Wells convincingly describes the sudden drop in temperature as the sun declines, the air grows thin and cold and then the first snowflakes will fall. The temperature will ultimately drop to Absolute Zero and Bedford will freeze to death unless he can make it to the sphere in time. At last he is there. Crawling on hands and knees. Barely strength to reach up to the manhole, Twists. Can’t do it. Twists again. Pulls himself up and is… inside!

An exhausted Bedford just about makes it back to the sphere as snow falls, illustration for The First Men In The Moon by Claude Allin Shepperson An exhausted Bedford just about makes it back to the sphere as snow falls, illustration for The First Men In The Moon by Claude Allin Shepperson

Food. Blanket. Warmth. Recovery. Sleep. Wakes rejuvenated. Grasps the grim reality of his situation. Opens the cavorite plates. Silently flies into space. More by luck than judgement he steers a course back to earth.

In an outcome so ludicrous it is like a pantomime, he not only lands back on earth, but he lands back on the south coast of England, barely a few miles from where they took off. On the sea, but conveniently close to a beach which he is then washed up on. Some jolly English chaps are coming down for their morning swim. ‘Crikey, old chap, you look a bit peaky let us take you up to the old hotel.’

Here he tucks into bacon and eggs and is drinking coffee when there’s an explosion and bewilderment outside the door. Some young lad had been hanging round as the chaps took dirty, dishevelled Bedford up to their hotel. He’d looked a bit shifty. The young wretch must have gone back to the sphere, climbed in and opened a plate, making it lift off. Damn and blast! There go Bedford’s dreams of setting up an interplanetary travel agency.

But he still has the gold. Did I mention the gold? Amid their adventures Bedford had realised that the shackles and manacles the Selenites had bound them with were made of gold. He had grabbed a couple of tyre lever-sized gold rods during their breakout. In fact he’d found them handy for fighting their way through the Selenites.

At least he still has them. He is rich.

A coda from Cavor Wells could have stopped his tale there. Instead, there is a coda which takes up a surprising amount of space, pages 150 to 186 in the Everyman paperback edition.

To the outrage of all common sense, a Dutch electrician and early radio ham, picks up radio messages… from the moon! Yes, Cavor was captured, as Bedford had described: but his captors were kind to him, and, once he’d recovered, they took him on a Cook’s Tour of their vast civilisation. Part of this was learning that there was an apparently infinite variety of types of Selenites and soon Cavor was being introduced to the brainy ones: he could tell they were brainy, because they had very big heads! Big heads and thin skins so he could actually see the brain matter pulsating as they thought their deep thoughts.

Turns out that some of the Selenites are specialists in language and set about teaching Cavor who quickly catches on and starts to teach them English. Thus, within a few weeks, Cavor is communicating with the Selenites who explain how their society works, confirm that the moon is a swiss cheese of underground caverns and passages, that the phosphorescent liquid and much else is produced by immense machinery, that at the centre of the moon there is indeed a vast and tempestuous sea – and much more besides.

These visions of an alien civilisation, as so often, develop a strong flavour of being social criticism of the author’s own civilisation. Cavor discovers that the Selenites breed all the different types of workers in the equivalent of test tubes, distorting all aspects of their bodies and brains to suit them to the work they’re destined for. (Anticipating Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World by 30 years).

Harsh? Yes, he is a bit disgusted by it and especially by one particular sight of an embryonic Selenite having its forelimbs artificially lengthened to do manual work, but – and here is the Author’s Message –

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.

On another occasion his guides – the preposterously named Phi-oo and Tsi-puff – bring him to a great field of mushrooms being grown for food, where they find all the workers drugged and fast asleep, until they are needed for the harvest when they’ll be woken. Again, the character Cavor becomes a mouthpiece for the Fabian Socialist H.G. Wells:

To drug the worker one does not want and toss him aside is surely far better than to expel him from his factory to wander starving in the streets

Cavor’s tour climaxes with a presentation to the Grand Lunar, Master of the Moon – at which point the book definitely feels more like a lampoon or a parody than a ‘serious’ fantasy, a kind of ludicrous Wizard of Oz vibe.

Except that here it also reaches a kind of height of teenage socialism. Cavor radios back to earth a lengthy version of his interview with the Grand Lunar which begins with harmless stuff about the structure of the earth, why we live on the surface and not underneath like the Selenites, what weather is like in a place with 12 hour days, and so on. Little by little Cavor describes human civilisation, cities and factories and trains, how we do not breed different types of human to perform different tasks, not yet anyway.

But, when asked whether there is a Grand Earthly as there is a Grand Lunar, he finds himself having to explain the idea of ‘nations’ and ’empires’ and, before he realises it, is describing ‘war’. His brutal description of this absurd folly fills the Grand Lunar and the huge entourage of Selenites listening to Cavor’s account with horror.

Yes, wars in which men flock to the flag, train and arm and proudly wear uniforms, before clashing in huge armies designed solely to kill as many of the opponents as possible. As he proceeds, Cavor notes the moans of disappointment and disillusion rising from the crowd and the ‘expression’ on what passes for the Grand Lunar’s face.

Cover of Amazing Histories magazine, featuring an illustration of Cavor addressing the Great Lunar Cover of Amazing Histories magazine, featuring an illustration of Cavor addressing the Great Lunar

A week later comes the final broadcast we are ever to hear from Cavor. It is a panic-stricken sentence, ‘I was mad to let the Grand Lunar know – ‘… and then a few words attempting to convey the secret of cavorite. Then silence.

Bedford imagines the dismay Cavor’s revelation about the true nature of human beings must have caused among the Selenites, and how the mood turned against Cavor, and how the moon people then realised that he was broadcasting messages to his violent brethren back on earth, with the risk that these psychopaths might return in one of these ‘armies’ and conquer the Selenites.

Gulliver When I read this as a teenager I was awed by Wells’s profound insight into human nature. Now it reminds me of Gulliver’s Travels, in which the hero also describes human behaviour to the peace-loving King of Brobdingnag, who replies, accurately enough:

‘I cannot but conclude the Bulk of your Natives, to be the most pernicious Race of little odious Vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the Surface of the Earth.’

True or not, the point is that, bolted on to the science fantasy, this coda reads very much like a variation on the time-honoured satire on contemporary civilisation and, by extension, of human nature, which goes back before Swift to Thomas More’s Utopia and before that to any number of Roman and Greek authors.

Commentary There are three obvious features about a Wells novel like this, what he called his ‘fantasy novels’:

1. Fast It’s fast-moving. Bedford has bumped into Cavor, built the sphere, gone to the moon, watched the desert bloom, been captured and taken below, escaped and fought his way to the surface, found the sphere and escaped, crash-landed on earth and had a hearty breakfast, all in a mere 150 pages (in the Everyman paperback edition I read).

2. Fantastic The speed prevents you noticing its preposterousness. It’s so fast-moving you don’t notice how quickly you leave the world of Edwardian England, with its pubs and evening strolls along the Downs, completely behind. It only requires ten or so pages from Bedford meeting Cavor, to him thoroughly involving him in his theoretical speculations, and then – whoosh! they’re off to the moon.

It is fast-moving because it is, in a sense, pulp. Only by moving fast from one astounding moment to the next can it stop you pausing to reflect and thus breaking the spell.

3. Mundanity But, contradicting a little what I’ve said above, just as important as the speed and fantasy, is its air of mundaneness and normality.

I think it was Tom Shippey in his book about Lord of the Rings who explained that what made the book such a success was the invention of the hobbits. Tolkien had been working on his private-world mythology for decades, inventing languages and complex histories for his elves and dwarves and so on, and had produced quite a few texts narrating whole eras in his legendary Middle Earth. But they were boring and flat.

It was the invention of the down-to-earth, small, beer-drinking, pipe-smoking, no-nonsense, common-sensical hobbits which gave him a vehicle to take the reader into his world. We are introduced to the hobbits first and thoroughly identify with their idealised pastoral English life – before the first hints of other-worldly menace ever appear.

This explains why Lord of the Rings is regularly voted the greatest novel of the 20th century, while I’ve never met anyone who managed to complete The Silmarillion, another of Tolkien’s epics, describing a different era in Middle Earth’s history, but which lacks hobbits and, therefore, all charm and – crucially – representatives of the ordinary reader; imaginative vectors allowing us to enter into his imaginative world.

It’s an overlooked element of Wells that his best books also require this dichotomy – the interlocking of two opposites, the fantastic and the mundane.

We all know about the fantastical in his books, for example the idea that Martians launch an attack on earth or a man invents a time machine and travels to the distant future. Those are certainly the ideas at the core of the books. But when you actually read the texts what comes across almost as powerfully is the very mundane details of the places where this all happens – that the Martians land in Dorking and head towards London across the humdrum landscape of Surrey, blasting well known landmarks on their way (which is why there is a striking sculpture of a ‘Martian’ in Dorking town centre).

Wells himself was well aware of doing this:

For the writer of fantastic stories to help the reader play the game properly he must help him, in every possible unobtrusive way, to domesticate the impossible hypothesis. (Quoted in the critical afterword to the Everyman edition)

And one mark of this is the way the people who witness and generally write up the narratives are always very ordinary, everyday chaps, who are often a bit confused, puzzled, don’t quite follow what’s going on, miss important details, don’t quite follow the scientific whatchamacallit, and, in their bumbling innocence, stand in as a kind of stylised representative of the innocent reader.

They are all Dr Watsons to a succession of fierce, eccentric or visionary Holmeses, respectively:

1895 The Time Machine – first person unnamed narrator 1896 The Island of Doctor Moreau – first person narrative by shipwrecked sailor Edward Prendick 1897 The Invisible Man – (third person narrator) 1898 The War of the Worlds – first person unnamed narrator 1899 When the Sleeper Wakes – Graham, the eponymous sleeper 1901 The First Men in the Moon – first person narrative by Mr Bedford 1904 The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth – third person narrative 1906 In The Days of the Comet – unnamed first person narrator 1908 The War in the Air – featuring Bert and Tom Smallways 1914 The World Set Free – third person narrator Making this list shows that this isn’t exactly a hard-and-fast rule, but that most of the most effective fantasies are told in the first person by someone undergoing the adventure themselves.

It goes some way to explaining why of the early stories The Invisible Man stands out as particularly unlikeable and negative: it is one of the few not told by a more or less reasonable chap, who we’re meant to identify with.

As a footnote, this helps explain the presence of the three working class men who Cavor employs in his lab, in the earlier pages of the book. They are each jealous of each other’s specialisms, argue and often down tools to go off to the pub and argue some more and so perform the function of the rude mechanicals in Shakespeare, offering comic interludes but also throwing into relief the more serious activities of their middle class superiors. Anchoring them to a humorous everyday reality.

This also explains why Bedford, at an early stage, after he’s had an argument with Cavor, goes off for an epic walk across Kent, enjoying the countryside, stopping for lunch in a pub, chatting with the local yokels while he puffs on his pipe. All designed to embed the wild fantasy in a comfortable, relaxing coat of verisimilitude.

Related links The First Men in the Moon on Amazon The First Men in the Moon online Other H.G. Wells reviews 1895 The Time Machine – the unnamed inventor and time traveller tells his dinner party guests the story of his adventure among the Eloi and the Morlocks in the year 802,701 1896 The Island of Doctor Moreau – Edward Prendick is stranded on a remote island where he discovers the ‘owner’, Dr Gustave Moreau, is experimentally creating human-animal hybrids 1897 The Invisible Man – an embittered young scientist, Griffin, makes himself invisible, starting with comic capers in a Sussex village, and ending with demented murders 1898 The War of the Worlds – the Martians invade earth 1899 When The Sleeper Wakes/The Sleeper Wakes – Graham awakes in the year 2100 to find himself at the centre of a revolution to overthrow the repressive society of the future 1899 A Story of the Days To Come – set in the same London of the future described in The Sleeper Wakes, Denton and Elizabeth fall in love but descend into poverty, and experience life as serfs in the Underground city run by the sinister Labour Corps

1901 The First Men in the Moon – Mr Bedford and Mr Cavor use the invention of ‘Cavorite’ to fly to the moon and discover the underground civilisation of the Selenites 1904 The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth – two scientists invent a compound which makes plants, animals and humans grow to giant size, leading to a giants’ rebellion against the ‘little people’ 1906 In the Days of the Comet – a passing comet trails gasses through earth’s atmosphere which bring about ‘the Great Change’, inaugurating an era of wisdom and fairness, as told by narrator Willie Leadford 1908 The War in the Air – Bert Smallways, a bicycle-repairman from Bun Hill in Kent, manages by accident to be an eye-witness to the outbreak of the war in the air which brings Western civilisation to an end

1914 The World Set Free – A history of the future in which the devastation of an atomic war leads to the creation of a World Government, told via a number of characters who are central to the change

Other science fiction reviews 1888 Looking Backward 2000-1887 by Edward Bellamy – Julian West wakes up in the year 2000 to discover a peaceful revolution has ushered in a society of state planning, equality and contentment 1890 News from Nowhere by William Morris – waking from a long sleep, William Guest is shown round a London transformed into villages of contented craftsmen

1905 With the Night Mail by Rudyard Kipling – it is 2000 and the narrator accompanies a GPO airship across the Atlantic 1909 The Machine Stops by E.M. Foster – people of the future live in underground cells regulated by ‘the Machine’ until one of them rebels

1912 The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Professor Challenger leads an expedition to a plateau in the Amazon rainforest where prehistoric animals still exist 1912 As Easy as ABC by Rudyard Kipling – set in 2065 in a world characterised by isolation and privacy, forces from the ABC are sent to suppress an outbreak of ‘crowdism’ 1913 The Horror of the Heights by Arthur Conan Doyle – airman Captain Joyce-Armstrong flies higher than anyone before him and discovers the upper atmosphere is inhabited by vast jellyfish-like monsters 1918 The Land That Time Forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs – a trilogy of pulp novellas in which all-American heroes battle ape-men and dinosaurs on a lost island in the Antarctic

1921 We by Evgeny Zamyatin – like everyone else in the dystopian future of OneState, D-503 lives life according to the Table of Hours until I-330 wakens him to the truth 1927 The Maracot Deep by Arthur Conan Doyle – a scientist, engineer and a hero are trying out a new bathysphere when the wire snaps and they hurtle to the bottom of the sea, there to discover…

1932 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

1949 Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell – after a nuclear war, inhabitants of ruined London are divided into the sheep-like ‘proles’ and members of the Party who are kept under unremitting surveillance

1971 Mutant 59: The Plastic Eater by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis – a genetically engineered bacterium starts eating the world’s plastic

1980 Russian Hide and Seek by Kingsley Amis – in an England of the future which has been invaded and conquered by the Russians, a hopeless attempt to overthrow the occupiers is easily crushed

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Related The Golden Age of Science Fiction edited by Kingsley Amis (1981) In "Books" 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke (1968) In "Adventure" Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut (1979) In "America" 1 COMMENT by SIMON on SEPTEMBER 17, 2018 • PERMALINK Posted in BOOKS, FANTASY, NOVEL, SCIENCE FICTION Tagged 1901, ALDOUS HUXLEY, ALIENS, BRAVE NEW WORLD, CAVORITE, CLAUDE ALLIN SHEPPERSON, CONAN DOYLE, CYRANO DE BERGERAC, DORKING, E. HERING, FABIAN SOCIETY, GRAND LUNAR, GULLIVER'S TRAVELS, H.G. WELLS, JONATHAN SWIFT, JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EART, KENT COAST, KING OF BROBDINGNAG, LORD OF THE RINGS, MR BEDFORD, MR CAVOR, NOVEL, PHI-OO, PROFESSOR CHALLENGER, QUENTIN BLAKE, RIDER HAGGARD, SCIENCE FANTASY, SCIENCE FICTION, SELENITE, SOCIALISM, SPACE TRAVEL, THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON, THE LOST WORLD, THE SILMARILLION, THOMAS MORE, TOM SHIPPEY, TSI-PUFF, UTOPIA Previous Post Sagittarius Rising by Cecil Lewis (1936)Next Post Looking Backward 2000-1887 by Edward Bellamy (1888) Leave a comment 1 Comment

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Books & Boots reflections on books and art The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells (1901) This is the seventh of Wells’s classic science fiction novels. He had also, by 1901, written over 60 science fiction short stories. Single-handedly he had created a new genre for the English-speaking world, which was quickly taken up and copied.

It wasn’t just that he wrote a lot, it’s that the early books each tackled, described, thought through and realistically presented some of the founding tropes of science fiction – time travel and attack by aliens from another world, being the two outstanding ones – which have been recycled thousands of times since.

The First Men in the Moon is not quite in the same league because it didn’t invent the topic of travelling to the moon – Jules Vernes had written a novel on the same theme thirty years earlier (From the Earth to the Moon, 1865) and in fact a number of fantasies and romances on the subject had been written for centuries (including the version by the 17th century writer Cyrano de Bergerac whose illustrations by Quentin Blake I recently reviewed – Voyages to the Moon and the Sun, based on the Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon, 1657).

Also, the scientific basis of the story – the mechanism by which the protagonists get to the moon – using some kind of anti-gravity metal – the way it’s discovered and handled, isn’t as persuasive as some of the earlier fantasies. Nonetheless, the story is still compelling because of the thoroughness with which Wells thinks through the practical details – and then because of the avalanche of astounding discoveries which his heroes make once they’ve arrived on the moon, and which keeps the reader on the edge of their seat.

Amateur hour As usual in Wells, the whole thing is invented by an inspired amateur – the notion of government-sponsored scientific research being still decades away, pioneered by the Manhattan project of the 1940s.

Instead the story is narrated in the first person by a rather disreputable bankrupt, Mr Bedford, who retreats to a bungalow on the Kent coast where he hopes to scribble a best-selling play in order to make a quick buck, but gets into conversation with an eccentric neighbour, Cavor, and gets drawn into the latter’s scientific experiments.

The ‘scientific’ basis is simple, or simple-minded, enough. Cavor points out that we now know the universe is full of rays and waves that act at a distance – light rays, x-rays, electricity and gravity. And we know of materials which block some of these rays – light and electricity and x-rays. So why can’t we create something which blocks the effect of gravity?

Bedford immediately sees the vast amounts of money to be made from such a material in a hundred and one commercial applications:

An extraordinary possibility came rushing into my mind. Suddenly I saw, as in a vision, the whole solar system threaded with Cavorite liners and spheres de luxe. (p.27)

So Bedford persuades the rather other-worldly Cavor to take him on as a ‘partner’, and becomes a regular visitor to the latter’s house down the hill (incidentally observing the comic rivalry of the three working class labourers Cavor has working in his various workshops).

An enormous explosion and then a terrific hurricane announce to the narrator that Cavor has indeed succeeded in making the new material. it happened by fluke, when a substance they’d been working on was left to cool and crystallised into the material they now decide to christen ‘cavorite’. (It all takes place on 14 October 1899, as Bedford faithfully records.)

What caused the hurricane is that, as soon as it came into existence, the cavorite blocked the earth’s gravitational pull from working on the air above it. This meant that that air – which normally presses downwards at a pressure of 14 pounds per square inch – ceased doing so, and instead floated freely upwards. This created a column of ’empty air’ directly about the square of cavorite. Into this gravity-less tube rushed all the surrounding air which, on finding itself also liberated from the earth’s gravity, also lost its downward weight and was itself forced upwards by the rest of the surrounding air rushing in. And so on and so on. In a split second the pull of pressurised air into the column of unweighted air created a huge inrush of air from the surroundings, in which everything which was not tied down was immediately dragged towards it at tremendous force.

For the few moments that this happened all the air in the neighbourhood was sucked into the gravity-free tube – which explains the sudden hurricane Cavor and Bedford felt. But then they themselves saw the little sheet of cavorite itself get sucked up by the empty vortex and they both watched it soar up through the column, up, up and – presumably – right out of the earth’s atmosphere… at which point everything returned to normal. ‘By Jove, old chap.’

Bedford and Cavor look at each other. This thing could escape the earth’s atmosphere. It could fulfil man’s oldest dream of leaving earth. But how to steer or control it? Cavor goes off pondering and the next day has come up with a solution: encase the cavorite in steel plates which mask its anti-gravity effect, and only open the plates facing in a certain direction when you want the anti-gravity cavorite to work in that direction.

(You can see why Wells has his narrator, Bedford, continually lament that he didn’t keep notes, didn’t make a record of the process by which cavorite was made, didn’t follow all of Cavor’s abstruse thinking and so on. This is because Well’s idea doesn’t really make practical sense.)

So the pair construct a sphere, with an inner layer made of glass, then covered in warm cavorite paste, then steel divided into plates. (In fact it’s less a sphere than a polyhedron made of flat plates. And the plates are more, in fact, like ‘blinds’ which can be opened and closed. I’ve always found this quite hard to visualise.) Once everything is in place they heat the cavorite paste to securely bind it to the ‘sphere’ and then, as it cools, it assumes the magical properties and – whoosh!

Illustration for The First Men In the Moon by E. Herring (1901) Illustration for The First Men In the Moon by E. Hering (1901)

The idea is that to steer the sphere you open a plate in the direction you want gravity to cease working and are repelled away from any nearby object (the earth or moon or sun) which would ordinarily exert the attractive power of gravity. Once in space, close the plates and you’ll be pulled towards the nearest big object. Like the moon.

Bedford climbs into the sphere and Cavor shows him how he’s furnished it – the blankets, some frozen oxygen in cylinders, some food, an electric light and some carbolic acid device to get rid of the carbon dioxide they inhale. But while Bedford is still pondering whether he wants to go, Cavor opens the earthside shutters, the cavorite works and whoosh! they are flying towards the moon.

Wells’s story races at top speed to prevent you from realising what tosh it is, and to enchant you in his narrative spell. Wonder follows wonder. First of all there is weightlessness. Maybe earlier writers had realised that we would be weightless in space but Wells gives a very accurate prophecy of what it feels like, the tingling in the blood and the way everything inside the sphere floats around bumping into everything else.

It was the strangest sensation conceivable, floating thus loosely in space, at first indeed horribly strange, and when the horror passed, not disagreeable at all, exceeding restful; indeed, the nearest thing in earthly experience to it that I know is lying on a very thick, soft feather bed. But the quality of utter detachment and independence! I had not reckoned on things like this. I had expected a violent jerk at starting, a giddy sense of speed. Instead I felt – as if I were disembodied. It was not like the beginning of a journey; it was like the beginning of a dream.

They open some of the plates to see where they’re headed and a) are dazzled by the brightness of the sun and b) looking the other direction, are stunned by the profusion of stars, millions more than you can see through earth’s atmosphere.

Cavor makes last-minute adjustments and they come to land in a vast crater on the moon. Here the reader is bombarded with vivid impressions. It is dark and the ground is covered in soft white stuff which they only slowly realise is not dust but frozen atmosphere. They have arrived just at sunrise over the crater and are astonished to watch the frozen white stuff all around them melt and then evaporate, to form an atmosphere, tingeing the sky blue.

Is it breathable? Cavor performs the ludicrously amateur experiment of opening the manhole which they use to get in and out of the capsule and discovers that – yes, it is thinner than earth’s but the moon’s atmosphere turns out to be perfectly breathable. (No ill effects from sunlight, radiation, burning, toxic gases, nothing! Convenient, eh?)

They climb outside and are astounded to watch small pebbles shiver, pop, put out roots, and then stalks. They are plants and shrubs and strange tree-sized flora, which grows even as they watch. Of course. The moon’s ‘year’ – the length of time it takes the sun to rise and set over the lunar surface – only lasts for 14 earth days. In that fortnight, life forms have to spring, grow, mature, produce their own seed, and decline.

But the thing they are most enraptured with is the low gravity. Only a sixth of the earth’s. Off they go springing and bounding in giant leaps amid the surreally growing and blossoming fruits of the moon. Until – oops – they both realise they have forgotten where the sphere was and, looking back, see only an immense rustling growing forest of moon flora.

And it is then that they hear an ominous boom boom boom noise from beneath the surface and a grinding as of great gates opening. Not long afterwards they see the first of the Selenites herding a vast slug-like creature with tiny closed eyes and a horrid red mouth which is slurping and munching its way through the foliage, like a farmer herding a monstrous cow.

Illustration for The First Men In the Moon by E. Herring (1901) Illustration for The First Men In the Moon by E. Herring (1901)

Amazement Wells’s aim is to amaze, stun, astonish and astound. The basic, foundational trope of a visit to a strange land is reminiscent of any number of late-Victorian yarns – Vernes’ Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864), Rider Haggard’s journeys to darkest Africa (She, 1886), or Conan Doyle’s Professor Challenger trip to a Lost World (1912) in the remotest Amazon.

But science fiction has the advantage over mere adventure stories in that it can make things up purely to astound, astonish, shock, disgust and amaze the reader.

Because the text is available online, it is searchable, and so I searched and counted no fewer than 415 exclamation marks, as the characters, and the author, continually signal their amazement at their astounding discoveries!!!

Then, for fun, I searched all the instances of the word ‘amazing’.

It comes to me with a certain quality of astonishment that my participation in these amazing adventures of Mr. Cavor was, after all, the outcome of the purest accident.

[Cavor’s workshop] looked like business from cellar to attic – an amazing little place to find in an out-of-the-way village

It was an amazing piece of reasoning. Much as it amazed and exercised me at the time.

And then, sudden, swift, and amazing, came the lunar day.

With a steady assurance, a swift deliberation, these amazing seeds thrust a rootlet downward to the earth and a queer little bundle-like bud into the air.

Cavor panted something about ‘amazing sensations’.

What the Selenites made of this amazing, and to my mind undignified irruption from another planet, I have no means of guessing.

Amazing little corner in the universe – the landing place of men!

… returning after amazing adventures to this world of ours.

There were several amazing forms, with heads reduced to microscopic proportions and blobby bodies.

Amazing and incredible as it may seem, these two creatures, these fantastic men insects, these beings of other world, were presently communicating with Cavor by means of terrestrial speech.

The dictionary definition of to amaze is ‘to cause someone to be extremely surprised’. Synonyms for ‘amaze’ give a sense of the goal of Well’s fantasies (and of the thousands of pulp sci-fi writers who followed him). it is to:

astonish, astound, surprise, bewilder, stun, stagger, flabbergast, nonplus, shock, startle, shake, stop someone in their tracks, stupefy, leave open-mouthed, leave aghast, take someone’s breath away, dumbfound, daze, benumb, perplex, confound, dismay, disconcert, shatter, take aback, jolt, shake up

Taken prisoner Back in the story our heroes sneak away from the ghastly apparition of the Selenite and realise they are hungry. Not having any provisions from the sphere they are driven by desperation to nibble one of the growing lunar ‘trees’ and Wells gives quite a humorous account of the way that the ‘food’ does them no harm but makes them both very drunk. Through their drunken bickering they are aware of Selenites surrounding them and of some kind of struggle, then it all goes dark.

They wake up with hangovers in a dark cell in handcuffs and shackles. One or two individual Selenites come to see them before they are raised to their feet and led by a posse of Selenites, some of whom are carrying the sharp spiked goads they’d seen one using on get the big fat mooncalf earlier. Our heroes are fascinated and disgusted at the Selenites’ appearance, a kind of giant ant. The shapes of their heads appear to vary, indicating different brain size and probably advanced specialisation of job or function in what they come to realise is the complex Selenite civilisation.

They are taken through caverns measureless to man, past enormous machinery which appears to be pumping out some kind of liquid which glows blue and provides illumination here. Cavor speculates wildly that there may be a whole civilisation here, under the surface of the moon. Maybe networks of caverns descending via tunnels down to some inner sea. Scooped out and developed over thousands of years.

When they come to a narrow plank going out over what appears to be a vast bottomless pit, Bedford rebels. One of the Selenites goads him with the spiky implement and he sees red. He punches the Selenite and is astonished to watch his fist go right through its head and out the other side. They are clearly far less sturdy and strongly made than humans. Before he knows it he is attacking all of them and then grabbing Cavor to make a getaway.

This is actually the turning point of the book, because the rest of the main narrative describes their panic-stricken escape back to the surface of the moon. It is a chase narrative. As you might imagine, it involves climbing up clefts and stumbling into vast caverns and a lot more fighting, with the unpleasant discovery that the Selenites have a sort of crossbow which fires spears.

Nonetheless, triumphing over all these perils our heroes finally blunder out into a huge circular shaft with spiral steps running up along the wall (the kind of thing we’ve all seen in sci-fi and fantasy movies) leading up to the surface. Up it they run, emerging into the lip of a ‘crater’ – and they now understand that the moon’s ‘craters’ are in fact an immense network of circular ‘lids’ which can be retracted to reveal the labyrinth of tunnels created by Selenite civilisation and which allow the Selenites to emerge onto the surface to farm their herds of moon cows.

The sun is visibly waning: some 14 days have passed underground though they haven’t noticed, and is now threatening to set with all that entails in terms of losing the breathable atmosphere. Where is the sphere?

Afflicted by despair as they survey the vast area of lunar foliage, now visibly browning and declining, they pin a handkerchief to a nearby bush and set off to explore in opposite directions, taking vast moon leaps as they go.

Nearing exhaustion and plagued by fear that search parties of very angry Selenites will be out after them, Bedford is on the brink of giving up when he is momentarily dazzled by a shaft of light and realises it is sunlight reflecting off a panel of the sphere. Weeping with relief he bounds over and confirms it’s true. But what of Cavor? He leaps to a nearby peak and shouts Cavor’s name but – as Wells had pointed out from the first (in the kind of scientifically accurate detail which are such a joy of these stories) moon air is a lot thinner than earth air and so sound doesn’t carry very well: even when they’re shouting at each other it sounds like they’re whispering.

He can see the hankie in a bush a few miles away and so leaps over towards it. Here he yells Cavor’s name again, then looks down and sees an archetypal adventure story sight: broken bushes, churned-up soil, all the signs of a struggle. Going down he finds a scrap of paper in which Cavor has hurriedly written that he’s hurt his knee in landing awkwardly in a ditch and can hear the Selenites closing in, any moment they’re going to come, oh my God –

And here his message breaks off and the paper is marked by… a red liquid. Blood!!!!

The Selenites have got him. The crater is closed. All entrance to the interior is blocked off. The sun has almost set. Bedford realises he must save himself. I found his flight back the sphere quite gripping. Wells convincingly describes the sudden drop in temperature as the sun declines, the air grows thin and cold and then the first snowflakes will fall. The temperature will ultimately drop to Absolute Zero and Bedford will freeze to death unless he can make it to the sphere in time. At last he is there. Crawling on hands and knees. Barely strength to reach up to the manhole, Twists. Can’t do it. Twists again. Pulls himself up and is… inside!

An exhausted Bedford just about makes it back to the sphere as snow falls, illustration for The First Men In The Moon by Claude Allin Shepperson An exhausted Bedford just about makes it back to the sphere as snow falls, illustration for The First Men In The Moon by Claude Allin Shepperson

Food. Blanket. Warmth. Recovery. Sleep. Wakes rejuvenated. Grasps the grim reality of his situation. Opens the cavorite plates. Silently flies into space. More by luck than judgement he steers a course back to earth.

In an outcome so ludicrous it is like a pantomime, he not only lands back on earth, but he lands back on the south coast of England, barely a few miles from where they took off. On the sea, but conveniently close to a beach which he is then washed up on. Some jolly English chaps are coming down for their morning swim. ‘Crikey, old chap, you look a bit peaky let us take you up to the old hotel.’

Here he tucks into bacon and eggs and is drinking coffee when there’s an explosion and bewilderment outside the door. Some young lad had been hanging round as the chaps took dirty, dishevelled Bedford up to their hotel. He’d looked a bit shifty. The young wretch must have gone back to the sphere, climbed in and opened a plate, making it lift off. Damn and blast! There go Bedford’s dreams of setting up an interplanetary travel agency.

But he still has the gold. Did I mention the gold? Amid their adventures Bedford had realised that the shackles and manacles the Selenites had bound them with were made of gold. He had grabbed a couple of tyre lever-sized gold rods during their breakout. In fact he’d found them handy for fighting their way through the Selenites.

At least he still has them. He is rich.

A coda from Cavor Wells could have stopped his tale there. Instead, there is a coda which takes up a surprising amount of space, pages 150 to 186 in the Everyman paperback edition.

To the outrage of all common sense, a Dutch electrician and early radio ham, picks up radio messages… from the moon! Yes, Cavor was captured, as Bedford had described: but his captors were kind to him, and, once he’d recovered, they took him on a Cook’s Tour of their vast civilisation. Part of this was learning that there was an apparently infinite variety of types of Selenites and soon Cavor was being introduced to the brainy ones: he could tell they were brainy, because they had very big heads! Big heads and thin skins so he could actually see the brain matter pulsating as they thought their deep thoughts.

Turns out that some of the Selenites are specialists in language and set about teaching Cavor who quickly catches on and starts to teach them English. Thus, within a few weeks, Cavor is communicating with the Selenites who explain how their society works, confirm that the moon is a swiss cheese of underground caverns and passages, that the phosphorescent liquid and much else is produced by immense machinery, that at the centre of the moon there is indeed a vast and tempestuous sea – and much more besides.

These visions of an alien civilisation, as so often, develop a strong flavour of being social criticism of the author’s own civilisation. Cavor discovers that the Selenites breed all the different types of workers in the equivalent of test tubes, distorting all aspects of their bodies and brains to suit them to the work they’re destined for. (Anticipating Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World by 30 years).

Harsh? Yes, he is a bit disgusted by it and especially by one particular sight of an embryonic Selenite having its forelimbs artificially lengthened to do manual work, but – and here is the Author’s Message –

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.

On another occasion his guides – the preposterously named Phi-oo and Tsi-puff – bring him to a great field of mushrooms being grown for food, where they find all the workers drugged and fast asleep, until they are needed for the harvest when they’ll be woken. Again, the character Cavor becomes a mouthpiece for the Fabian Socialist H.G. Wells:

To drug the worker one does not want and toss him aside is surely far better than to expel him from his factory to wander starving in the streets

Cavor’s tour climaxes with a presentation to the Grand Lunar, Master of the Moon – at which point the book definitely feels more like a lampoon or a parody than a ‘serious’ fantasy, a kind of ludicrous Wizard of Oz vibe.

Except that here it also reaches a kind of height of teenage socialism. Cavor radios back to earth a lengthy version of his interview with the Grand Lunar which begins with harmless stuff about the structure of the earth, why we live on the surface and not underneath like the Selenites, what weather is like in a place with 12 hour days, and so on. Little by little Cavor describes human civilisation, cities and factories and trains, how we do not breed different types of human to perform different tasks, not yet anyway.

But, when asked whether there is a Grand Earthly as there is a Grand Lunar, he finds himself having to explain the idea of ‘nations’ and ’empires’ and, before he realises it, is describing ‘war’. His brutal description of this absurd folly fills the Grand Lunar and the huge entourage of Selenites listening to Cavor’s account with horror.

Yes, wars in which men flock to the flag, train and arm and proudly wear uniforms, before clashing in huge armies designed solely to kill as many of the opponents as possible. As he proceeds, Cavor notes the moans of disappointment and disillusion rising from the crowd and the ‘expression’ on what passes for the Grand Lunar’s face.

Cover of Amazing Histories magazine, featuring an illustration of Cavor addressing the Great Lunar Cover of Amazing Histories magazine, featuring an illustration of Cavor addressing the Great Lunar

A week later comes the final broadcast we are ever to hear from Cavor. It is a panic-stricken sentence, ‘I was mad to let the Grand Lunar know – ‘… and then a few words attempting to convey the secret of cavorite. Then silence.

Bedford imagines the dismay Cavor’s revelation about the true nature of human beings must have caused among the Selenites, and how the mood turned against Cavor, and how the moon people then realised that he was broadcasting messages to his violent brethren back on earth, with the risk that these psychopaths might return in one of these ‘armies’ and conquer the Selenites.

Gulliver When I read this as a teenager I was awed by Wells’s profound insight into human nature. Now it reminds me of Gulliver’s Travels, in which the hero also describes human behaviour to the peace-loving King of Brobdingnag, who replies, accurately enough:

‘I cannot but conclude the Bulk of your Natives, to be the most pernicious Race of little odious Vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the Surface of the Earth.’

True or not, the point is that, bolted on to the science fantasy, this coda reads very much like a variation on the time-honoured satire on contemporary civilisation and, by extension, of human nature, which goes back before Swift to Thomas More’s Utopia and before that to any number of Roman and Greek authors.

Commentary There are three obvious features about a Wells novel like this, what he called his ‘fantasy novels’:

1. Fast It’s fast-moving. Bedford has bumped into Cavor, built the sphere, gone to the moon, watched the desert bloom, been captured and taken below, escaped and fought his way to the surface, found the sphere and escaped, crash-landed on earth and had a hearty breakfast, all in a mere 150 pages (in the Everyman paperback edition I read).

2. Fantastic The speed prevents you noticing its preposterousness. It’s so fast-moving you don’t notice how quickly you leave the world of Edwardian England, with its pubs and evening strolls along the Downs, completely behind. It only requires ten or so pages from Bedford meeting Cavor, to him thoroughly involving him in his theoretical speculations, and then – whoosh! they’re off to the moon.

It is fast-moving because it is, in a sense, pulp. Only by moving fast from one astounding moment to the next can it stop you pausing to reflect and thus breaking the spell.

3. Mundanity But, contradicting a little what I’ve said above, just as important as the speed and fantasy, is its air of mundaneness and normality.

I think it was Tom Shippey in his book about Lord of the Rings who explained that what made the book such a success was the invention of the hobbits. Tolkien had been working on his private-world mythology for decades, inventing languages and complex histories for his elves and dwarves and so on, and had produced quite a few texts narrating whole eras in his legendary Middle Earth. But they were boring and flat.

It was the invention of the down-to-earth, small, beer-drinking, pipe-smoking, no-nonsense, common-sensical hobbits which gave him a vehicle to take the reader into his world. We are introduced to the hobbits first and thoroughly identify with their idealised pastoral English life – before the first hints of other-worldly menace ever appear.

This explains why Lord of the Rings is regularly voted the greatest novel of the 20th century, while I’ve never met anyone who managed to complete The Silmarillion, another of Tolkien’s epics, describing a different era in Middle Earth’s history, but which lacks hobbits and, therefore, all charm and – crucially – representatives of the ordinary reader; imaginative vectors allowing us to enter into his imaginative world.

It’s an overlooked element of Wells that his best books also require this dichotomy – the interlocking of two opposites, the fantastic and the mundane.

We all know about the fantastical in his books, for example the idea that Martians launch an attack on earth or a man invents a time machine and travels to the distant future. Those are certainly the ideas at the core of the books. But when you actually read the texts what comes across almost as powerfully is the very mundane details of the places where this all happens – that the Martians land in Dorking and head towards London across the humdrum landscape of Surrey, blasting well known landmarks on their way (which is why there is a striking sculpture of a ‘Martian’ in Dorking town centre).

Wells himself was well aware of doing this:

For the writer of fantastic stories to help the reader play the game properly he must help him, in every possible unobtrusive way, to domesticate the impossible hypothesis. (Quoted in the critical afterword to the Everyman edition)

And one mark of this is the way the people who witness and generally write up the narratives are always very ordinary, everyday chaps, who are often a bit confused, puzzled, don’t quite follow what’s going on, miss important details, don’t quite follow the scientific whatchamacallit, and, in their bumbling innocence, stand in as a kind of stylised representative of the innocent reader.

They are all Dr Watsons to a succession of fierce, eccentric or visionary Holmeses, respectively:

1895 The Time Machine – first person unnamed narrator 1896 The Island of Doctor Moreau – first person narrative by shipwrecked sailor Edward Prendick 1897 The Invisible Man – (third person narrator) 1898 The War of the Worlds – first person unnamed narrator 1899 When the Sleeper Wakes – Graham, the eponymous sleeper 1901 The First Men in the Moon – first person narrative by Mr Bedford 1904 The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth – third person narrative 1906 In The Days of the Comet – unnamed first person narrator 1908 The War in the Air – featuring Bert and Tom Smallways 1914 The World Set Free – third person narrator Making this list shows that this isn’t exactly a hard-and-fast rule, but that most of the most effective fantasies are told in the first person by someone undergoing the adventure themselves.

It goes some way to explaining why of the early stories The Invisible Man stands out as particularly unlikeable and negative: it is one of the few not told by a more or less reasonable chap, who we’re meant to identify with.

As a footnote, this helps explain the presence of the three working class men who Cavor employs in his lab, in the earlier pages of the book. They are each jealous of each other’s specialisms, argue and often down tools to go off to the pub and argue some more and so perform the function of the rude mechanicals in Shakespeare, offering comic interludes but also throwing into relief the more serious activities of their middle class superiors. Anchoring them to a humorous everyday reality.

This also explains why Bedford, at an early stage, after he’s had an argument with Cavor, goes off for an epic walk across Kent, enjoying the countryside, stopping for lunch in a pub, chatting with the local yokels while he puffs on his pipe. All designed to embed the wild fantasy in a comfortable, relaxing coat of verisimilitude.

Related links The First Men in the Moon on Amazon The First Men in the Moon online Other H.G. Wells reviews 1895 The Time Machine – the unnamed inventor and time traveller tells his dinner party guests the story of his adventure among the Eloi and the Morlocks in the year 802,701 1896 The Island of Doctor Moreau – Edward Prendick is stranded on a remote island where he discovers the ‘owner’, Dr Gustave Moreau, is experimentally creating human-animal hybrids 1897 The Invisible Man – an embittered young scientist, Griffin, makes himself invisible, starting with comic capers in a Sussex village, and ending with demented murders 1898 The War of the Worlds – the Martians invade earth 1899 When The Sleeper Wakes/The Sleeper Wakes – Graham awakes in the year 2100 to find himself at the centre of a revolution to overthrow the repressive society of the future 1899 A Story of the Days To Come – set in the same London of the future described in The Sleeper Wakes, Denton and Elizabeth fall in love but descend into poverty, and experience life as serfs in the Underground city run by the sinister Labour Corps

1901 The First Men in the Moon – Mr Bedford and Mr Cavor use the invention of ‘Cavorite’ to fly to the moon and discover the underground civilisation of the Selenites 1904 The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth – two scientists invent a compound which makes plants, animals and humans grow to giant size, leading to a giants’ rebellion against the ‘little people’ 1906 In the Days of the Comet – a passing comet trails gasses through earth’s atmosphere which bring about ‘the Great Change’, inaugurating an era of wisdom and fairness, as told by narrator Willie Leadford 1908 The War in the Air – Bert Smallways, a bicycle-repairman from Bun Hill in Kent, manages by accident to be an eye-witness to the outbreak of the war in the air which brings Western civilisation to an end

1914 The World Set Free – A history of the future in which the devastation of an atomic war leads to the creation of a World Government, told via a number of characters who are central to the change

Other science fiction reviews 1888 Looking Backward 2000-1887 by Edward Bellamy – Julian West wakes up in the year 2000 to discover a peaceful revolution has ushered in a society of state planning, equality and contentment 1890 News from Nowhere by William Morris – waking from a long sleep, William Guest is shown round a London transformed into villages of contented craftsmen

1905 With the Night Mail by Rudyard Kipling – it is 2000 and the narrator accompanies a GPO airship across the Atlantic 1909 The Machine Stops by E.M. Foster – people of the future live in underground cells regulated by ‘the Machine’ until one of them rebels

1912 The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Professor Challenger leads an expedition to a plateau in the Amazon rainforest where prehistoric animals still exist 1912 As Easy as ABC by Rudyard Kipling – set in 2065 in a world characterised by isolation and privacy, forces from the ABC are sent to suppress an outbreak of ‘crowdism’ 1913 The Horror of the Heights by Arthur Conan Doyle – airman Captain Joyce-Armstrong flies higher than anyone before him and discovers the upper atmosphere is inhabited by vast jellyfish-like monsters 1918 The Land That Time Forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs – a trilogy of pulp novellas in which all-American heroes battle ape-men and dinosaurs on a lost island in the Antarctic

1921 We by Evgeny Zamyatin – like everyone else in the dystopian future of OneState, D-503 lives life according to the Table of Hours until I-330 wakens him to the truth 1927 The Maracot Deep by Arthur Conan Doyle – a scientist, engineer and a hero are trying out a new bathysphere when the wire snaps and they hurtle to the bottom of the sea, there to discover…

1932 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

1949 Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell – after a nuclear war, inhabitants of ruined London are divided into the sheep-like ‘proles’ and members of the Party who are kept under unremitting surveillance

1971 Mutant 59: The Plastic Eater by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis – a genetically engineered bacterium starts eating the world’s plastic

1980 Russian Hide and Seek by Kingsley Amis – in an England of the future which has been invaded and conquered by the Russians, a hopeless attempt to overthrow the occupiers is easily crushed

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Related The Golden Age of Science Fiction edited by Kingsley Amis (1981) In "Books" 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke (1968) In "Adventure" Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut (1979) In "America" 1 COMMENT by SIMON on SEPTEMBER 17, 2018 • PERMALINK Posted in BOOKS, FANTASY, NOVEL, SCIENCE FICTION Tagged 1901, ALDOUS HUXLEY, ALIENS, BRAVE NEW WORLD, CAVORITE, CLAUDE ALLIN SHEPPERSON, CONAN DOYLE, CYRANO DE BERGERAC, DORKING, E. HERING, FABIAN SOCIETY, GRAND LUNAR, GULLIVER'S TRAVELS, H.G. WELLS, JONATHAN SWIFT, JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EART, KENT COAST, KING OF BROBDINGNAG, LORD OF THE RINGS, MR BEDFORD, MR CAVOR, NOVEL, PHI-OO, PROFESSOR CHALLENGER, QUENTIN BLAKE, RIDER HAGGARD, SCIENCE FANTASY, SCIENCE FICTION, SELENITE, SOCIALISM, SPACE TRAVEL, THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON, THE LOST WORLD, THE SILMARILLION, THOMAS MORE, TOM SHIPPEY, TSI-PUFF, UTOPIA Previous Post Sagittarius Rising by Cecil Lewis (1936)Next Post Looking Backward 2000-1887 by Edward Bellamy (1888) Leave a comment 1 Comment

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Good ReadsEdit

The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells, Steven McLean, China Miéville (Goodreads Author) (Introduction), Patrick Parrinder (Introduction)

3.69  ·   Rating details ·  11,015 ratings  ·  485 reviews

When penniless businessman Mr Bedford retreats to the Kent coast to write a play, he meets by chance the brilliant Dr Cavor, an absent-minded scientist on the brink of developing a material that blocks gravity. Cavor soon succeeds in his experiments, only to tell a stunned Bedford the invention makes possible one of the oldest dreams of humanity: a journey to the moon. With Bedford motivated by money, and Cavor by the desire for knowledge, the two embark on the expedition. But neither are prepared for what they find - a world of freezing nights, boiling days and sinister alien life, on which they may be trapped forever.

WiliEdit

The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells, Steven McLean, China Miéville (Goodreads Author) (Introduction), Patrick Parrinder (Introduction)

3.69  ·   Rating details ·  11,015 ratings  ·  485 reviews

When penniless businessman Mr Bedford retreats to the Kent coast to write a play, he meets by chance the brilliant Dr Cavor, an absent-minded scientist on the brink of developing a material that blocks gravity. Cavor soon succeeds in his experiments, only to tell a stunned Bedford the invention makes possible one of the oldest dreams of humanity: a journey to the moon. With Bedford motivated by money, and Cavor by the desire for knowledge, the two embark on the expedition. But neither are prepared for what they find - a world of freezing nights, boiling days and sinister alien life, on which they may be trapped forever.

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Facsimile of the original 1st editionEdit

"The Early Fiction of H.G. Wells: Fantasies of Science". Retrieved 31 January 2018.Edit

H. G. Wells, "Preface", in Seven Famous Novels (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1934, p. vii). Wells considered this category of work, which in his oeuvre also includes The Time Machine, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds, The Food of the Gods, and In the Days of the Comet, to be "a class of writing which includes the Golden Ass of Apuleius, the True Histories of Lucian, Peter Schlemil and the story of Frankenstein . . . they do not aim to project a serious possibility; they aim indeed only at the same amount of conviction as one gets in a good gripping dream. They have to hold the reader to the end by art and illusion and not by proof and argument, and the moment he closes the cover and reflects he wakes up to their impossibility" (ibid.).Edit

  • The First Men in the Moon, Ch. 1.
  • The First Men in the Moon, Ch. 3.
  • The First Men in the Moon, Ch. 4.
  • The First Men in the Moon, Ch. 10.
  • The First Men in the Moon, Ch. 19. The unnamed narrator of The War of the Worlds experiences a similar sense of self-alienation.
  • The First Men in the Moon, Ch. 24.
  • The First Men in the Moon, Ch. 25.

"Wells's work shows a persistent anti-religious bent, from the curate in War of the Worlds, a disgusting caricature, to favoring the idea of persecution and complete destruction of organised religion in The Shape of things to Come. One need not be a religious believer oneself to decry this bias as a serious flaw" (Dr. Robert Fields, "Sociological Themes in Science Fiction", chapter 4).

Stableford, Brian (1993). "Dystopias". In John Clute; Peter Nicholls. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2nd ed.). Orbit, London. pp. 360–362. ISBN 1-85723-124-4.

Lefebvre, Thierry (2011), "A Trip to the Moon: A Composite Film", in Solomon, Matthew, Fantastic Voyages of the Cinematic Imagination: Georges Méliès's Trip to the Moon, Albany: State University of New York Press, pp. 50, 58, ISBN 9781438435817 Robert Godwin, H.G. Wells The First Men in the Moon: the Story of the 1919 Film, Apogee Space Books, ISBN 978-1926837-31-4 Stark, Sonja (18 January 2010). "The First Men in the Moon in 3-D". Times Union. Retrieved 13 February 2010.

The Cambridge Companion to Science FictionEdit

An intimate of the heart and the heavensp p. 50–51 Crossley, Robert H.G. Wells Wildside Press LLC, 1986

External linksEdit

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The full text of The First Men in the Moon at Wikisource

Media related to The First Men in the Moon at Wikimedia Commons The First Men in the Moon at Project Gutenberg The First Men in the Moon at Google Books The First Men in the Moon audiobook – Streams online.

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Plot summaryEdit

The narrator is a London businessman who withdraws to the countryside to write a play, by which he hopes to alleviate his financial problems. Bedford rents a small countryside house in Lympne, in Kent, where he wants to work in peace. He is bothered every afternoon, however, at precisely the same time, by a passer-by making odd noises. After two weeks Bedford accosts the man, who proves to be a reclusive physicist named Mr. Cavor. Bedford befriends Cavor when he learns he is developing a new material, cavorite, which can negate the force of gravity.

When a sheet of cavorite is prematurely processed, it makes the air above it weightless and shoots off into space. Bedford sees in the commercial production of cavorite a possible source of "wealth enough to work any sort of social revolution we fancied; we might own and order the whole world".[3] Cavor hits upon the idea of a spherical spaceship made of "steel, lined with glass", and with sliding "windows or blinds" made of cavorite by which it can be steered, and persuades a reluctant Bedford to undertake a voyage to the Moon; Cavor is certain there is no life there.[4] On the way to the Moon, they experience weightlessness, which Bedford finds "exceedingly restful".[5] On the surface of the Moon the two men discover a desolate landscape, but as the Sun rises, the thin, frozen atmosphere vaporises and strange plants begin to grow with extraordinary rapidity. Bedford and Cavor leave the capsule, but in romping about get lost in the rapidly growing jungle. They hear for the first time a mysterious booming coming from beneath their feet. They encounter "great beasts", "monsters of mere fatness", that they dub "mooncalves", and five-foot-high "Selenites" tending them. At first they hide and crawl about, but growing hungry partake of some "monstrous coralline growths" of fungus that inebriate them. They wander drunkenly until they encounter a party of six extraterrestrials, who capture them.[6] The insectoid lunar natives (referred to as "Selenites", after Selene, the moon goddess) are part of a complex and technologically sophisticated society that lives underground, but this is revealed only in radio communications received from Cavor after Bedford's return to Earth.

Bedford and Cavor break out of captivity beneath the surface of the Moon and flee, killing several Selenites. In their flight they discover that gold is common on the Moon. In their attempt to find their way back to the surface and to their sphere, they come upon some Selenites carving up mooncalves but fight their way past. Back on the surface, they split up to search for their spaceship. Bedford finds it but returns to Earth without Cavor, who injured himself in a fall and was recaptured by the Selenites, as Bedford learns from a hastily scribbled note he left behind.

Chapter 20, "Mr. Bedford in Infinite Space", plays no role in the plot but is a remarkable set piece in which the narrator describes experiencing a quasi-mystical "pervading doubt of my own identity. . . the doubts within me could still argue: 'It is not you that is reading, it is Bedford—but you are not Bedford, you know. That's just where the mistake comes in.' 'Counfound it!' I cried, 'and if I am not Bedford, what am I? But in that direction no light was forthcoming, though the strangest fancies came drifting into my brain, queer remote suspicions like shadow seem from far away... Do you know I had an idea that really I was something quite outside not only the world, but all worlds, and out of space and time, and that this poor Bedford was just a peephole through which I looked at life..."[7]

By good fortune, the narrator lands in the sea off the coast of Britain, near the seaside town of Littlestone, not far from his point of departure. His fortune is made by some gold he brings back, but he loses the sphere when a curious boy named Tommy Simmons climbs into the unattended sphere and shoots off into space. Bedford writes and publishes his story in The Strand Magazine, then learns that "Mr. Julius Wendigee, a Dutch electrician, who has been experimenting with certain apparatus akin to the apparatus used by Mr. Tesla in America", has picked up fragments of radio communications from Cavor sent from inside the Moon. During a period of relative freedom Cavor has taught two Selenites English and learned much about lunar society.

Cavor's account explains that Selenites exist in thousands of forms and find fulfilment in carrying out the specific social function for which they have been brought up: specialisation is the essence of Selenite society. "With knowledge the Selenites grew and changed; mankind stored their knowledge about them and remained brutes—equipped," remarks the Grand Lunar, when he finally meets Cavor and hears about life on Earth.[8] Unfortunately, Cavor reveals humanity's propensity for war; the lunar leader and those listening to the interview are "stricken with amazement". Bedford infers that it is for this reason that Cavor has been prevented from further broadcasting to Earth. Cavor's transmissions are cut off as he is trying to describe how to make cavorite. His final fate is unknown, but Bedford is sure that "we shall never… receive another message from the moon".[9]

Influence on C. S. LewisEdit

C. S. Lewis explicitly stated that his science fiction books were both inspired by and written as an antithesis to those of H. G. Wells. Specifically, he acknowledged The First Men in The Moon to be "the best of the sort [of science fiction] I have read...." (from a letter to Roger Lancelyn Green).

The influence of Wells's book is especially visible in Out of the Silent Planet, the first book of Lewis's Space Trilogy. There, too, a central role in the story line is played by a partnership between a worldly businessman interested in the material gains from space travel (and specifically, in importing extraterrestrial gold to Earth) and a scientist with wider cosmic theories.

Also in Lewis's book, the two quietly build themselves a spaceship in the seclusion of an English country house, and take off into space without being noticed by the rest of the world. (It may be noted that both Wells and Lewis, like virtually all science fiction writers until the 1950s, grossly underestimated the resources needed for even the smallest jaunt outside Earth's gravitational field.) Like Wells's book, Lewis's reaches its climax with the Earth scientist speaking to the wise ruler of an alien world (in this case Oyarsa, the ruler of Malacandra/Mars) and blurting out the warlike and predatory nature of humanity.

However, in Lewis's book the businessman-scientist pair are the villains of the piece. Moreover, his scientist, Professor Weston, has a philosophy diametrically opposite to Cavor's, being an outspoken proponent of human colonisation of other planets, up to and including extermination of "primitive natives".[10]

Other influences, references and adaptationsEdit

Template:Refimprove-section Brian Stableford argues this is the first alien dystopia.[11] The book could also be considered to have launched the science fiction subgenre depicting intelligent social insects, in some cases a non-human species such as the space-traveling Shaara "bees" in the future universe of A. Bertram Chandler, in others (such as Frank Herbert's Hellstrom's Hive) humans who evolved or consciously engineered their society in this direction. Nigel Kneale co-adapted the screenplay (with Jan Read) for the 1964 film version; it is reasonable to assume that Kneale's familiarity with the work may have inspired the idea of the Martian hives which feature so significantly in Quatermass and the Pit, one of Kneale's most-admired creations.Template:Original research inline

  • In the 1925 novel Menace from the Moon, by English writer Bohun Lynch, a lunar colony, founded 1654 by a Dutchman, an Englishman, an Italian, and "their women", threatens Earth with heat-ray doom unless it helps them escape their dying world.
  • Cavorite was featured as a major plot device in the 1999 first volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Cavor (given the first name of Selwyn) also appears in the volume and is mentioned in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier. In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume III: Century, the Selenites are featured as enemies of the nude lunar Amazons.
  • Cavorite also is used as a minor plot device in Warehouse 13, with its gravity blocking properties used by Wells to make a trap.
  • Cavorite and Cavor also play a major role in the end of Scarlet Traces: The Great Game, with the Selenites also briefly depicted.
  • The video game Voyage: Inspired by Jules Verne was based both on Wells's The First Men in the Moon, along with Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon.
  • Cavorite, Cavor, and the Selenites are a large factor in The Martian War, where Cavor's ship takes Wells, his wife, and T.H. Huxley first to the Moon, then to Mars. In the story, the Selenites have been enslaved by the Martians, used as food creatures and slaves to build the canals and invasion fleet.
  • In the short story "Moon Ants" by Zinaida Gippius, the narrator is attempting to understand the reason for a sharp increase of local suicides and for the suicide mindset in general. At one point he recollects Wells's novel and eventually decides that mankind, or just Russia in general, has become much like the Selenites in its decadent, self-destructive culture. Like the Selenites, man is seemingly tough on the outside but easily knocked aside, to crumple up and die, by the rigors of life.
  • The events of The First Men in the Moon are used as the precursor to the player's adventure in Larry Niven and Steven Barnes' "Dream Park" series adventure novel, The Moon Maze Game, which describes a fantasy role playing game being played on (and televised from) a crater and tunnels on the moon.
  • An antigravity material called "cavorite" also appears in Vernor Vinge's novel A Deepness in the Sky.
  • A substance similar to cavorite (called gravitar) is used in Space: 1889 & Beyond, which also features a character called Rear Admiral Herbert Cavor and the indigenous population of Luna are called Selenites (the name being derived from the same source material mentioned in The First Men in the Moon). This series also features a character called Commander George Bedford. According to author Andy Frankham-Allen (who also developed the series) this was all a very intentional reference to the works of HG Wells, with the main protagonist, Professor Nathanial Stone, a direct reference to Parson Nathaniel from Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds; Nathanial Stone's father is a reverend.
  • Cavorite also lent its name to an alien material in Robert Buettner's Jason Wanderer/Orphan's Legacy novels, with the material being named after H.G. Wells' cavorite due the similar properties.
  • Cavorite again shows up (with similar properties) in the Japanese anime Princess Principal, set in an alternate history fin de siècle steampunk Britain.

Film adaptationsEdit

The First Men in the Moon has been adapted to film four times, and once prior to that as a mash-up Verne-Wells film:

  • A Trip to the Moon (1902) was released one year after the publication of Wells's source material. It incorporated two of Jules Verne's novels (From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon) while the adventures on the Moon were taken from Wells's book.[12]
  • The first adaptation was made in 1919; the first film made from a science fiction novel.[13]
  • The second adaptation was made in 1964. In this version, the men wear diving suits as spacesuits, which they did not in the original novel.
  • The third adaptation was made for TV in 2010; this is the version most faithful to the novel.
  • The fourth adaptation, in 3D, by David Rosler, was in production from 2009 to 2010.[14]

Other influences, references and adaptationsEdit

Template:Refimprove-section Brian Stableford argues this is the first alien dystopia.[11] The book could also be considered to have launched the science fiction subgenre depicting intelligent social insects, in some cases a non-human species such as the space-traveling Shaara "bees" in the future universe of A. Bertram Chandler, in others (such as Frank Herbert's Hellstrom's Hive) humans who evolved or consciously engineered their society in this direction. Nigel Kneale co-adapted the screenplay (with Jan Read) for the 1964 film version; it is reasonable to assume that Kneale's familiarity with the work may have inspired the idea of the Martian hives which feature so significantly in Quatermass and the Pit, one of Kneale's most-admired creations.Template:Original research inline

  • In the 1925 novel Menace from the Moon, by English writer Bohun Lynch, a lunar colony, founded 1654 by a Dutchman, an Englishman, an Italian, and "their women", threatens Earth with heat-ray doom unless it helps them escape their dying world.
  • Cavorite was featured as a major plot device in the 1999 first volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Cavor (given the first name of Selwyn) also appears in the volume and is mentioned in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier. In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume III: Century, the Selenites are featured as enemies of the nude lunar Amazons.
  • Cavorite also is used as a minor plot device in Warehouse 13, with its gravity blocking properties used by Wells to make a trap.
  • Cavorite and Cavor also play a major role in the end of Scarlet Traces: The Great Game, with the Selenites also briefly depicted.
  • The video game Voyage: Inspired by Jules Verne was based both on Wells's The First Men in the Moon, along with Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon.
  • Cavorite, Cavor, and the Selenites are a large factor in The Martian War, where Cavor's ship takes Wells, his wife, and T.H. Huxley first to the Moon, then to Mars. In the story, the Selenites have been enslaved by the Martians, used as food creatures and slaves to build the canals and invasion fleet.
  • In the short story "Moon Ants" by Zinaida Gippius, the narrator is attempting to understand the reason for a sharp increase of local suicides and for the suicide mindset in general. At one point he recollects Wells's novel and eventually decides that mankind, or just Russia in general, has become much like the Selenites in its decadent, self-destructive culture. Like the Selenites, man is seemingly tough on the outside but easily knocked aside, to crumple up and die, by the rigors of life.
  • The events of The First Men in the Moon are used as the precursor to the player's adventure in Larry Niven and Steven Barnes' "Dream Park" series adventure novel, The Moon Maze Game, which describes a fantasy role playing game being played on (and televised from) a crater and tunnels on the moon.
  • An antigravity material called "cavorite" also appears in Vernor Vinge's novel A Deepness in the Sky.
  • A substance similar to cavorite (called gravitar) is used in Space: 1889 & Beyond, which also features a character called Rear Admiral Herbert Cavor and the indigenous population of Luna are called Selenites (the name being derived from the same source material mentioned in The First Men in the Moon). This series also features a character called Commander George Bedford. According to author Andy Frankham-Allen (who also developed the series) this was all a very intentional reference to the works of HG Wells, with the main protagonist, Professor Nathanial Stone, a direct reference to Parson Nathaniel from Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds; Nathanial Stone's father is a reverend.
  • Cavorite also lent its name to an alien material in Robert Buettner's Jason Wanderer/Orphan's Legacy novels, with the material being named after H.G. Wells' cavorite due the similar properties.
  • Cavorite again shows up (with similar properties) in the Japanese anime Princess Principal, set in an alternate history fin de siècle steampunk Britain.

Film adaptationsEdit

The First Men in the Moon has been adapted to film four times, and once prior to that as a mash-up Verne-Wells film:

  • A Trip to the Moon (1902) was released one year after the publication of Wells's source material. It incorporated two of Jules Verne's novels (From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon) while the adventures on the Moon were taken from Wells's book.[15]
  • The first adaptation was made in 1919; the first film made from a science fiction novel.[16]
  • The second adaptation was made in 1964. In this version, the men wear diving suits as spacesuits, which they did not in the original novel.
  • The third adaptation was made for TV in 2010; this is the version most faithful to the novel.
  • The fourth adaptation, in 3D, by David Rosler, was in production from 2009 to 2010.[17]

Film adaptationsEdit

The First Men in the Moon has been adapted to film four times, and once prior to that as a mash-up Verne-Wells film:

  • A Trip to the Moon (1902) was released one year after the publication of Wells's source material. It incorporated two of Jules Verne's novels (From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon) while the adventures on the Moon were taken from Wells's book.[18]
  • The first adaptation was made in 1919; the first film made from a science fiction novel.[19]
  • The second adaptation was made in 1964. In this version, the men wear diving suits as spacesuits, which they did not in the original novel.
  • The third adaptation was made for TV in 2010; this is the version most faithful to the novel.
  • The fourth adaptation, in 3D, by David Rosler, was in production from 2009 to 2010.[20]

CriticismEdit

Soon after the publication of The First Men in the Moon, Wells was accused by the Irish writer Robert Cromie of having stolen from his novel A Plunge into Space (1890), which used an antigravity device similar to that in Chrysostom Trueman's The History of a Voyage to the Moon (1864).[21] Both novels had certain elements in common, such as a globular spaceship built in secret after inventing a way to overcome Earth's gravity. Wells simply replied: "I have never heard of Mr Cromie nor of the book he attempts to advertise by insinuations of plagiarism on my part."[22]

Jules Verne was publicly hostile to Wells's novel mainly due to Wells having his characters go to the moon via a totally fictional creation of an anti-gravitational material rather than the actual use of technology.[23]

Influence on Edgar Rice BurroughsEdit

Obviously,Edgar Rice Burrough was influenced by the First Men in the Moon.Some of At the Earth's Core (novel) read similar,even if the subject matter is about David Innes and Professor Abner Perry travelling into the center of the Earth and not to the moon.Also The Moon Maid more was influenced by First Men in the Moon. Open main menu Wikisource Search Wikisource The First Men in the Moon EditWatch this page The First Men in the Moon (1901) by H. G. Wells Chapter 1→ Sister Projects.sister projects: Wikipedia article, Commons category, Wikidata item. The First Men in the Moon is a science fiction novel wiritten by the British author H. G. Wells. It was originally serialised in The Strand Magazine from December 1900 to August 1901, and first published in hardcover in 1901 by George Newnes. The novel tells the story of a journey to the moon undertaken by the two main protagonists: the impecunious businessman Bedford and the brilliant but eccentric scientist Dr Cavor. — Excerpted from The First Men in the Moon on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Speaker Icon.svg one or more chapters are available in a spoken word format. First Men in the Moon (1901) cover.jpg THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON

First Men in the Moon (1901) frontispiece.jpg "I was progressing in great leaps and bounds"

⁠Frontispiece.

==The First Men in the Moon==

By

H. G. Wells

Author of "Tales of Space and Time," "Love and Mr. Lewisham," and "Anticipations"

⁠"Three thousand stadia from the earth to the moon. . . . Marvel not, my comrade, if I appear talking to you on super-terrestrial and aerial topics. The long and the short of the matter is that I am running over the order of a Journey I have lately made."—Lucian's Icaromenippus

London George Newnes, Limited Southampton Street, Strand 1901

CONTENTS


PAGE I. MR. BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR AT LYMPNE ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 1 II. THE FIRST MAKING OF CAVORITE ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 28 III. THE BUILDING OF THE SPHERE ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 41 IV. INSIDE THE SPHERE ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 54 V. THE JOURNEY TO THE MOON ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 61 VI. THE LANDING ON THE MOON ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 70 VII. SUNRISE ON THE MOON ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 77 VIII. A LUNAR MORNING ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 85 IX. PROSPECTING BEGINS ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 92 X. LOST MEN IN THE MOON ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 107 XI. THE MOONCALF PASTURES ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 115 XII. THE SELENITE'S FACE ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 132 XIII. MR. CAVOR MAKES SOME SUGGESTIONS ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 140 XIV. EXPERIMENTS IN INTERCOURSE ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 152 XV. THE GIDDY BRIDGE ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 161 XVI. POINTS OF VIEW ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 178 XVII. THE FIGHT IN THE CAVE OF THE MOON BUTCHERS ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 191 XVIII. IN THE SUNLIGHT ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 207 XIX. MR. BEDFORD ALONE ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 221 XX. MR. BEDFORD IN INFINITE SPACE ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 238 XXI. MR. BEDFORD AT LITTLESTONE ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 249 XXII. THE ASTONISHING COMMUNICATION OF MR. JULIUS WENDIGEE ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 271 XXIII. AN ABSTRACT OF THE SIX MESSAGES FIRST RECEIVED FROM MR. CAVOR ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 277 XXIV. THE NATURAL HISTORY OF THE SELENITES ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 289 XXV. THE GRAND LUNAR ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 316 XXVI. THE LAST MESSAGE CAVOR SENT TO THE EARTH ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 340 LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


"I was progressing in great Leaps and Bounds" Frontispiece "He gesticulated with his Hands and Arms" . To face page 6 "I looked back at his receding Figure" „ „ 11 "I sat across the Edge of the Manhole and looked down into the Black Interior" „ „ 54 "We watched intensely" „ „ 87 "I realised my Leap had been too Violent" „ „ 101 "Insects," murmured Cavor, "Insects" „ „ 130 "There the Thing was, looking at Us" „ „ 137 "Bedford," he whispered, "there's a sort of Light in front of Us" „ „ 177 "The nearer I struggled, the more awfully remote it seemed" „ „ 236 "They carried Him into Darkness" „ „ 292 The Grand Lunar „ „ 322


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1924.

The author died in 1946, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 70 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.


Last edited 2 months ago by EncycloPetey Wikisource Content is available under CC BY-SA 3.0 unless otherwise noted. PrivacyDesktop

See also Edit

References==

  1. ==Further reading==
    • ==Further reading==
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    • {{cite book | first=Robert | last=Heinlein | authorlink= | date=1980 | title=Expanded Universe | edition= | publisher=Ace Books | location=New York |
    • ==Further reading==
    • Template loop detected: Template:Cite book
    • Template loop detected: Template:Cite book
    • {{cite book | first=Robert | last=Heinlein | authorlink= | date=1980 | title=Expanded Universe | edition= | publisher=Ace Books | location=New York |
    • {{cite book | first=Robert | last=Heinlein | authorlink= | date=1980 | title=Expanded Universe | edition= | publisher=Ace Books | location=New York |
  2. H. G. Wells, "Preface", in Seven Famous Novels (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1934, p. vii). Wells considered this category of work, which in his oeuvre also includes The Time Machine, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds, The Food of the Gods, and In the Days of the Comet, to be "a class of writing which includes the Golden Ass of Apuleius, the True Histories of Lucian, Peter Schlemil and the story of Frankenstein . . . they do not aim to project a serious possibility; they aim indeed only at the same amount of conviction as one gets in a good gripping dream. They have to hold the reader to the end by art and illusion and not by proof and argument, and the moment he closes the cover and reflects he wakes up to their impossibility" (ibid.).
  3. The First Men in the Moon, Ch. 1.
  4. The First Men in the Moon, Ch. 3.
  5. The First Men in the Moon, Ch. 4.
  6. The First Men in the Moon, Ch. 10.
  7. The First Men in the Moon, Ch. 19. The unnamed narrator of The War of the Worlds experiences a similar sense of self-alienation.
  8. The First Men in the Moon, Ch. 24.
  9. The First Men in the Moon, Ch. 25.
  10. "Wells's work shows a persistent anti-religious bent, from the curate in War of the Worlds, a disgusting caricature, to favoring the idea of persecution and complete destruction of organised religion in The Shape of things to Come. One need not be a religious believer oneself to decry this bias as a serious flaw" (Dr. Robert Fields, "Sociological Themes in Science Fiction", chapter 4).
  11. 11.0 11.1 ==Further reading==
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    • {{cite book | first=Robert | last=Heinlein | authorlink= | date=1980 | title=Expanded Universe | edition= | publisher=Ace Books | location=New York |
  12. Template:Citation
  13. Robert Godwin, H.G. Wells The First Men in the Moon: the Story of the 1919 Film, Apogee Space Books, Template:ISBN
  14. Template:Cite news
  15. Template:Citation
  16. Robert Godwin, H.G. Wells The First Men in the Moon: the Story of the 1919 Film, Apogee Space Books, Template:ISBN
  17. Template:Cite news
  18. Template:Citation
  19. Robert Godwin, H.G. Wells The First Men in the Moon: the Story of the 1919 Film, Apogee Space Books, Template:ISBN
  20. Template:Cite news
  21. The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction
  22. An intimate of the heart and the heavens
  23. pp. 50–51 Crossley, Robert H.G. Wells Wildside Press LLC, 1986

References Edit

EditF acsimile of the original 1st edition" The


The Early Fiction of H.G. Wells: Fantasies of Science". Retrieved 31 January 2018. H. G. Wells, "Preface", in Seven Famous Novels (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1934, p. vii). Wells considered this category of work, which in his oeuvre also includes The Time Machine, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds, The Food of the Gods, and In the Days of the Comet, to be "a class of writing which includes the Golden Ass of Apuleius, the True Histories of Lucian, Peter Schlemil and the story of Frankenstein . . . they do not aim to project a serious possibility; they aim indeed only at the same amount of conviction as one gets in a good gripping dream. They have to hold the reader to the end by art and illusion and not by proof and argument, and the moment he closes the cover and reflects he wakes up to their impossibility" (ibid.). The First Men in the Moon, Ch. 1. The First Men in the Moon, Ch. 3. The First Men in the Moon, Ch. 4. The First Men in the Moon, Ch. 10. The First Men in the Moon, Ch. 19. The unnamed narrator of The War of the Worlds experiences a similar sense of self-alienation. The First Men in the Moon, Ch. 24. The First Men in the Moon, Ch. 25. "Wells's work shows a persistent anti-religious bent, from the curate in War of the Worlds, a disgusting caricature, to favoring the idea of persecution and complete destruction of organised religion in The Shape of things to Come. One need not be a religious believer oneself to decry this bias as a serious flaw" (Dr. Robert Fields, "Sociological Themes in Science Fiction", chapter 4). Stableford, Brian (1993). "Dystopias". In John Clute; Peter Nicholls. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2nd ed.). Orbit, London. pp. 360–362. ISBN 1-85723-124-4. Lefebvre, Thierry (2011), "A Trip to the Moon: A Composite Film", in Solomon, Matthew, Fantastic Voyages of the Cinematic Imagination: Georges Méliès's Trip to the Moon, Albany: State University of New York Press, pp. 50, 58, ISBN 9781438435817 Robert Godwin, H.G. Wells The First Men in the Moon: the Story of the 1919 Film, Apogee Space Books, ISBN 978-1926837-31-4 Stark, Sonja (18 January 2010). "The First Men in the Moon in 3-D". Times Union. Retrieved 13 February 2010. The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction An intimate of the heart and the heavens pp. 50–51 Crossley, Robert H.G. Wells Wildside Press LLC, 1986 External links

External linksEdit

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