Wednesday, May 07, 2008

9. A Story of Days to Come by H.G. Wells

A Story of Days to Come pictureThis is a short (as many of his novels are) H.G. Wells novel that I found somewhere while traveling. It has a hilariously wrong yet accurate cover of a man and woman fighting off a dog in some ruins. It's wrong because though this scene actually happened, the picture looks like a Vallejo-esque barbaric fantasy. In the book, it is two wimpy future city-dwellers who, dissatisfied with modern life, make out for the country. At one point, they do get attacked by dogs, but the scene emphasizes how hopelessly unprepared they are for life outside of the city. I really should have scanned that cover, but I left it in the free bookshelf in the laundry room of my mom's apartment. Somebody took it so maybe it got read again, which would make it worth it.

The plot follows a young couple who fall in love. The woman had been promised to a rich but unattractive industrialist, but she is in love with the idealistic young man and chooses him instead. The industrialist goes about ruining the young man. It takes place in a future where the countryside has been almost entirely abandoned by humans. Agriculture and fuels are produced by automatic machines and everyone lives in vast cities, with an extreme social and economic hierarchy. The story is a romance but also a condemnation of man's separation from nature and the skills of survival. It is also an opportunity for Wells to do all kinds of interesting speculation on technology, the future and how it will affect human society.

It's a fun, quick read, with some crazy ideas. Wells was a man of his time but beyond it as well. The class structures in the book are strongly Victorian but still don't seem wildly off (though one could argue that nothing has really changed for us since the Victorian age in terms of class). The tech is much farther off course, though much more the fun for it. One cool conception he had is a giant ring of moving platforms inside the city. The rings on the inside and outside move at 5 miles per hour. Each consecutive inner ring moves at 5 mph faster so that by the time you get to the middlemost ring, you are moving at 70 miles per hour. You can step from ring to ring quite easily because the difference between each ring is easily manageable, thus allowing you to move short or long distances quite quickly.

H.G. Wells is as cool as Evil Spock:

5 comments:

Jarrett said...

you're continuing to inspire me to move through HGW.

And I am pretty sure you can find rules that he created for war games using tin soldiers. I knew he was into war games, but had not seen this picture. I felt less dorky about loving war games myself, knowing that Wells himself was into them, but I think that if I had mentioned it to most people they would have said, "HG who?"

Buzby said...

HGW is a rock star. I read War of the Worlds again recently and couldn't get over how cool the book is.

Olman Feelyus said...

All this talk is making me think I should probably read a biography of Wells. Anybody know a good one?

His game is called Little Wars and it is in the public domain today. Here is a version at Project Gutenberg:

http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/gutbook/lookup?num=3691

Doc said...

I've not read this one. Sounds interesting. The moving walkway idea was reprised by Robert Heinlein in "The Roads Must Roll." If you are too lazy to read the short story, you can hear the radio drama of it at: http://porousmind.net/otr/dimx. (Look for episode 22 in the Dimension X list).

I searched Google for an image of the cover you were talking about. No luck yet. Sounds funny.

Doc said...

Want a laugh. Look at this: http://nuncscio.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/the-time-machine1.jpg. I found it while looking for that old cover you mentioned.