H.G. Wells drawing
Inside Cover of my Ace Edition

I’m not sure why this drawing is printed on the inside cover of my H.G. Wells book. It looks like strange tank my sons would have drawn when they were kids. The weapons vehicle that he described most in this book was a helicopter like thing.

In the immortal words of “Men on Books,” hated it!

“Hated it” is too much, really. I just never got into it. I’m not a big fan of H.G. Wells at all. His books are filled with descriptions that never capture my imagination. His narrative follows the action and scene more than the feelings and motives of the character. I’m not saying they’re bad books. My boys and my husband love them. They just aren’t my cup of tea, I guess.

The part I found so strange was that Graham never seemed to understand that he was being used by both sides. He had slept for two-hundred years and by some strange sequence of events he actually hadn’t set in motion, he awoke to be the “owner” of more than half the world. Money had been invested in his name while he slept and had multiplied. Since he never died, only slept, when he awoke all that money went to him.

But how would anyone expect him to manage things after being out of the loop that long. He didn’t know anything. So much had changed. You could say that human nature hadn’t changed in that amount of time. He could have used his knowledge of humanity to get up to speed and manage well, but he didn’t have much when he went to sleep. He was just your average Joe, not a leader of men. I just didn’t get it.

Maybe I’m missing something. This is one of those times that I’d love to hear other people’s take on this book. I did a quick search for commentary but didn’t find much.

There were things I did enjoy in the book, though.

He described television, in 1899. “It was exactly like the reality viewed through an inverted opera glass and heard through a long tube.”

And “He clung to his anger – because he was afraid of Fear.”

Ah, yes, I know the feeling and I’m sure it’s what drives many people throughout the ages. It’s also something others use to gather crowds of followers and start wars. Charismatic leaders use people’s fear and say things like, “Those are the people that are ruining things! We must destroy them!” I used to think that didn’t happen often but I’m starting to see I was very wrong. It’s happening again, right now.

“You will be expected to say something,” said Ostrog. “Not what you used to call a Speech, but what our people call a Word – just one sentence, six or seven words. Something formal. If I might suggest – ‘I have awakened and my heart is with you.’ That is the sort of thing they want.”

You mean a Tweet? That seems to be all anyone wants to hear from our leaders these days. Don’t give me whole ideas and thoughts. A simple one liner that I can interpret to mean whatever I want and can easily re-tweet or share.

“Thence, too, flashed the world-wide messages, the falsehoods of the news-tellers, the chargers of the telephonic machines that had replaced the newspapers of the past.”

He called them “babble machines.” We call it tv news and social media.

“I want reality not realism.”

Reality: The quality or state of being actual or true.

And

Realism: An inclination toward literal truth and pragmatism.

Reality is the physical world you live in. Realism is the book or movie about it. I agree with Graham. I’d like more reality and less realism. I’d like to live and breathe in the actual world, not see it on tv or read about in in books. Sometimes, that is. If I could see reality through my screen or in print, instead of someone else’s interpretation of reality, that would be nice.

By the way, I love this old, mass-produced book by Ace Books, probably published in the early 70’s. It has an ad for cigarettes in the middle, and originally sold for 75 cents.

When was the last time you saw an ad for cigarettes in your book?

Yes, there were some archaic and racist ways of thinking in this book. There were references to the “yellow peril” and “negros.” Socialism was a main theme, or really the lack of socialism. Graham had hopes for bright Socialist future, one that Marx promised moving through Capitalism would bring, but he found something very different. I’m sure someone out there has written much about that.

Old sci-fi and dystopian fiction is interesting because it sheds light on where creative people believed the world was headed. Sometimes they get so close and then so far away from where history takes us. This one wasn’t one of my favorites, but it wasn’t a waste of time. If I had infinite time, I’d go back and read it again after I read a few other books. A better grasp on H.G. Well’s politics would be helpful.

Go back to my first post about this book, “When the Sleeper Wakes: New Read” You’ll find links to my other posts there as well.