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The Sleeper Awakes [Paperback]

H. G. Wells , Patric Parrinder
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 26 2005 Penguin Classics
A troubled insomniac in 1890s England falls suddenly into a sleep-like trance, from which he does not awake for over two hundred years. During his centuries of slumber, however, investments are made that make him the richest and most powerful man on Earth. But when he comes out of his trance he is horrified to discover that the money accumulated in his name is being used to maintain a hierarchal society in which most are poor, and more than a third of all people are enslaved. Oppressed and uneducated, the masses cling desperately to one dream that the sleeper will awake, and lead them all to freedom.

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"Students of early science fiction will welcome the University of Nebraska Press's series Bison Frontiers of Imagination."—Times Literary Supplement
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

H.G. Wells was a professional writer and journalist, who published more than a hundred books, including novels, histories, essays and programmes for world regeneration. Wells's prophetic imagination was first displayed in pioneering works of science fiction, but later he became an apostle of socialism, science and progress. His controversial views on sexual equality and the shape of a truly developed nation remain directly relevant to our world today. He was, in Bertrand Russell's words, 'an important liberator of thought and action'. Patrick Parrinder has written on H.G. Wells, science fiction, James Joyce and the history of the English novel. Since 1986 he has been Professor of English at the University of Reading. Andy Sawyer is a Librarian at the University of Sheffield with a particular interest in science fiction.

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4.0 out of 5 stars Not A Wells Classic, But A Good Book May 12 2001
Format:Paperback
This isn't one of the most famous books in Well's canon, lacking the classic status awarded to books like War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, and The Invisible Man. The Sleeper Awakes is a good book, though not one on par with those works. It drags in some places, but is on the whole interesting for it's fairly unique (for the time; like many Wells novels, this has a central plotline that has been re-done by many a faceless SF author since.) Also, the vision of the future presented here is an interesting and slightly novel one, which Wells himself, in the introduction, admits to being one that will almost certainly never come to pass, which makes this book's warning not as clear as say, 1984's or Fahrenheit 451's, but is nevertheless notable. Thus, the novel is entertaining, and, in spots, fast-paced. Recommended for the Wells fan, newcomers to the father of science fiction should start elsewhere.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read; not his best Nov. 3 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
H.G. Well's look at the future is interesting, as we are the future he tries to image.
Graham wakes from a deep sleep 200 years in the future, in the 2090's; not far from where we are today. He finds himself the King of the World, due to a combination of his money (inheritances from rich relatives & friends and 200-years worth of compound interest). In a sense, he's become almost a Messiah-like figure to the people of the future, with them filing by his sleeping body. Those who rule his Fortune are not too happy to hear that he's awoken.
The story is both vague and detailed as Wells tries to imagine what the World will become. The vague sections are a bit slow as Wells tries to bring action to a place he cannot truly foresee.
In some instances he's gotten pretty close. There are moving sidewalks, windmills for energy, smoking has almost been eliminated, the Eiffel Tower still stands and he imagined a form of aerial combat.
I was surprised at the amount of racism in the book. Also, although he foresees Working Women, he sees them as flat-chested and without femininity. Education, for the most part, is taught by rote using hypnosis.
An interesting look at the future from a man who could only speculate on many of these issues. An interesting read.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Science fiction fans simply looking for an entertaining story will want to skip this book. Its speculations, with a couple of exceptions, are dated -- Wells admitted such only ten years after it was written. The socialist values it expounds make one wonder whether Fabian Wells would have ever been satisfied with capitalism no matter what it did. The characters, again as Wells admitted, are Everyman and an implausible businessman villain.
And yet Wells kept playing with this story over 21 years. It also was probably quite influential on a young Robert Heinlein, a Wells admirer. (It has moving roadways amongst other things.)
The story? A man wakes up from a two hundred year coma to find out he's the richest man in the world. The capitalists who run this world hope he'll play along with them, continue to let them run the world using his money. But Sleeper Graham has other ideas and becomes a Socialist messiah to the oppressed.
Students of science fiction's history will recognize a plot with a starting point similar to Edward Bellamy's _Looking Backward_ -- to which Wells gives a nod. They'll also be interested in the understandably wrong predictions about aerial warfare. Students of Wells will definately want to read this, one of his second-tier works.
This book is a particularly good edition because it features a useful afterword noting the many changes Wells made in this story. It was first published as _When the Sleeper Wakes_, an 1899 magazine serial. It was changed for the book publication of the same year and further changed for the 1910 and 1921 editions.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Edition for Students of Wells and SF History Dec 16 2003
By Randy Stafford - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Science fiction fans simply looking for an entertaining story will want to skip this book. Its speculations, with a couple of exceptions, are dated -- Wells admitted such only ten years after it was written. The socialist values it expounds make one wonder whether Fabian Wells would have ever been satisfied with capitalism no matter what it did. The characters, again as Wells admitted, are Everyman and an implausible businessman villain.

And yet Wells kept playing with this story over 21 years. It also was probably quite influential on a young Robert Heinlein, a Wells admirer. (It has moving roadways amongst other things.)

The story? A man wakes up from a two hundred year coma to find out he's the richest man in the world. The capitalists who run this world hope he'll play along with them, continue to let them run the world using his money. But Sleeper Graham has other ideas and becomes a Socialist messiah to the oppressed.

Students of science fiction's history will recognize a plot with a starting point similar to Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward: 2000-1887 -- to which Wells gives a nod. They'll also be interested in the understandably wrong predictions about aerial warfare. Students of Wells will definately want to read this, one of his second-tier works.

This book is a particularly good edition because it features a useful afterword noting the many changes Wells made in this story. It was first published as _When the Sleeper Wakes_, an 1899 magazine serial. It was changed for the book publication of the same year and further changed for the 1910 and 1921 editions.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sleeper Awakes - A True Classic May 6 2007
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
A deeply burdened insomniac in nineteenth-century Great Britain falls into a great trance for where he does not awaken for 203 years. When he awakens, Graham, as he is known, finds himself in a twisted alternate reality in where laborers (one-third of the population) are treated as scum, where the entire numerical system is now in dozens, and with a hierarchical government, power rests only in the hands of a small dictatorship known as the Grand Council. Also, money has piled up and has been secured to make Graham the most powerful man on the earth and in all of human history. When Graham wakes up, he is shocked to find that the suppressed people have been praying for the "Sleeper" to wake, but also that the Grand Council has been planning his murder. However, he is saved by a group of resistance, lead by a man named Ostrog, whose objective is to expel the Grand Council out of power. Eventually, the Council is brought down to its knees. When Graham notices that the people are still oppressed, he tries to make the world turn back to democracy, but Ostrog strongly disagrees. The tension builds up, until Ostrog makes the order that the Black Police (from South Africa) are to maintain the order in England and throughout Europe, coming in aeroplanes. Graham cannot believe that he has been betrayed, as Ostrog had escaped earlier. Graham, who has had some flight experience, decides to pilot the only plane left, and goes down fighting, with the rest of the world and all of humankind with an unforeseeable future. The Sleeper Awakes, by H.G. Wells, is an excellent science-fiction novel because of three main qualities: its revolutionary science-fiction, its suspense, and its action.

When Graham awakens in the twenty-second century, he is immediately overwhelmed by the changes in this time then from the old Victorian period. Horse-drawn carriages are obsolete, and sidewalks are moving platforms in which everyone travels on. Also, books no longer exist, and there are holograms that show dramas and interpretations of life instead. The numerical system as we know has now been replaced by a twelve-number single-digit system. H.G. Wells is a fantastic science-fiction writer, in the fact that he wrote of airplanes eleven years before one ever flew, and fifteen years before any fought in battle.

Suspense has a prominent role in the Sleeper Awakes. When Graham was introduced to a room inside the Grand Council building, he was stranded for several days without any news from the outside. However, he hears a noise from the roof spaces above, and thinks that he sees a shadow. Then, blood drops from above, and splatters onto the carpet. The reader is on the edge of his seat, with the urge to find more answers. Several men come through the roof space, and the resistance begins.

The Sleeper Awakes takes place in a twisted, alternate future, in which the lower class is now beginning to rise against the affluent members of the higher classes. When Graham is taken by a resistance group to a local hall, members of the red police (security forces of the Grand Council), a large battle occurs. Laborers everywhere are fighting in the name of the "Sleeper", and the Red Police are trying to recapture him. The fighting gets so out-of-control that an entire skyscraper falls over onto its side, creating a massive explosion. Another intense sequence of action occurs when Graham is fighting in his monoplane, where he fights against the whole Black Police, where he comes to his demise, instead of living out the rest of his life unaccustomed this new world.

In the course of four days, Graham discovers a brand new world completely alien to him and his time in the 1890's. Even the "Sleeper" was not enough to hold off his enemies, as his monoplane crashes into the cold ground of the earth. This story does, however, renew the word science-fiction. The greatest reason that this novel should be read is that H.G. Wells had basically started the science-fiction genre, and we continue to read his classics today. The Sleeper Awakes should be read due to this and because of its futuristic setting, its thrills, and its many skirmishes throughout. I rate this novel five stars out of five.

A. Chappell
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not A Wells Classic, But A Good Book May 12 2001
By Bill R. Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This isn't one of the most famous books in Well's canon, lacking the classic status awarded to books like War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, and The Invisible Man. The Sleeper Awakes is a good book, though not one on par with those works. It drags in some places, but is on the whole interesting for it's fairly unique (for the time; like many Wells novels, this has a central plotline that has been re-done by many a faceless SF author since.) Also, the vision of the future presented here is an interesting and slightly novel one, which Wells himself, in the introduction, admits to being one that will almost certainly never come to pass, which makes this book's warning not as clear as say, 1984's or Fahrenheit 451's, but is nevertheless notable. Thus, the novel is entertaining, and, in spots, fast-paced. Recommended for the Wells fan, newcomers to the father of science fiction should start elsewhere.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 Stars . . . Nuggets to be Found Oct. 31 2011
By Eric Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In the past year, I've torn through H.G. Wells books. His style is immensely readable, his vision prophetic, and his outlook cynical with a ray of hope. I love "The Island of Dr. Moreau," "The First Men in the Moon," and "War of the Worlds," all great storytelling mixed with strong themes. In "The Sleeper Awakes," also titled "When the Sleeper Awakes," we find a theme-heavy book that doesn't quite live up to his usual yarn-spinning. Nevertheless, it's worth the read for those who love Wells' work and/or dystopian literature.

The book introduces us to Graham, a man suffering from insomnia. We get a sly reference to the fact that the War of the Worlds has already occurred (and, indeed, it was the book written just before this one), and so there is a hint that man's struggles with extra-terrestrials now lead us back to man's struggle with man. In his quest for sleep, Graham ends up in experimental treatment that locks him in slumber for the next two centuries. When he awakes, he is in the year 2100 (if counting from the time Wells wrote the book). Art has given way to commerce. Education is about amusement. Technology has given new ways to hold down the masses, through the threat of aeroplanes. Religion and reverence are on the down-slide, and stock markets and traders are the new power-mongers. "For men who had lost their belief in God had still kept their faith in property, and wealth ruled a venial world."

Graham discovers that he is now the world's richest man, due to his interest-gaining bank funds, and he is master of the world. This seeming ascendance is challenged, though, by his own ignorance of the world he is now in, and by a puppet-master named Ostrog who believes in a new aristocracy in which "wealth now is power as it never was before," and "the common man now is a helpless unit." This is not the classless society Graham envisioned, and he sets out to find out more by exploring the streets of London and meeting those under his tenuous rule. He is driven, in particular, by his relationship with a young woman from the streets, one who speaks of a revolution.

When Wells uses dialogue and action, the story takes flight. When he lapses into long tours of the streets and the new order, he gets wordy and ponderous, but there are nuggets to be found. It's a cautionary tale. It's a visionary tale. He makes some strange racial remarks about "the negroes," and in the conclusion its a force of Ostrog's black men who threaten London. But Wells does point out: "Is it not an older sin, a wider sin? . . . These blacks have been under the rule of the white two hundred years. Is it not a race quarrel? The race sinned--the race pays."

"The Sleeper Awakes" is a precursor to such great dystopian visions as "Brave New World," "Fahrenheit 451," and "1984." In many ways, these stories mirror each other, and while "The Sleeper Awakes" is not as strong on the entertainment and storytelling, it is clearly a foundation for many novels that came later.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking Vintage Science Fiction March 5 2011
By Dr. Bojan Tunguz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
H. G. Wells is one of the pioneers of science fiction and probably one of the most influential authors of that genre. An argument can be made that almost any contemporary science fiction theme (alien invasion, time travel, biological manipulation, technology gone awry, dystopian future societies) can in one way or another be traced back to an H. G. Wells novel.

A big part of H. G. Wells' appeal, as is the case with all good science fiction, comes from the fact that the stories he wrote were not primarily (or even predominantly) designed to titillate with speculation of novel technologies, or space aliens, or any other sensationalist image. His stories explore many of out most fundamental desires and fears, and they all had a significant dose of social criticism. This is one of the main reasons why his stories are still read today and have for the most part aged remarkably well.

Nowhere is the fact of timelessness of Wells' fiction better illustrated than in "The Sleeper Awakes." This is a short novel about a nineteen century Englishman who falls in a deep sleep only to awake over two hundred years later. The World has changed beyond recognition, and "The Sleeper" finds himself in a remarkable predicament - he has become the owner of the entire planet. This state of affairs was made possible because no one really expected him to wake up, so for the most part his ownership of all the World's resources was thought only to be nominal. However, his awakening profoundly shakes this state of affairs, and he suddenly finds himself at the very center of revolutionary social upheavals and a struggle for the ultimate power. This struggle is the main focus of the larger part of the novel.

"The Sleeper Awakes" at a first sight seems to have some resemblance to Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving, but it is a much darker tale. (It is certainly a far cry from Woody Allen's ridiculous comedy adaptation "Sleeper"). Wells expects the future society on the one hand to be a very advanced and a highly desirable place to live, but it also has a much darker and more sinister side to it. This utopia/dystopia dichotomy is the source of tension in the novel, and it also provides very effective rationale for the plot advancement. The theme of sleeper has a lot of strong resonances with both Arthurian legends and the basic tenants of Christianity. It is to Wells' credit that he manages to tap into those subjects in a subtle way that its does not force itself on the reader. In fact, Wells' writing is overall of the very high quality. He was mindful to write good literature, and not just entertaining stories for mass consumption.

There are a few futuristic ideas in this novel that seem silly and naïve in retrospect, but they in no way detract from the main story. The reader should also be mindful of the fact that some of the attitudes that Wells exhibits in this novel might be considered bigoted today, but in this respect he was just a product of his own age. With these caveats in mind, "The Sleeper Awakes" is a very interesting and thought-provoking novel that should appeal to anyone who is interested in serious vintage science fiction.
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