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 The numerical system as we know has now been replaced by a twelve-number single-digit system.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.