- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (Sept. 27 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780141441085
- ISBN-13: 978-0141441085
- ASIN: 0141441089
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.5 x 19.8 cm
- Shipping Weight: 141 g
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,487,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The First Men in the Moon Paperback – Sep 27 2005
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“Written with astonishing animation and lucidity.” —G. K. Chesterton
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'.
China Mieville has won the Arthur C. Clarke and British Fantasy Awards for his science fiction.
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.
Steven McLean is Secretary of the H.G. Wells Society. He recently completed his PhD on H.G. Wells at the University of Sheffield.
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The moon they discover is not barren; in daylight, a bevy of plants emerge from the ground only to wither and die as the lunar night returns. When the explorers lose their way, they are captured and taken underground. While Cavor wants to communicate with the Selenites, as he immediately dubs the lunar inhabitants, Bedford is more concerned with escape and eventually effects just that, having found the moon dwellers easy prey to his strong, earthgrown muscles. The two men search for the sphere, but Bedford is forced to escape the moon alone after learning that Cavor has been captured and presumably killed. Bedford returns to earth, tells his story to some incredulous beach dwellers, and then finds the sphere hijacked by a young boy (who flies off and is never heard from again). Thus, he has no way of returning to the moon, nor does he have the knowledge required to make more Cavorite. A short time later, Bedford is amazed to learn that Cavor is not dead and is in fact sending radio signals from the moon to the earth. The rest of the novel relates the story of Cavor's stay on the moon, culminating in a description of his interview with the Grand Lunar. In lunar society, each individual is assigned a certain job and is trained and even surgically altered to do that job and nothing else. Cavor's description of earthly society is a revelation to the lunar inhabitants; through his words, Wells seems to point out some of the follies of mankind, particularly war. Thus, the book ends on sort of a philosophical note, and one has to imagine that Cavor's speech reflects some of Wells' own views about humankind.
All in all, the book is interesting, well-paced, and enjoyable. The originality of Wells' idea is striking--rather than propel man to the moon by huge cannon or the like, he employs antigravity as a free, highly effective means to, in essence, repel the sphere from the earth. Of course, Wells' moon is a far cry from the moon as we now know it, but it does seem to fit well into the framework of thinking at the time, at least insomuch as Wells describes those contemporary scientific ideas. Though not the most recognized of his books, The First Men in the Moon may be the most original and visionary science fiction novel penned by this pioneering author.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
"The First Men in the Moon" suffers from its now-known lack of accuracy in details regarding the moon, but that makes it no less enjoyable. In fact, this is one of the more carefree and adventurous of Wells' books. From the moment Mr. Bedford encounters an inventor named Cavor to the moment they leave earth's atmosphere to the scenes in which they battle Selenites in the craters of the moon, we are pulled along in this surprisingly fast-paced, funny, and creative tale. And, though some details are now outdated, there are quite a few that proved remarkable accurate, considering men did not land on the moon for nearly seven decades after this book was penned.
I loved Wells' ideas with the fauna, mooncalves, and social systems within the Selenite colonies. He brings great energy and fun to this story. Near the end, he proves his prophetic abilities when he says, "All about me . . . a leathery noise like the rustling of beetle wings, and a great bleating and twittering." Seems he even predicted Twitter. Regarding a book as serious as "War of the Worlds," I would never make such a wisecrack, but "The First Men in the Moon" is a book worth a few hours of fun, adventure, and a few smiles along the way. Only in its final pages does Wells give us a characteristic caution, and one with a touch of sad irony.
First, there's Mr. Bedford, who has no scientific training and mooches a ride to the moon with Mr. Cavor, where he plots all his business ideas and bludgeons scores of moon people to death with a solid gold crowbar. He goes home, a stupid little kid accidentally flies off in the Cavorite sphere, and that's that. Good times. Convenient how he, against the extremely long odds mentioned by the narrator, not only gets back to earth, but back to England.
Next, there's Mr. Cavor, who gets left on the moon more or less out of necessity, and perhaps by his own choice. The Selenites track him down, and begin to communicate with him. How inconsiderate of Mr. Cavor to make them all learn English instead of him learning their language, especially since they only have one language globally. Here we get into the book's social commentary, which Wells was always big on but which posterity has forgotten in favor of his science fiction elements. Is it truly by accident that Cavor mentions that he's the only way humans can get back to the moon, and that he fails to send earth his formula for Cavorite? Or is he conveniently trying to keep the indigenous peoples from being trampled down by the earth's world powers? Plus we have the Selenites' interesting social structure, like communism, to the extreme.
Reading this book for the first time in the twenty-first century, one's thoughts go like this: "Hey, Wells made some pretty decent predictions about helium and the moon...well, except for the moon plants...and the giant moon cows...and the moon ant people. Never mind."
Wells was a great writer, though, and this story is engaging and, early on, humorous. Seems like he was trying to outdo Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon and its sequel. The First Men in the Moon is over the top in this day and age, maybe, but in 1900 nobody knew any better. Well done, sir.
The plot of the novel sees an inventor (Cavor) and struggling playwright (Bedford) travel to the moon after the inventor's discovery. Stranded, they encounter the inhabitants of the moon. Bedford, finds their intentions to be hostile despite Cavor reluctantly disagreeing. Tyring to escape from the moon, Cavor again falls into the custody of the moon people. Cavor is left behind but far from forgotten.
Though Bedford is the main character, Cavor shines as the mouthpiece of H.G. Wells' social views. Many of Wells' observations are still appropriate today. The final chapters seem to run too long, and may not be entirely necessary. At the point they are placed in the book, they add little to the plot.