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The Sleeper Awakes Paperback – Apr 25 2006

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New edition (April 25 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141441062
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141441061
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 222 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #571,950 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

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

From the Back Cover

The Sleeper Awakes is H. G. Well's wildly imaginative story of London in the twenty-second century and the man who by accident becomes owner and master of the world. In 1897 a Victorian gentleman falls into a sleep from which he cannot be waked. During his two centuries of slumber he becomes the Sleeper, the most well known and powerful person in the world. All property is bequeathed to the Sleeper to be administered by a Council on his behalf. The common people, increasingly oppressed, view the Sleeper as a mythical liberator whose awakening will free them from misery.

The Sleeper awakes in 2100 to a futuristic London adorned with wondrous technological trappings yet staggering under social injustice and escalating unrest. His awakening sends shock waves throughout London, from the highest meetings of the Council to the workers laboring in factories in the bowels of the city. Daring rescues and villainous treachery abound as workers and capitalists fight desperately for control of the Sleeper. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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: HASH(0x99a8dc9c) out of 5 stars 11 reviews
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99aad1c8) 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.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99bd28a0) 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
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99bb3300) 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.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99d7657c) 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.
HASH(0x99b2aa50) out of 5 stars What happens when you oversleep by 200 years June 3 2016
By BOB - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
H.G. Wells’ ‘When the Sleeper Wakes’ is one of his ‘scientific romances’ (he hated the American term ‘science fiction’) that I first read when I was fourteen. When I was first reading Wells, a friend recommended this novel that I had never heard of and gave me his Ace paperback copy of it (with a cover price of .40). While I liked the concept quite a bit, I found the writing a bit turgid and, at that age, could not understand how a man, simply by sleeping for 200 years, could wake up to find himself ‘master of the world’. Obviously, I did not understand compound interest or trust funds. Almost 50 years later, I have re-read it and it makes a bit more sense to me how this man become ‘master of the world’ although there are still aspects of the conception that seem patched together. While it has more detractors and is less highly regarded than other classics such as ‘The Time Machine’ and ‘The War of the Worlds’, I still remain fascinated by it bizarre vision of the future.

Graham is a man with a very severe case of insomnia. A stranger befriends him and takes him for food and shelter. He leaves him with his head in his hands in a quiet room, returns shortly afterward and finds him in the same state of ‘cataleptic rigor’, until he sinks into a trance, actually a coma that lasts for 203 years, during which time his wealthy cousin established a trust fund that became a source for funding great amounts contributed by generations of investors. He wakes up and finds he is in the care of a White Council that has been managing his fund for many years. Shortly after he is discovered awake and resuscitated enough to regain some strength back, he is persuaded to resign himself to recuperating in a state of captivity.

He finds himself at the center of a civil war that has erupted upon the rumors of his awakening when a member of the opposing force, led by the government official Ostrog, rescues/abducts him and he ends up running for his life and losing himself in the warring crowds. With his identity unknown, he learns a distorted version of what happened from an old man in the streets who becomes increasingly skeptical as Graham displays his total ignorance. Graham extricates himself from the old man but becomes recaptured by Ostrog’s forces.

What he is told is that the White Council had planned to kill him and use a fake ‘Graham’ in order to maintain their power. They obviously didn’t prepare for the sleeper actually waking. He meets Ostrog, an aging man who is nevertheless in fine physical condition and who exhibits a sharp political mind. Ostrog explains that the White Council has been overthrown and all of its members killed. He and his other caretakers treat Graham with politeness and meet all of his material needs, even suggesting that he avail himself of female company from one of their ‘pleasure cities’. What Graham wants is to get out of his cloistered quarters and explore this new world of which he is the accidental ruler. He is fascinated with the aeroplane which, when Wells first published the story in 1899, preceded the Wright Brothers flight by four years. He asks to be taken up in one and explore the sky. His wish is granted and he feels exhilarated by his flying lessons and his flights high into the sky, from which he can not only see the streets of London but the geographical shape of the country as well as France across the Channel. When he is in the air he feels free and removed of the strangeness of this bizarre world.

Among the technological advances, aside from the aeroplane, the new world also contains giant “Babble Machines”, televisions that spout nonsense, the only news the public can access. These actually qualify as “idiot boxes”, to use the derogatory term that was once used to describe TV. Just as with ‘Fahrenheit 451’, there are no printed books. Pleasure cities are available for those that can afford them i.e. centers of all kinds of sensual pleasures—circuses, brothels, gambling. Another institution that is provided for those who can afford them is the Euthanasy, the assisted suicide parlors of which one can avail himself. Those without excess wealth have to pay into a plan which resembles Social Security but which might pay for a trip to a pleasure city and a trip to the Euthanasy. These are the elements of the masses of the 22nd century. One of the pleasures of reading Wells is seeing how he viewed the future and its technology, usually close to being on target for something that eventually, at least conceptually, has become fact.

A woman named Helen, Ostrog’s niece, confides in him that she is part of a subversive force within Ostrog’s, plotting a counterrevolution and restoring power to the people. Graham learns that the laboring masses are still slaves, despite the party line proclaiming freedom and prosperity as explained to him. Graham, a committed socialist in his earlier life, is appalled at the treatment of the workers. He learns that the new revolution is underway. He refuses to wait it out on the sidelines, grabs controls of an aeroplane and sets off in pursuit of the fleeing Ostrog, who has summoned a “Black Army”, black men from South Africa, to provide reinforcements for suppressing the revolt. Racist undertones are evident in Graham’s repulsion at the thought of white races being subdued and controlled by blacks. I do not know to what extent Wells shared Graham’s attitudes. Apparently, Wells expressed his feeling that Ostrog’s form of rule was more workable and realistic than the society that Graham was advocating. Graham’s fate is fairly clear as he takes on a fleet of aeroplanes in an aerial dogfight and is last seen in his plane plunging to the ground. Whether Ostrog’s forces or the counterrevolutionary forces prevailed is never disclosed. I am reminded of Pete Townshend’s lyric: “Meet the new boss/Same as the old boss.”

‘When the Sleeper Wakes’ is a fascinating, yet flawed, work of speculative fantasy with which Wells himself was so dissatisfied that he issued the revision of the original 1899 story in 1910 titled ‘The Sleeper Awakes.’ Both versions predated by several decades ‘Brave New World,’ ‘1984’, ‘Fahrenheit 451’ and virtually all 20th and 21st century dystopian fiction. Wells may not have invented dystopia but he is certainly one of its parents and, just as he did with almost all the other types of science fiction, he created a template that has influenced how it has been portrayed by all of its subsequent practitioners.


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