Herbert George Wells was born in Bromley, Kent, a suburb of London, to alower-middle-class family. He attended London University and the Royal Collegeof Science where he studied zoology. One of his professors instilled in him abelief in social as well as biological evolution which Wells later cited as theimportant and influential aspect of his education. This is how it all began.
Maybe without this professor Wells wouldnt be the famous author he is today.
Most of Wells novels are science fiction and have a great deal of some kind ofhuman society theme, or Darwinism in mind. It is a theme that is seen in hismost famous science fiction writings. H.G. Wells seems to convey a sense ofDarwinism and change in the future of society in his major works. Wells has beencalled the father and Shakespeare of science fiction. He is best known today forhis great work in science fiction novels and short stories. He depicted storiesof chemical warfare, world wars, alien visitors and even atomic weapons in atime that most authors, or even people for that matter, were not thinking of thelike. His stories opened a door for future science fiction writers who followedthe trend that Wells wrote about. His most popular science fiction works includeThe Time Machine, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds, and The Island ofDoctor Moreau. His first novel, The Time Machine, was an immediate success. Bythe time the First World War had begun his style of writing and novels had madehim one of the most controversial and best-selling authors in his time. In thestory The Time Machine, Wells expresses his creativity with images of beauty,ugliness and great details. In this novel Wells explores what it would be liketo travel in this magnificent and beautiful machine. The criterion of theprophecy in this case is influenced by the theory of natural selection.
(Beresford, 424) He uses Darwins theory in the novel and relates it to themen living in the novel. The men are no longer struggling to survive, they haveall adapted and there is no termination of the weak. It had practically ceased.
His fascination with society in biological terms is also mentioned, ShowsWells horizon of sociobiological regression leading to cosmic extinction,simplified from Darwinism. (Beresford, 424) He took the idea from Darwin butinstead of making it survival of the fittest, the weak have already diedoff and only the fittest are left, which leads to the extinction. Hisfascination with Darwinism was one that had not been thought by many in thattime, because there were questions of ethics and religion. From The TimeMachine on, it was generally recognized that no writer had so completely or soperceptively taken Darwin to heart. (McConnell, 442) He wasnt the firstman to realize and acknowledge the importance of Darwins theory for thefuture of civilization, but he is said to be the first to assimilate that theoryinto his stories. Concerning society with the future, The Time Machine is saidto be seen as a prophecy of the effects of rampant industrialization on thatclass conflict that was already, in the nineteenth, century a social powderkeg. (McConnell, 438) Wells always touched upon the subject of society, thedestruction of it, and how it would become in the future due to this destructionand chaos. His view on society was that the classes would clash and ultimatelythey might become two races, mutually uncomprehending and murderouslydivided, (Suvin, 435) His predictions of future societies were all muchalike, war-torn class problems, much like what is seen now a days. The narratorof The Time Machine says of the Time Traveler that he saw in the growing pileof civilization only a foolish heaping that must inevitably fall back upon anddestroy its makers in the end. (McConnell, 439) This is another reference tosocietys survival of the fittest, as he depicts civilization tearing at eachother, and in the end, doing away with their creator. Not all of his predictionsand social clashes were horrid and horrendous with violence. In some of hisforetelling of what society would do, he recommended things that could be doneto avoid such things and maybe in the end reach some kind of peace ortogetherness. That the human race, thanks to its inherited prejudices andsuperstitions and its innate pigheadedness, is an endangered species; and thatmankind must learn-soon-to establish a state of worldwide cooperation by buryingits old hatreds and its ancient selfishness, or face extinction. (McConnell,439) Im not saying Wells was some kind of great prophet or a Nostradamus ofhis time, but it is something that sounds like a prediction for what is to comeand what must be done to avoid and/or overcome the differences. Wellspredictions were not only for the social classes, but also in the field ofwarfare weaponry and new innovations not yet seen or heard of in his time. Hewent as far as to describe the weapons used, and the inventions never imaginedby man. Among his predictions were the use of armored tanks in war. He even usedthe phrase atomic bomb before anyone was using it, and described in closedetail the power of the chain reaction explosions. The Island of Doctor Moreaumay well be the most famous novel written by H.G. Wells. It is also said to behis most systematic study of the evolutionary dilemma, (Bergonzi, 543 ) ashe complicates, once again, the evolutionary system. Most of the critics saidthe same thing about the novel, if not similarities. The meaning of the novelis found in Darwinism (Bergonzi, p.543) The island has a scientist by thename of Doctor Moreau and he changes the animals into new and almost human likeforms. It is like playing with nature and evolving a whole new species out ofwhat is already there on the island. Just like Charles Darwin came up with histheory of the unchanged and evolved animals on the Galapagos, H.G. Wells came upwith this island and the scientist there is evolving them on his own. It is alsosaid that the version of the island myth conveys a powerful and imaginativeresponse to the implications of Evolution. (Huntington, 445) which soundslike what I explained, that this is Wells way of interpreting his own evolutionin his science fiction world. He causes a sort of imbalance among the humans andsemi-humans his mad doctor has created on his island. The imbalance causes asense of threat of one of the species domination in the story, and causes apuzzling thought of evolution and ethics for the readers. Moreaus geniusis thwarted by society and so he preys on society, (Huntington, 446) The madDoctor Moreau is opposed and against the society that has evolved around him andthat he has been exposed to, so he seeks out to destroy it, by creating his ownevolved species. Doctor Moreau wants to play the creator and eliminator, andbring it together in his own survival of the fittest game. It reminds me of astory I read my freshman year in high school, about a man who lives on adeserted island, and the people who are stranded there, he hunts them for fun.
The common factor is theyre both trying to make their own little world withdifferent classes of species. Called one of Wells finest piece ofsustained imaginative writing (Beresford, 425 ), The War of the Worlds, isoften considered to be the story that most science fiction authors that cameafter Wells follow, or get their ideas from. Wells presents to us an image ofhuman society as the victim to aliens that are encountered by humans. The themeof the story has been said to be Physical destruction of society ordissolution of the social order. (Bergonzi, p.544) Wells continues on withhis Darwinian approach in this story, as it did with The Island of DoctorMoreau, with its details of violence and mutilation, as if society isevolving into some kind of violent species out to destroy itself. With thisdestruction of society leads the loss of order in all parts, especially socialdisorder and chaos. In the story The War of the Worlds, Wells describes indetails how a Martian will eat up a human being, and we read on in disgust. Hethen later cautions, I think that we should remember how repulsive ourcarnivorous habits would seem to an intelligent rabbit. (Huntington, 443)Hes telling us to think about ethically the meaning to even the most simplestevolutionary situation. He toys with how evolution has made humans the cream ofthe crop, and the top of the food chain. On the other hand, The War of theWorlds places humans in the middle position, not a at the top. He makes thehumans the predators of the lower forms, and the superior Martians are made outto be at the top in Wells evolutionary plans of his story. It is the scarysense that is there to make us think about and wonder what it would be like tobe dominated by another species, the way we dominate others. Wells seems to liketo tickle the mind with ethics. Even though I have not read a book by H.G.
Wells, from what I have read from the critics, I have come to the conclusionthat Wells seems to keep a central theme of Darwinism, and societies future. Thelittle excerpts I have been given to read, and the critics choice parts of hisstories give the examples of this theme. Wells lived in a time when most ofthose things were unimaginable, for no one had heard of most of the things hedescribed, let alone talked about such things, at least not to the public. Itwas a manner of writing which was not seen in his time, and raised questions ofethics and caused Wells to be a controversial author. His style lead the way forwhat is science fiction today.