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The Present Judged by the Future

Abstract

THIS is a profoundly interesting and suggestive book by a very remarkable man. Mr. Wells was educated at the Royal College of Science; he has a thorough knowledge of, and considerable training in, the great branches of science—physics, chemistry, astronomy, geology and biology. This course of study operated, in the case of Mr. Wells, upon a mind naturally gifted with an extraordinarily vivid imagination and the aptitude for true literary art. In one of his latest works, “Love and Mr. Lewisham,” Mr. Wells has told us the story of the struggle for life of a South Kensington student, and for the first time given the Royal College of Science the dignity of literary recognition. But it is by his audacious and fascinating “imaginings” as to the arrival on our planet of the inhabitants of Mars, the strange evolution and changes in the nature of men and the earth's surface as seen a million years hence, the morphology and habits of the inhabitants of the moon, the nocturnal freezing and solidification of its atmosphere, and as to other such topics that Mr. H. G. Wells is best known. The really wonderful range of knowledge shown in these stories, the scientific accuracy of the abundant details, the absolute restraint of the weird histories recounted, within the limits of what scientific criticism must admit as possible—nay, even probable, given the one initial miracle of anyone having and recording experiences of such things—lend a special charm to Mr. Wells' writings wanting in those of all other masters of this kind of literary craft from Swift to Jules Verne. One of his shorter stories, “The Star”—calmly recording in the words of a survivor the approach and passage of a huge meteor which causes the ocean to sweep the land-surface of the earth in all parts to a depth of two hundred feet—is written with such faithful adherence to scientific possibility and such convincing art in narrative that I, for one, am haunted by the conviction that the thing has occurred in past epochs more than once, and may at any time occur again.

Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress upon Human Life and Thought.

H. G.

Wells

By. Pp. 318. (London: Chapman and Hall. Ltd., 1902.) Price 7s. 6d.

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LANKESTER, E. The Present Judged by the Future . Nature 65, iii–v (1902). https://doi.org/10.1038/0651689iiia0

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