Review of Reviews,  17 (1898), 389–96.

The Book of the Month. The Latest Apocalypse of the End of the World



Regular Feature, Abstract

Publications abstracted:

Wells 1895a Wells 1895b Wells 1895c Wells 1896 Wells 1897a Wells 1897b Wells 1898


Entropy, Extinction, Futurism, Imagination, Science Fiction, Natural Law, Extra-Terrestrial Life, War, Bacteriology, Natural Imperialism, Mathematics, Psychical Research, Narcotics, Degeneration

    Begins an overview of the nascent career of Herbert G Wells, a 'young and rising novelist, who has given more proof of original genius than any of his contemporaries', by reflecting that the 'probability that the human race will be frozen out of its present abode is a theme sufficiently appalling to stimulate the most sluggish imagination', although, as yet, the 'very horror of it has [...] served to warn off most speculators as to the future' (389). Suggests that 'Mr. Wells is a seer of gruesome visions. He spends his life imagining what would happen if one of the laws of Nature were altered just a little—with terrifying results'. Indeed, 'Stories work out in his brain as a kind of mathematical problem. If human nature under such conditions evolved such results, what results would be evolved if this, that, or the other condition were revolutionised?'. Praises Well's prolific output since 1895, but nevertheless insists that 'I leave out of account his book "The Island of Dr. Moreau", which ought never to have been written, and which Mr. Wells would consult his own reputation by withdrawing from circulation' (see RR1/13/4/14). (393) Observes that 'Mr. Wells must have had considerable experience of psychic phenomena. He is not a believer, I gather, in the spiritistic hypothesis. But many of his tales could not have been written had he not himself, asleep or awake, been conscious of the phenomena of the Borderland' (395), and comments 'Whether it is by the use of chloroform [...] or whether he is naturally so much of a psychic as to be able to visit those regions of which he gives us such weird suggestions I do not know' (395–96).

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