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The First Men in the Moon by H. G. Wells

The First Men in the Moon (1901)

by H. G. Wells

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    A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (artturnerjr)
    artturnerjr: Two early 20th century works of speculation on extraterrestrial life from two of the great unfettered imaginations of English-language literature.

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Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
I don't believe I have ever read H.G. Wells work before, though I grew up with the original War of the Worlds movie on heavy replay. I think this is a case where I can say I read a classic work and I am grateful that it was a quick read. I found it curious how Wells got some details right, like the lack of gravity in space, even as his moon is populated by verdant flora during the daytime and subterranean bug-like aliens. The colonialism aspect of it all made me cringe but the ending was not unsatisfying in this regard. ( )
  ladycato | May 11, 2016 |
Published in 1901, this book relates the story of two men who figure out how to get to the moon. It's mostly preposterous but given the time it was written in, it must have been a fun read. ( )
  Oodles | Feb 16, 2016 |
Finding himself nearly bankrupt after a failed business venture, Mr. Bedford retreats to a cottage in the English coastal town of Lympne. There, he intends to write a play that he hopes to sell and thus, restore his financial position.

However, Bedford’s writing sessions are frequently interrupted by a peculiar and apparently self-absorbed little man whose daily perambulations bring him past Bedford’s window. This would not be a problem except that he utters a loud and vexing buzzing sound as he passes.

After a few incidents of this, Bedford decides to confront the man, who introduces himself as a scientist named Cavor. He is surprised to hear that he actually makes this bizarre buzzing noise as he walks and apologizes to Bedford. During their conversation, Cavor reveals that he is working on an experiment to create a gravity-defying material.

A few days later, during one of Cavor’s daily excursions, his home laboratory explodes, nearly leveling his house and damaging neighboring properties. Yet, rather than lamenting it as a disaster, Cavor realizes that he has found accidental success in the creation of Cavorite.

The two men then construct a massive glass sphere lined with Cavorite—leaving several openings for windows—and decide to literally float from the Earth’s surface to the moon. An airtight manhole cover becomes their airlock. Maneuvering is handled by the use of blinds covering the windows. Once in space, opening the blinds over a window facing Earth or the moon causes the sphere to succumb to the gravitational pull of one or the other body.

Their journey to Earth’s satellite proceeds without incident and eventually, Cavor and Bedford venture out onto the moon’s surface to find that while thin, the air is breathable. They encounter snow and a stunning variety of flora, some of which is edible, but with amusing side effects. During the day, the sun’s heat is nearly unbearable; even worse is the night’s insufferable cold.

Eventually, the two men encounter enormous animals they decide to call mooncalves, which are tended to by herdsmen that resemble bipedal insects with massive craniums. Cavor and Bedford refer to them as Selenites. Eventually, the two men from Earth reveal themselves to the Selenites. As a result, they are introduced to a diverse society thriving beneath the moon’s surface…

…but will the first contact between humans and Selenites end in amity or utter disaster?

The First Men in the Moon (notice it’s “in” not “on” the moon) was published in 1901. By then, scientific knowledge about space and the moon was fairly advanced—the fact that space is a vacuum, the fact that the moon and the Earth are comprised of the same elements, and the fact that the moon’s gravity is a fraction of Earth’s—but obviously there were many unknowns.

Thus, if you can ignore the fact that two chaps are bounding across the lunar surface clad only in tweed jackets and golf knickers, then you’ll probably enjoy this preposterous but fantastic adventure by the legendary H.G. Wells. ( )
  pgiunta | Jan 22, 2016 |
Very early sci-fi - reflecting the era & world-views of its times.
Read Dec 2006 ( )
  mbmackay | Dec 6, 2015 |
Mr Bedford's life isn't going as he planned and, after losing the majority of his money in ill-advised investments and ventures, he moves to the quiet village of Lympne so he can work on writing a play in peace. His productivity is short lived and Bedford soon meets an eccentric inventor called Mr Carvor. The two become fast friends and Bedford is quickly caught up in Cavor's research to create a substance that negates the pull of gravity!

Cavorite, as it is called, is not only possible, but can be produced! The two form a plan to use the substance on a ship and set their sights on exploring the most isolated place mankind is able to reach - the Moon. Expecting the satellite to be barren and desolate, the two are unprepared for what they find there. The Moon is teeming with life and is controlled utterly by the Selenites! Their race is strange and polymorphic; inventive and efficient. The Selenites are as amazed at finding Bedford and Cavor as the pair are at finding an alien race, and are loath to let them travel the Moon's surface freely . . .

The Good
The First Men in the Moon was on of my favourite stories when I was growing up and rereading the book was very nostalgic! It was as imaginative and gripping as I remembered and I found the book extremely difficult to put down! It's a fast read, being full of twists, turns and unlikely events that made it very hard to predict.

Wells has also managed to capture a very sincere look at British gentility and I thought the book read almost like a period piece for the early 1900's. British culture and politeness was in full swing and I really enjoyed reading about how the characters employed this in their thought processes and as justifications for their actions.

The descriptions of the Moon itself is also extremely interesting and fun to read about, being completely novel. Wells' concept of a completely hollow world is something that not many authors have explored so thoroughly and he has really gone all out in explaining how such a world can function and support life.

The Bad
I have very little to fault with The First Men in the Moon, and found it to be aptly paced and gripping!

My Thoughts
Many people consider the The First Men in the Moon as classic work of science fiction and I'm inclined to agree. It's extremely imaginative, enjoyable to read and will stay with you for a long time after you've finished it and put it to one side. What's also good about the book is it's age and it's now in the public domain. This means that there are dozens of free (or extremely cheap) versions of the novel available on retailers like Amazon so there's absolutely no excuse to neglect reading it! ( )
  TaylorPDavidson | Nov 1, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
H. G. Wellsprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lake, DavidEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ley, WillyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lowndes, Robert A.W.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McLean, StevenNotessecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mieville, ChinaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wells, FrankIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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As I sit down to write here amidst the shadows of vineleaves under the blue sky of southern Italy it comes to me with a certain quality of astonishment that my participation in these amazing adventures of Mr. Cavor was, after all, the outcome of the purest accident.
So utterly at variance is destiny with all the little plans of men.
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This is the main work for The First Men in the Moon by H. G. Wells. It should not be combined with any abridgement, adaptation, omnibus containing additional works, etc.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141441089, Paperback)

When penniless businessman Mr. Bedford retreats to the Kent coast to write a play, he meets by chance the brilliant Dr. Cavor, an absentminded scientist on the brink of developing a material that blocks gravity. Cavor soon succeeds in his experiments, only to tell a stunned Bedford that the invention makes possible one of the oldest dreams of humanity: a journey to the moon. With Bedford motivated by money, and Cavor by the desire for knowledge, the two embark on the expedition. But neither are prepared for what they find—a world of freezing nights, boiling days, and sinister alien life, in which they may be trapped forever.

First time in Penguin Classics
Includes a newly established text, a full biographical essay on Wells, suggestions for further reading, and detailed notes


(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:28 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"When penniless businessman Mr Bedford retreats to the Kent coast to write a play, he meets by chance the brilliant Dr Cavor, an absent-minded scientist on the brink of developing a material that blocks gravity. Cavor soon succeeds in his experiments, only to tell a stunned Bedford the invention makes possible one of the oldest dreams of humanity: a journey to the moon. With Bedford motivated by money and Cavor by the desire for knowledge, the two embark on the expedition. But neither are prepared for what they find - a world of freezing nights, boiling days and sinister alien life, on which they may be trapped forever."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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An edition of this book was published by McFarland.

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