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The World Set Free by H. G. Wells

The World Set Free (1914)

by H. G. Wells

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2911055,914 (3.51)1 / 9



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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Another astonishingly prescient book from Wells - this one not only anticipated the atomic bomb but a world war that was about to begin just a few months after the book was published. As a novel, it's a bit of a collage - almost like linked stories that bring the reader through the scientific discoveries that led to the making of the atomic bomb and descriptions of the world before and after. Like so many of Wells' novels from this period, there is a real tension between optimism and pessimism. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
Staggering. The vision and clarity with which he lays out the plot points of the 20th century border clairvoyance. I've never read anything more dead-on and captivating. ( )
  Victor_A_Davis | Sep 18, 2015 |
This is a kind of retro-future history, giving the great sweep of events leading to the Last World War (a nuclear one), the collapse of society, and the creation of a scientifically-organized utopia. It dips in and out of indviduals' perspectives in a way that's kind of neat: this inventor here, this soldier there, this king somewhere. Bits of it are interesting; the last segment, as the utopia gets put together is not. Wells's earlier novels of apocalypse-becoming-utopia (The War in the Air and The Sleeper Awakes) were much more circumspect about the details of the utopia, and I think that was the better move.

Folks will tell you that Wells was the first to depict nuclear bombs in fiction. He got it wrong (not sure if that's because he was wrong or contemporary science was), using the idea of the half life pretty strongly:

"What the earlier twentieth-century chemists called its half period was seventeen days; that is to say, it poured outpouring half of the huge store of energy in its great molecules in the space of seventeen days, the next seventeen days' emission was a half of that first period's outpouring, and so on. As with all radio-active substances this Carolinum, though every seventeen days its power is halved, though constantly it diminishes towards the imperceptible, is never entirely exhausted, and to this day the battle-fields and bomb-fields of that frantic time in human history are sprinkled with radiant matter and so centres of inconvenient rays...."

How cool is that (from a fictional perspective)-- bombs that go on forever in ever-diminishing amounts. It's a frightening, but fascinating image.

(For some reason this Bison Frontiers of the Imagination edition retitles The World Set Free to The Last War: A World Set Free. Ugh. Why? Who knows, because there's no editorial matter other than Greg Bear's introduction, which specifically rejects the retitling in a footnote.)
  Stevil2001 | Jan 31, 2014 |
I really did not enjoy reading this book. I like the classics most of the time. But The World Set Free was boring, slow moving, and uninteresting.
I'm not generally a fan of war novels, so that may have a small bit to do with my review. ( )
  pamkaye | Dec 7, 2013 |
Similar to Starship Troopers but written well before it. This is a story about what could be or could not be when governments decide to work together instead of against each other. Also an idea of what could have happened if World War 1 could have been avoided. ( )
  Kurt.Rocourt | Jun 20, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
H. G. Wellsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Aldiss, BrianIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bear, GregIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 080329820X, Paperback)

"From nearly two hundred centres, and every week added to their number, roared the unquenchable crimson conflagrations of the atomic bombs. The flimsy fabric of the world's credit had vanished, industry was completed disorganised, and every city, every thickly populated area was starving or trembled on the verge of starvation. Most of the capital cities of the world were burning; millions of people had already perished, and over great areas government was at an end."
The Last War erupts in Europe, rapidly escalating from bloody trench warfare and vicious aerial duels into a world-consuming, atomic holocaust. Paris is engulfed by an atomic maelstrom, Berlin is an ever-flaming crater, the cold waters of the North Sea roar past Dutch dikes and sweep across the Low Countries. Moscow, Chicago, Tokyo, London, and hundreds of other cities become radioactive wastelands. Governments topple, age-old cultural legacies are destroyed, and the stage is set for a new social and political order.
The Last War is H. G. Wells's chilling and prophetic tale of a world gone mad with atomic weapons and of the rebirth of human-kind from the rubble. Written long before the atomic age, Wells's novel is a riveting and intelligent history of the future that discusses for the first time the horrors of the atomic bomb, offering a startling vision of humanity purged by a catastrophic atomic war.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:23 -0400)

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THE WORLD SET FREE was written in 1913 and published early in 1914, and it is the latest of a series of three fantasias of possibility, stories which all turn on the possible developments in the future of some contemporary force or group of forces.

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Average: (3.51)
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Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400100100, 1400110831

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