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The First Men in the Moon (1901)

by H. G. Wells

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,092395,921 (3.63)92
'As we saw it first it was the wildest and most desolate of scenes. We were in an enormous amphitheatre, a vast circular plain, the floor of the giant crater. Its cliff-like wall closed us in on every side¿' Thanks to the discovery of an anti-gravity metal, Cavorite, two Victorian Englishman decide to tackle the most prestigious goal - space travel. They construct a sphere that will ultimately take them to the moon. On landing, they encounter what seems like an utterly barren landscape but they soon find signs that the planet was once very much alive. Then they hear curious hammering sounds from beneath the surface, and come face to face with the Selenites, a race of insect-like aliens living in a rigidly organised hive society.… (more)
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» See also 92 mentions

English (37)  Danish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (39)
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
While i admit 'War of the Worlds' is probably Well's best. This is my favorite of his stories that i've read so far. The only downside is that after what seems like a fitting climax there are still a few chapters to go. But if i just keep thinking 'Epilogue' in my head i can still enjoy them :) . ( )
  wreade1872 | Nov 28, 2021 |
https://nwhyte.livejournal.com/3381056.html

One of H.G. Wells' famous novels which I had somehow never read before. There are several interesting points to it.

First, the narrator, Bedford, is thoroughly imperialist and sees the Moon as a new Africa to exploit (and get his name all over it). But he's also clearly a very unpleasant chap, and I don't think it's too much to see Wells mocking imperialism as simply answering the wrong questions, once Bedford and Cavor get to the Moon and discover that it just doesn't really compute.

Second, Cavor is a classic absent-minded scientist, but a rather early example of the type. He is exploited by Bedford and then by the Selenites, having made a great discovery and then not really applied it very practically.

Third, the moon itself is a bit of a disappointment for today's reader; I think Wells was trying for somewhere between alien and incomprehensible, but to be honest it ends up as the prototype of a pulp alien planet (with a bit of preaching about the perfect society). No doubt it seemed fresher to readers in 1901. He would have known perfectly well that the Moon has no atmosphere.

Fourth, Wells is rather disappointing in the way he often reaches for comic yokels - Cavor's assistants in the early chapters, who are seriously injured in an explosion, and the boy who is carried away by the capsule at the end, are simply played for laughs; no empathy is expected of the reader.

Fifth, there are a couple of lovely set-pieces - the initial introduction of the town of Lympne, and the chapter "Mr Bedford in Infinite Space" - which have Wells at his best in terms of vivid writing. ( )
  nwhyte | May 3, 2020 |
A wide-reaching and highly entertaining read. Wells takes us along for a high-pitched sci-fi adventure from the Earth to the moon and keeps us thrilled along the ride. Although it is not a perfect novel, and is dated by today's science fiction standards, there is still much to like and admire here. For all those interested in classics, science fiction, and English literature you should check this out.

3.75 stars. ( )
  DanielSTJ | Apr 26, 2020 |
This lesser-known work by the author of War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, and The Time Machine is a charming exploration of turn-of-the-century capitalism, British imperialism, scientific curiosity, and some pretty wild ideas about what is happening on/in the moon. Our unreliable (but weirdly lovable) narrator, Mr. Bedford is a bankrupted businessman who rents a cottage in a small town to write a play and become wildly wealthy. No worries that he has never written a play before -- lack of confidence is not his problem. He runs into Mr. Cavor, an absent-minded scientist type who is at work to create Carvorite, a substance that will stop the force of gravity from acting on any object underneath it. While Cavor is only interested in scientific discovery and acclaim, Bedford sees dollar signs and throws in with Cavor on the creation of this amazing substance.

Once discovered, the two come up with the idea of using it to travel to the moon in a sphere coated with Cavorite, controlling their passage by opening and closing shutters to alter the effect of gravity. Bedford has an eye on the profits of moon mining, Cavor seems to want to just see what will happen. At first, the moon seems frozen and barren, but as the two week long "day" starts to dawn, crazy short-lived plants begin to bloom around the sphere. The men find that they are able to breathe the atmosphere and that they have amazing strength on this low-gravity planet. Soon, however, they realize that they are not alone as they encounter a group of Selenites tending to a herd of mooncalves. The Selenites are human-like insects with hidden technological prowess in their complicated cities inside the moon surrounding a central sea in the middle of the planet.

During their explorations of the surface of the moon, Bedford and Cavor become hungry enough to eat some crazy mushrooms that have a drug-like effect and promptly lose sight of their life-giving sphere. Shortly afterward, they are captured by the Selenites. Because of their very different approaches (Bedford wants to kill the aliens, Cavor wants to communicate and learn from them), tension builds between the unlikely partners and things, ultimately, do not go very well, although they do get very exciting and interesting.

This is a great adventure story with some solid and imaginative science. Published in 1901, this draws on the theories of Tesla and a lot of conjecture to imagine what humans in space might look like. Bedford is a very flawed narrator, but has some awareness of his limitations, and it is easy to see Wells poking fun at the British Empire and capitalism in general. There is a sprinkling of sexism and racism in this book, but compared to other early science fiction, it's refreshingly free of the worst of those tendencies. Highly recommended for fans of early sci-fi or those who like to see capitalism poke a little fun at itself. ( )
1 vote kristykay22 | Mar 5, 2020 |
An interesting book full of great imagination. I'll never like Wells as much as Verne but he has his moments. One of the strangest choices for this novel is to make the protagonist such a selfish rat. Otherwise it is a pretty good read. My favorite is still "The Time Machine". ( )
  ikeman100 | Nov 20, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wells, H. G.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ó Griobhtha, MícheálTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cinti, DecioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Clarke, Arthur C.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davray, Henry-D.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eggleton, BobCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gibb, KateCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grünau, Werner vonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guin, Ursula K. LeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lake, DavidEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ley, WillyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lowndes, Robert A.W.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maële, Martin vanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McLean, StevenNotessecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mieville, ChinaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mikes, LajosTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parrinder, PatrickIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Powers, Richard M.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tiszay, AndorAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wells, FrankIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winters, HowardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zitzewitz, Hoot vonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
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.
Quotations
So utterly at variance is destiny with all the little plans of men.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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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'As we saw it first it was the wildest and most desolate of scenes. We were in an enormous amphitheatre, a vast circular plain, the floor of the giant crater. Its cliff-like wall closed us in on every side¿' Thanks to the discovery of an anti-gravity metal, Cavorite, two Victorian Englishman decide to tackle the most prestigious goal - space travel. They construct a sphere that will ultimately take them to the moon. On landing, they encounter what seems like an utterly barren landscape but they soon find signs that the planet was once very much alive. Then they hear curious hammering sounds from beneath the surface, and come face to face with the Selenites, a race of insect-like aliens living in a rigidly organised hive society.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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McFarland

An edition of this book was published by McFarland.

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