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When an eccentric scientist invents antigravity, he decides to build a spherical spaceship. He enlists the help of a London businessman to accompany him to the moon. On arrival, they discover that the moon is inhabited by a sophisticated extraterrestrial civilization. They must use their wits to avoid beasts and monsters, to survive their encounter with aliens, and to esca When an eccentric scientist invents antigravity, he decides to build a spherical spaceship. He enlists the help of a London businessman to accompany him to the moon. On arrival, they discover that the moon is inhabited by a sophisticated extraterrestrial civilization. They must use their wits to avoid beasts and monsters, to survive their encounter with aliens, and to escape captivity. H. G. Wells is credited with the popularisation of time travel in 1895 with The Time Machine, introducing the idea of time being the "fourth dimension" a decade before the publication of Einstein's first Relativity papers. In 1896, he imagined a mad scientist creating human-like beings from animals in The Island of Doctor Moreau, which created a growing interest in animal welfare throughout Europe. In 1897 with The Invisible Man, Wells shows how a formula could render one invisible, recognizing that an invisible eye would not be able to focus, thus rendering the invisible man blind. With The War of the Worlds in 1898, Wells established the idea that an advanced civilization could live on Mars, popularising the term 'martian' and the idea that aliens could invade Earth.


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When an eccentric scientist invents antigravity, he decides to build a spherical spaceship. He enlists the help of a London businessman to accompany him to the moon. On arrival, they discover that the moon is inhabited by a sophisticated extraterrestrial civilization. They must use their wits to avoid beasts and monsters, to survive their encounter with aliens, and to esca When an eccentric scientist invents antigravity, he decides to build a spherical spaceship. He enlists the help of a London businessman to accompany him to the moon. On arrival, they discover that the moon is inhabited by a sophisticated extraterrestrial civilization. They must use their wits to avoid beasts and monsters, to survive their encounter with aliens, and to escape captivity. H. G. Wells is credited with the popularisation of time travel in 1895 with The Time Machine, introducing the idea of time being the "fourth dimension" a decade before the publication of Einstein's first Relativity papers. In 1896, he imagined a mad scientist creating human-like beings from animals in The Island of Doctor Moreau, which created a growing interest in animal welfare throughout Europe. In 1897 with The Invisible Man, Wells shows how a formula could render one invisible, recognizing that an invisible eye would not be able to focus, thus rendering the invisible man blind. With The War of the Worlds in 1898, Wells established the idea that an advanced civilization could live on Mars, popularising the term 'martian' and the idea that aliens could invade Earth.

30 review for The First Men in the Moon (1000 Copy Limited Edition)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    Forget The Invisible Man and The Time Machine, this should be considered a timeless classic by Wells! The science is outdated and fantastical, but it has all the wonder and intrigue of science fiction. It is an eccentric blend of tongue in cheek humor, swashbuckling adventure, and chilling despair. It is one of the most entertaining science fiction books I've read, and this is from a major Isaac Asimov fan! I particularly love the imaginative and visually rich world that Wells has created! It is Forget The Invisible Man and The Time Machine, this should be considered a timeless classic by Wells! The science is outdated and fantastical, but it has all the wonder and intrigue of science fiction. It is an eccentric blend of tongue in cheek humor, swashbuckling adventure, and chilling despair. It is one of the most entertaining science fiction books I've read, and this is from a major Isaac Asimov fan! I particularly love the imaginative and visually rich world that Wells has created! It is stunning, exotic, and wonderfully foreign, frightening, and bizarre. I won't say anything of what Cavor and Bedford find on the Moon, because it is best experienced first hand, but I wish the Moon was really like that! So, if you want to give Wells a try, go for this one! It is excellent!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    ...and no cheese to be found... When Mr Bedford's financial difficulties become pressing, he leaves London for the quiet of the Kentish countryside to write a play which he is sure will win him fame and fortune, despite him never having written anything before. Instead, he meets his new neighbour Mr Cavor, an eccentric scientist, and becomes intrigued and excited by the possibilities of the invention Cavor is working on – a substance that will defy gravity. Bedford, always with an eye for the ma ...and no cheese to be found... When Mr Bedford's financial difficulties become pressing, he leaves London for the quiet of the Kentish countryside to write a play which he is sure will win him fame and fortune, despite him never having written anything before. Instead, he meets his new neighbour Mr Cavor, an eccentric scientist, and becomes intrigued and excited by the possibilities of the invention Cavor is working on – a substance that will defy gravity. Bedford, always with an eye for the main chance, begins to imagine the commercial possibilities of such a substance, but Cavor is more interested in the glory that he will gain from the scientific community. And so it is that these two mismatched men find themselves as partners on an incredible voyage – to the Moon! I do not remember before that night thinking at all of the risks we were running. Now they came like that array of spectres that once beleaguered Prague, and camped around me. The strangeness of what we were about to do, the unearthliness of it, overwhelmed me. I was like a man awakened out of pleasant dreams to the most horrible surroundings. I lay, eyes wide open, and the sphere seemed to get more flimsy and feeble, and Cavor more unreal and fantastic, and the whole enterprise madder and madder every moment. I got out of bed and wandered about. I sat at the window and stared at the immensity of space. Between the stars was the void, the unfathomable darkness! I've been thoroughly enjoying revisiting some of the HG Wells stories I enjoyed in my youth, and reading for the first time the ones I missed back then. As with the others, I read the Oxford World's Classics version, which has the usual informative and enjoyable introduction, this time from Simon J James, Professor of Victorian Literature and Head of the Department of English Studies at Durham University, which sets the book in its historical and literary context. This is one I hadn't read before and perhaps it's fair to say it's one of the less well known ones, though only in comparison to the universal fame of some of the others, like The War of the Worlds or The Time Machine. While I think it hasn't got quite the depth of those, it's at least as enjoyable, if not more so. Mostly this is because of the characterisation and the interplay between the two men, which give the book a lot of humour. Bedford, our narrator, is rather a selfish cad without too much going on in the way of ethics or heroism, but I found him impossible to dislike. He's so honest about his own personality, not apologising for it, but not hypocritically trying to make himself seem like anything other than what he is – someone who's out for what he can get. Cavor also has some issues with ethics, though in his case it's not about greed. He's one of these scientists who is so obsessed with his own theories and experiments, he doesn't much care what impact they might have on other people – even the possibility that he might accidentally destroy the world seems like an acceptable risk to him. He simply won't tell the world it's in danger, so nobody has to worry about it. “It’s this accursed science,” I cried. “It’s the very Devil. The mediæval priests and persecutors were right and the Moderns are all wrong. You tamper with it—and it offers you gifts. And directly you take them it knocks you to pieces in some unexpected way. Old passions and new weapons—now it upsets your religion, now it upsets your social ideas, now it whirls you off to desolation and misery!” To a large degree, this is a straightforward adventure novel with a great story and lots of danger and excitement. But, being Wells, there are also underlying themes relating to contemporary concerns: primarily two, in this case. Firstly, through Cavor's invention of Cavorite (the name gives an indication of Cavor's desire for glory, I feel!), Wells looks at the huge leaps that were being made in the fields of science and technology and issues a warning that, while these promise great progress for mankind, they also threaten potential catastrophe if the science isn't tempered by ethical controls. Secondly, through the race of beings that Cavor and Bedford find when they arrive on the moon, Wells speculates on a form of society so utopian in its social control that it becomes positively terrifying! He uses this society, though, as a vehicle to comment on the less than utopian situation back on Earth, though I couldn't help feeling he frequently had his tongue stuck firmly in his cheek as he did so. The stuff was not unlike a terrestrial mushroom, only it was much laxer in texture, and, as one swallowed it, it warmed the throat. At first we experienced a mere mechanical satisfaction in eating; then our blood began to run warmer, and we tingled at the lips and fingers, and then new and slightly irrelevant ideas came bubbling up in our minds. “It’s good,” said I. “Infernally good! What a home for our surplus population! Our poor surplus population,” and I broke off another large portion. But the themes are treated more lightly in this one, and Wells allows his imagination free rein. One of the things I enjoyed most was how he includes a lot of realistic science even as he creates an impossible substance in Cavorite and an equally impossible race of moon-beings, the Selenites. Of course we've all looked down on Earth from planes now, but Wells imagines how it would look from space. He describes convincingly how to control a sphere covered in Cavorite by using gravity and the slingshot effect of planetary mass. He describes the weightlessness of zero gravity brilliantly, many decades before anyone had experienced it. His Selenites are a vision of evolved insect life, which frankly gave me the shivers, especially when he describes how they are bred, reared and surgically altered to happily fulfil a single function in life – a kind of precursor of the humans in Brave New World but with insect faces and arms!! I won't give spoilers as to what happens to the men, but the ending gives a minor commentary on one of Wells' other recurring themes – man's tendency to look on other people's territory as fair game for invasion and colonisation. But since you're now thinking – but wait! That IS a spoiler! I assure you it's really not, but you'll have to read the book to find out why it's not. Or you could just read it because it's a great read – lots of humour, great descriptive writing, enough depth to keep it interesting without overwhelming the story, a couple of characters you can't help liking even though you feel you shouldn't, and plenty of excitement. What are you waiting for? Jump aboard the Cavorite sphere – you don't get the chance to go to the Moon every day of the week! NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Oxford World's Classics. www.fictionfanblog.wordpress.com

  3. 5 out of 5

    W

    Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin got to the moon in 1969,the astronauts of H.G.Wells were already there in 1900. They get there courtesy of a new material,cavorite,which negates gravity.They find extraterrestrial life on the moon,which captures them. They experience weightlessness and find gold on the moon.One comes back,the other is left on the moon. I didn't enjoy it particularly.When Wells talks about the science of it,I found it fairly boring,and way too long.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Denisse

    Back when I read The War of the Worlds I had this dream that I was going to love every book by Wells. To be honest I'm in the cliché part with this author. Lets say I loved his most iconic works and got bored with his indie ones. I don't know what it was with The First Men in the Moon, it started very interesting I have no idea when it lost me. The first half was great but the second half, well, I have no idea. Anyway I can't go lower than 3 stars, the man was a visionary! No es el estilo, ni l Back when I read The War of the Worlds I had this dream that I was going to love every book by Wells. To be honest I'm in the cliché part with this author. Lets say I loved his most iconic works and got bored with his indie ones. I don't know what it was with The First Men in the Moon, it started very interesting I have no idea when it lost me. The first half was great but the second half, well, I have no idea. Anyway I can't go lower than 3 stars, the man was a visionary! No es el estilo, ni la forma en que está escrito, ni el tema. No se que fue. Wells escribió todo con el mismo formato solo que usando ideas distintas y con cambios en el desarrollo, pero tiene una formula muy bien construida, una fórmula que me funciono de maravilla en La Máquina del Tiempo y La Guerra de los Mundos, por desgracia en esta nueva novela me perdió en algún momento a mitad de desarrollo. Pero para ser honestos este hombre tenía una imaginación loquísima y unas ideas muy avanzadas. Sus descripciones son tan detalladas que sorprenden. Los primeros hombres en la Luna no es un libro tan dinámico como otras novelas del autor y hoy en día su mayor obstáculo seria que no puede competir con ellas ya que no encierra tanto misterio como antes. No podemos viajar en el tiempo y no sabemos a ciencia cierta si hay vida inteligente en otros planetas. Pero si tenemos información sobre la Luna, se sabe mucho mas de ella a cada día. Conforme pasas las paginas, la trama deja de ser ciencia ficción y se torna más en fantasía. Aun así, la idea es buena y la primera mitad muy interesante. No deja de sorprenderme la ciencia ficción vieja, tiene algo de especial, una chispa que no se encuentra con facilidad en libros actuales.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Marts (Thinker)

    This book was most interesting and quite an adventure. Two men, namely Bedford and Cavor, travel to the moon in a sphere designed by Cavor. When they arrive there, they are most amazed at what they see, something like snow, plants growing at alarming rates, and strange beings called Selenites among others. The adventure actually takes place 'inside' the moon after Bedford falls into a crevice as the two explore the surface, after the 'snow' lures them out of the safety of thier sphere. Well after This book was most interesting and quite an adventure. Two men, namely Bedford and Cavor, travel to the moon in a sphere designed by Cavor. When they arrive there, they are most amazed at what they see, something like snow, plants growing at alarming rates, and strange beings called Selenites among others. The adventure actually takes place 'inside' the moon after Bedford falls into a crevice as the two explore the surface, after the 'snow' lures them out of the safety of thier sphere. Well after an entire range of adventures, including a fight with the moon beings, eating moon plants, having to endure a disgusting blue light, and finally separating, Bedford finds the sphere, tries looking for and signalling to Cavor but never finds him, and finally heads back to earth. After many months elapse and Bedford gets his earthly life back in order, he receives a message from a Julius Wendigee regarding messages being received form space in english. Well the messages actually emanate from Cavor who day by day has been and continues to send messages regarding his experiences. This continues until one day the messages stop. This is the last that Bedford hears of Cavor. Well in the usual Wells style, a great adventure. I've left out too much detail, so hear what, JUST READ IT!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gabi

    This novel was such an unexpected fun recounting of how an idealistic explorer and a businessman fly to the moon. The tone of the narration is pleasantly tongue-in-cheek and doesn't take itself seriously. And the moon ... what a wonderful vivid imagination. Forget that it is dated, just enjoy.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alex Bright

    The Men in the Moon was an unsuspected, joyful surprise! The narration I listened to, by Alexander Vlahos was excellent -- just over-the-top enough to bring the Wells' story to life. In any case, it's immensely satisfying to have a story so well told that its visualization is both intricate and easy for the listener/reader. This late-Victorian novel (1901) tells the story of a naive, idealistic scientist named Cavor, and his industrialist/capitalist companion, Bedford, who also serves as the pri The Men in the Moon was an unsuspected, joyful surprise! The narration I listened to, by Alexander Vlahos was excellent -- just over-the-top enough to bring the Wells' story to life. In any case, it's immensely satisfying to have a story so well told that its visualization is both intricate and easy for the listener/reader. This late-Victorian novel (1901) tells the story of a naive, idealistic scientist named Cavor, and his industrialist/capitalist companion, Bedford, who also serves as the primary narrator. Cavor builds a sphere which conveys them to the moon, where Bedford hopes to find something, anything, to make him (them, perhaps) rich. They are completely at odds in their view of the world and, consequently, the moon. That's the set up, but the story is so much more fantastical than anything I could have imagined. I honestly didn't expect this to be so brilliantly funny, having only read The Time Machine and War of the Worlds, which aren't comedic in the slightest. What surprised me further was that it's more satire than science fiction, at least to modern eyes, and reminds me a great deal of Gulliver's Travels crossed with A Brave New World. Wells handles his pseudo sciences of space travel and social engineering with such a lightness and joviality as to render the audience nearly pacified in the wake of his underlying commentary on humanity until closer to the end. Wells certainly had his finger on the pulse of human greed, arrogance, ignorance, and violence -- especially when it comes to its relationship to anything it perceives as "other." Bedford encapsulates this pulse, while Cavor represents... what? The hope Wells has for the best of humanity. If, perhaps, a bit too credulous. (Side note: Part of me wonders if it's all a commentary on the stupid, arrogant white man and his colonialism.) The Selenites -- oh, the Selenites! They were wonderfully imaginative! As were the descriptions of the moon and everything on and in it. But I'll leave that for others to discover. I'm glad I went into this narrative with few preconceived notions, because it only added to my astonishment that such a whimsical (and thought-provoking) novel could be written by H. G. Wells.

  8. 4 out of 5

    E. G.

    Biographical Note Introduction Further Reading Note on the Text --The First Men in the Moon Notes

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jemppu

    Well, that was quite delightfully queer.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jim Smith

    Starts almost surreally twee and light. Becomes increasingly dark and weird. Felt as if the final stretch were tacked onto the original serialisation, but the ending made it worth it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Melissa (ladybug)

    A story where Mr. Bedford (a penniless Business man) meets a Scientist name of Dr. Cavor. Dr Cavor has invented a substance that can neutralize the effects of Gravity. Mr Bedford sees a chance to change his fortunes using this substance to travel to the Moon. While on the Moon, Mr Bedford and Dr Cavor find such strange sights as the Selenites, plants growing at alarming rates and other such awe inspiring things. While this book was written by the Author of The War of the Worlds and The Island of A story where Mr. Bedford (a penniless Business man) meets a Scientist name of Dr. Cavor. Dr Cavor has invented a substance that can neutralize the effects of Gravity. Mr Bedford sees a chance to change his fortunes using this substance to travel to the Moon. While on the Moon, Mr Bedford and Dr Cavor find such strange sights as the Selenites, plants growing at alarming rates and other such awe inspiring things. While this book was written by the Author of The War of the Worlds and The Island of Dr. Moreau, this book isn't as well known. I often wondered why people were taken in by the "War of the World's" radio play, but having listened to this book I can see it. At this point of time, people didn't know what was on the Moon. It was a mysteries force that was unknown and at this time unexplored. Anything could be there. There is life on Earth, why not the moon and mars? H.G. Wells, a genius of descriptions, brings you to the moon along with his characters. You can see the Selenites, the warrens under the Moons surface, actually even breathe the thin air with Mr. Bedford and Dr Cavor. You can see Dr Cavor waving his arms around and being non-confrontational and Mr. Bedford in his antagonistic best. The last few chapters tended to drag for me, but overall a wonderful early SciFi book about space and the possibilities to be found there.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jonfaith

    The 1960 film The Time Machine starring Rod Taylor is am adulteration of H.G. Wells' novel by the same name. The Eloi speak English and each and everyone of them appear to desire Rod Taylor; well, who doesn't? The whole enterprise appears to be a cautionary tale about Nuclear War and Free Love. I approached The First Men In The Moon with a wary eye about such cinematic mistreatments. I suspect Eric Roberts would star in this one. It should be noted that I was puzzled by the title, about the verb The 1960 film The Time Machine starring Rod Taylor is am adulteration of H.G. Wells' novel by the same name. The Eloi speak English and each and everyone of them appear to desire Rod Taylor; well, who doesn't? The whole enterprise appears to be a cautionary tale about Nuclear War and Free Love. I approached The First Men In The Moon with a wary eye about such cinematic mistreatments. I suspect Eric Roberts would star in this one. It should be noted that I was puzzled by the title, about the verb "in". Was this an Anglosim that had passed from favor? No, idiot, the majority of the novel occurs within the moon: its hollow and rife with Mooncalves, providers of sustaining protein. Wells was operating with only whiff of scientific modernity at his reach. Marconi and Tesla ruminate within these pages, but not much further. Gravity remains the concept with the most play in the novel. It creates a host of possibilities. What fires the whole operation as literature is the dynamic between the two human characters. It is a relationship needled with petulance and despair. The utility of the adventure is argued repeatedly. It is rather bleak and often slow going, but worth the departure and the sage questions it raises.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Oh, for the good old days when men believed that the moon was inhabited by "Selenites" who lived in deep caves underground! H.G. Wells in his The First Men in the Moon takes two Englishmen, the eccentric inventor Cavor and the ne'er-do-well Bedford to the moon in a spherical spaceship using an antigravity substance called Cavorite. Fortunately for these ill-prepared astronauts, the moon has plenty of oxygen, so they don't need a spacesuit with breathing apparatus. In no time at all, they get lost Oh, for the good old days when men believed that the moon was inhabited by "Selenites" who lived in deep caves underground! H.G. Wells in his The First Men in the Moon takes two Englishmen, the eccentric inventor Cavor and the ne'er-do-well Bedford to the moon in a spherical spaceship using an antigravity substance called Cavorite. Fortunately for these ill-prepared astronauts, the moon has plenty of oxygen, so they don't need a spacesuit with breathing apparatus. In no time at all, they get lost and are captured by the Selenites. They manage to get free, thanks to Bedford's savage murder of several of their captors. He manages to find their spaceship, but Cavor is recaptured. No matter, Bedford returns to earth alone with a hoard of lunar gold. Not the violent conquistador like Bedford, Cavor stays behind on the moon and sends messages explaining his dealings with the Selenites. These are suddenly interrupted, leaving us precisely nowhere.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Po Po

    Such a disappointment! I expected so much more from this. I was waiting for some philosophical discourse and musings on some enduring, unalterable and inalienable Truth, as is usually the case in wells' works, but nope. Nothing of the kind in this book. I'm giving it two stars instead of just one because this story was highly imaginative and VERY unpredictable (I liked that I couldn't foresee what would happen about 50 pages before it actually does). I think my main issue with this particular stor Such a disappointment! I expected so much more from this. I was waiting for some philosophical discourse and musings on some enduring, unalterable and inalienable Truth, as is usually the case in wells' works, but nope. Nothing of the kind in this book. I'm giving it two stars instead of just one because this story was highly imaginative and VERY unpredictable (I liked that I couldn't foresee what would happen about 50 pages before it actually does). I think my main issue with this particular story is that it didn't make me care about the two main characters at all, or any other secondary characters. A good story makes the reader feel some emotion, positive or not. I didn't have any emotional connection with anyone in the book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Eleri

    Bit boring to be honest. So much of the science was just way off, which was sometimes amusing but mostly irritating. So much of it was description which my brain just switched off for.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Callum McLaughlin

    This is one of Wells' lesser known novels, but I found it just as interesting and enjoyable an entry to his canon of work. As always, I was left both impressed and appreciative of how much the fantastical elements of his stories are based in genuine science. He doesn't take the easy option of just telling us that his characters 'make a space shuttle', he tells us how they do it, but without ever bogging down the narrative. Obviously in this particular case, the speculative scientific elements hav This is one of Wells' lesser known novels, but I found it just as interesting and enjoyable an entry to his canon of work. As always, I was left both impressed and appreciative of how much the fantastical elements of his stories are based in genuine science. He doesn't take the easy option of just telling us that his characters 'make a space shuttle', he tells us how they do it, but without ever bogging down the narrative. Obviously in this particular case, the speculative scientific elements have become outdated. Man has since invented genuine space shuttles, and we have visited the moon. But bearing in mind that this was written 60 years before space travel was even a thing, you can't help but marvel at the richness of Wells' imagination, and how far ahead of his time he was. The first two thirds of the novel are full of a true sense of adventure and wonder, with moments of real action and excitement. Without spoiling anything plot-wise, the final third subtly calls into question the reliability of our narrator, as the story becomes an exploration of the society our intrepid travellers have uncovered on the moon. By drawing both parallels and differences with humanity, Wells cleverly highlights both the strengths and flaws of our own society, and calls into question whether we should really be trying to travel the galaxy at all, given how badly we have treated our own world, and how little we really know about it. This is a theme still hugely relevant today, and yet another example of the timeless quality of Wells' literature. Wells' prose is incredibly accessible; he's definitely a great choice for those normally daunted by classic authors. To say he's readable is not to say his prose isn't also capable of evoking real beauty, however. Take this passage, for example: “Over me, about me, closing in on me, embracing me ever nearer, was the Eternal, that which was before the beginning and that which triumphs over the end; that enormous void in which all light and life and being is but the thin and vanishing splendour of a falling star, the cold, the stillness, the silence - the infinite and final Night of space.” Another solid read. It cements Wells’ place amongst my favourite and most thought-provoking authors.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bev

    This is not my favorite H. G. Wells novel. I really enjoyed The Island of Dr. Moreau last fall--it won the creepy contest sponsored by Softdrink & Heather in their annual Dueling Monsters challenge. And The Invisible Man garnered 4 stars this year. But The First Men in the Moon is one of Wells' lesser known novels--and I think deservedly so. It is the story of two men who find a way to journey to the moon (back at the turn of the last century). There is the brilliant scientific theorist who comes This is not my favorite H. G. Wells novel. I really enjoyed The Island of Dr. Moreau last fall--it won the creepy contest sponsored by Softdrink & Heather in their annual Dueling Monsters challenge. And The Invisible Man garnered 4 stars this year. But The First Men in the Moon is one of Wells' lesser known novels--and I think deservedly so. It is the story of two men who find a way to journey to the moon (back at the turn of the last century). There is the brilliant scientific theorist who comes up with the method and the failed business man (and current attempted playwright) who prods the theorist into putting his ideas into practice. The business man, of course, has visions of what they might discover on the moon and bring back to Earth for a profit. He might actually make something of himself... The scientist, one Mr. Cavor by name, has come up with a substance (dubbed Cavorite) that will block the force of gravity. Coat a spherical ship with the stuff and manipulate it just right and off you go to the moon! It's just that easy. And so they do. They arrive on the moon to find that, miracle of miracles, they can breathe the air. It's a bit thin, but workable. And when they get lost and can't find their ship, why they can eat the moon-vegetation as well. The only ill-effect is drunkenness. Well, that, and they come out of their stupor to find that they have been captured by the natives of the moon. Their captors take them down inside the moon. Bedford, the businessman, fears what the Selenites (that's what the moon-people are called) might do to them and a grand escape and chase and action-hero fighting take place. It looks like our two protagonists will make a clean get-away. But then they are silly enough to separate. Bedford finds the sphere and Cavor is re-captured. Bedford has an idea that he might head back to Earth and bring back reinforcements, but things don't go exactly as planned. The book ends with communications that are received from Cavor and a bit of Wells' usual philosophizing on the war-like nature of man. You'd think with the action, this would be an interesting book. But it just didn't pull me in the way the chase across Moreau's island did. And I didn't really care for either of the main characters. Cavor is a bit endearing as the one-track-minded scientist who can't really see the practical side of things--but not enough to win me over. Two stars.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Vera

    Another very nice science fiction story by H.G. Wells. This book was written before the first airplane had flown and Wells writes about a journey to the moon. Jules Verne wrote about travelling to the moon 35 years before Wells. The characters in Verne's book are being shot to the moon a giant projectile, which reminds of the actual space shuttles (which wasn't about to start before a hundred years after Verne's publication!!). Wells, on the other hand, takes a very different, not less creative a Another very nice science fiction story by H.G. Wells. This book was written before the first airplane had flown and Wells writes about a journey to the moon. Jules Verne wrote about travelling to the moon 35 years before Wells. The characters in Verne's book are being shot to the moon a giant projectile, which reminds of the actual space shuttles (which wasn't about to start before a hundred years after Verne's publication!!). Wells, on the other hand, takes a very different, not less creative approach. The key lies in Cavorit, a material that is not sensible to gravity, that was made by Cavor. Cavor meets Bedford, who decides to work together with Cavor, for he sees great potential in this material that makes things weightless. However, Cavors plans turn out to be a bit more extreme than Bedfords - Cavor wants to visit and explore the moon. He designs a giant glass ball with shutters made from Cavorit. When all shutters are closed, the ball is not attracted by the Earths gravitation and will fly up. Opening one or more of the shuttes will cause the ball to move in that direction. And so, without any complication, Bedford and Cavor reach the moon. There they get to live with a few surprises, but I don't want to spoil any more of the story. It's a very entertaining interesting book, and especially if you keep in mind that it's written in 1901!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lostaccount

    “My habits are regular. My time for intercourse – limited” I had to giggle at that! A silly scientist (Cavor) invents an anti-grav paint (Cavorite), coats a sphere with the stuff and with the help of Bedford (Victorian wag), who turns out to be a bit too handy with a crowbar, they float off into space and land on the Moon. In Wells’ imagination the moon is psychedelic. After a bit of farcical leaping about in the moon’s gravity, they encounter a moon species, the Selenites, ant-like beings, at whic “My habits are regular. My time for intercourse – limited” I had to giggle at that! A silly scientist (Cavor) invents an anti-grav paint (Cavorite), coats a sphere with the stuff and with the help of Bedford (Victorian wag), who turns out to be a bit too handy with a crowbar, they float off into space and land on the Moon. In Wells’ imagination the moon is psychedelic. After a bit of farcical leaping about in the moon’s gravity, they encounter a moon species, the Selenites, ant-like beings, at which point, Bedford goes whacko and starts attacking them, then flees in the sphere leaving poor Cavor behind. The “splash down” back to earth is incredibly prophetic, being that it was written long before anybody had any idea of how to get to the moon and back. The messages from Cavor from the moon (with a sneaky poke at the violent Bedford) turn into an awful infodump, but the ending is almost chilling. Overall, a nutty read but fun in a schoolboy adventure sort of way.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rob Thompson

    The First Men in the Moon is a scientific romance by the English author H. G. Wells. First serialised in The Strand Magazine from December 1900 to August 1901 it was later published in hardcover. All in all it's a great swashbuckling adventure story. Of course, age has dated the science but it's still an entertaining blend of humour, danger and excitement. Bedford, our narrator, is an egotistical selfish cad: rather like Terry Thomas. His interplay with Cavor, a detached scientist, is always amu The First Men in the Moon is a scientific romance by the English author H. G. Wells. First serialised in The Strand Magazine from December 1900 to August 1901 it was later published in hardcover. All in all it's a great swashbuckling adventure story. Of course, age has dated the science but it's still an entertaining blend of humour, danger and excitement. Bedford, our narrator, is an egotistical selfish cad: rather like Terry Thomas. His interplay with Cavor, a detached scientist, is always amusing. Plot Summary (view spoiler)[The narrator is a London businessman named Bedford who withdraws to the countryside to write a play, by which he hopes to alleviate his financial problems. Bedford rents a small countryside house in Lympne in Kent, where he wants to work in peace. He is bothered every afternoon, however, at precisely the same time, by a passer-by making odd noises. After two weeks Bedford accosts the man who proves to be a reclusive physicist named Mr. Cavor. Bedford befriends Cavor when he learns he is developing a new material, cavorite, which can negate the force of gravity. When a sheet of cavorite is prematurely processed, it makes the air above it weightless and shoots off into space. Bedford sees in the commercial production of cavorite a possible source of "wealth enough to work any sort of social revolution we fancied; we might own and order the whole world". Cavor hits upon the idea of a spherical spaceship made of "steel, lined with glass", and with sliding "windows or blinds" made of cavorite by which it can be steered, and persuades a reluctant Bedford to undertake a voyage to the Moon; Cavor is certain there is no life there. On the way to the Moon, they experience weightlessness, which Bedford finds "exceedingly restful". On the surface of the Moon the two men discover a desolate landscape, but as the Sun rises, the thin, frozen atmosphere vaporises and strange plants begin to grow with extraordinary rapidity. Bedford and Cavor leave the capsule, but in romping about get lost in the rapidly growing jungle. They hear for the first time a mysterious booming coming from beneath their feet. They encounter "great beasts", "monsters of mere fatness", that they dub "mooncalves", and five-foot-high "Selenites" tending them. At first they hide and crawl about, but growing hungry partake of some "monstrous coralline growths" of fungus that inebriate them. They wander drunkenly until they encounter a party of six extraterrestrials, who capture them. The insectoid lunar natives (referred to as "Selenites", after Selene, the moon goddess) are part of a complex and technologically sophisticated society that lives underground, but this is revealed only in radio communications received from Cavor after Bedford's return to Earth. Bedford and Cavor break out of captivity beneath the surface of the Moon and flee, killing several Selenites. In their flight they discover that gold is common on the Moon. In their attempt to find their way back to the surface and to their sphere, they come upon some Selenites carving up mooncalves but fight their way past. Back on the surface, they split up to search for their spaceship. Bedford finds it but returns to Earth without Cavor, who injured himself in a fall and was recaptured by the Selenites, as Bedford learns from a hastily scribbled note he left behind. By good fortune, the narrator lands in the sea off the coast of Britain, near the seaside town of Littlestone, not far from his point of departure. His fortune is made by some gold he brings back, but he loses the sphere when a curious boy named Tommy Simmons climbs into the unattended sphere and shoots off into space. Bedford writes and publishes his story in The Strand Magazine, then learns that "Mr. Julius Wendigee, a Dutch electrician, who has been experimenting with certain apparatus akin to the apparatus used by Mr. Tesla in America", has picked up fragments of radio communications from Cavor sent from inside the Moon. During a period of relative freedom Cavor has taught two Selenites English and learned much about lunar society. Cavor's account explains that Selenites exist in thousands of forms and find fulfilment in carrying out the specific social function for which they have been brought up: specialisation is the essence of Selenite society. "With knowledge the Selenites grew and changed; mankind stored their knowledge about them and remained brutes—equipped," remarks the Grand Lunar, when he finally meets Cavor and hears about life on Earth. Unfortunately, Cavor reveals humanity's propensity for war; the lunar leader and those listening to the interview are "stricken with amazement". Bedford infers that it is for this reason that Cavor has been prevented from further broadcasting to Earth. Cavor's transmissions are cut off as he is trying to describe how to make cavorite. His final fate is unknown, but Bedford is sure that "we shall never… receive another message from the moon". There are a few underlying themes relating to contemporary concerns. The ordered society of the Selenites is a system without individual freedoms and rights. The insectlike form of the lunar beings highlights this. It gives them a monstrous quality. Bedford fights against the system. But he chooses for his own selfish reasons to steal gold and come back for more. Cavor is fascinated by what he sees. Yet he is prepared only to observe, not to take part. Wells uses the term “citizens” for the Selenites. In reality they are conditioned from birth to perform their preassigned tasks. This is a nightmarish vision of economic conditions in a developed capitalist system. And Bedford typifies the acquisitive capitalist, who irresponsibly pursues gain. (hide spoiler)] A recommended early 20th Century fun schoolboy adventure.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Wilson

    The First Men in the Moon has been one of the most exhilarating, uplifting novels I've read this year. I've really been enjoying digging into Wells for the first time; until now I've found his sci-fi novels entertaining, imaginative and funny. This one however...this one is a humanist masterpiece. Does that sound boring? It's still fun and funny and inventive! At the same time, it tackles empathy, communication, technology, warfare, xenophobia, and human institutions. And with language as lush a The First Men in the Moon has been one of the most exhilarating, uplifting novels I've read this year. I've really been enjoying digging into Wells for the first time; until now I've found his sci-fi novels entertaining, imaginative and funny. This one however...this one is a humanist masterpiece. Does that sound boring? It's still fun and funny and inventive! At the same time, it tackles empathy, communication, technology, warfare, xenophobia, and human institutions. And with language as lush and glorious as the surface of the moon itself. Oh yeah - there's a jungle on the surface of the moon. And talking of the moon - this book was published 68 years before Apollo 11 landed there, but Wells magnificently captured the spirit of space exploration (and maybe also the mysterious spark that separates humans from other animals): It dawned upon me up there in the moon as a thing I ought always to have known, that man is not made simply to go about being safe and comfortable and well fed and amused.... Against his interest, against his happiness, he is constantly being driven to do unreasonable things. Some force not himself impels him, and go he must. But why? Why? How wonderful.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Hayley Stewart

    Full review can be found here One of H. G. Wells lesser known books (in comparison to the likes of The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, War of The Worlds) I still thought it was worth going into it with the feelings that reading his other books gave me. Set in England, Wells introduces us to Bedford – a man who’s trying to find an easy way to earn money to pay off the debt collectors chasing him... and Professor Cavor, your run-of-the-mill eccentric scientist who has just hit upon an idea for an i Full review can be found here One of H. G. Wells lesser known books (in comparison to the likes of The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, War of The Worlds) I still thought it was worth going into it with the feelings that reading his other books gave me. Set in England, Wells introduces us to Bedford – a man who’s trying to find an easy way to earn money to pay off the debt collectors chasing him... and Professor Cavor, your run-of-the-mill eccentric scientist who has just hit upon an idea for an invention but has no idea what to do with it. The new invention is Cavorite, a material that can block ‘gravity waves’ thus making the object float after the correct scientific treatment. To his credit, Wells doesn't do a Verne and try to go into great scientific explanations, making his narrative character excuse himself as the man with the business brains and not the scientific one. Some of the aspects in this book were very much ahead of Wells' time and I enjoy being able to look back with my 21st Century knowledge and marvel at how things were perceived, either accurately or differently from the reality we now know. The idea of the moon coming to life and being inhabited by beings that live underground in it's hollowed out shell may be pushing the realms of belief too far but this is what science fiction is all about and Wells is one of the original masters as far as I'm concerned. Overall I can see why this book has lasted but at the same time there is a reason it is a little less well-known than his others. It doesn't have that extra something... that draws you so into the book it becomes something you carry with you. If you're a fan of Wells' other works then please, by all means, read this book. If you're interested in early 20th Century works then, again, read it. If you're interested in any part of this book then I can tell you that you will not have wasted any time reading it, but I don't think you'll come away from it changed or affected by it in any way.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Miriam Cihodariu

    As a disclaimer, I should state that this was my first and last audiobook experience and the fact that I am now convinced listening to audiobooks is not for me may have put a damper on my perception of the narrative itself. If I ever get to reading this book the proper way, my rating may very well go up by one star. As always, the chief strength of Wells is his ability of weaving a very detailed world, from the initial descriptions of personas and what you can assume about them from their lifest As a disclaimer, I should state that this was my first and last audiobook experience and the fact that I am now convinced listening to audiobooks is not for me may have put a damper on my perception of the narrative itself. If I ever get to reading this book the proper way, my rating may very well go up by one star. As always, the chief strength of Wells is his ability of weaving a very detailed world, from the initial descriptions of personas and what you can assume about them from their lifestyle and quirks, and up to the alien worlds built from scratch. There's no doubt that his pioneering imagination is still causing a major influence in the genre today and deserves its spot in the hall of fame. I just wish I enjoyed the book more but it tended to drag or to be silly in dialogues and descriptions from time to time, though this could be due to the audiobook rendition. I would still recommended it to any fans of sci-fi, British lit or fantasy, as part of a mandatory 'know the roots' experience.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    Wells is always good fun, but this is the least successful of his sci-fi novels that I have encountered, mainly because science did finally catch up with his imagination and prove so many of his suppositions about the moon to be wrong. The narrator chances upon a mad scientist, Cavor, who invents a sort of anti-magnetic element from which they build a ship to propel them to the moon. The atmosphere, geology and composition of the moon are all complete hokum, as are the insect-like inhabitants, t Wells is always good fun, but this is the least successful of his sci-fi novels that I have encountered, mainly because science did finally catch up with his imagination and prove so many of his suppositions about the moon to be wrong. The narrator chances upon a mad scientist, Cavor, who invents a sort of anti-magnetic element from which they build a ship to propel them to the moon. The atmosphere, geology and composition of the moon are all complete hokum, as are the insect-like inhabitants, the Selenites. If nothing else though, this is an enjoyable adventure story and a reminder of just how fertile Wells' genius was.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tyska

    Two men make it to the moon and discover a hidden society of moon creatures beneath the surface. Supposed to be one of Wells' best but most underrated books from the time when people hadn't set foot on the Moon, yet. His stories always seem so simple to me when in fact they are rich in detail and complexity. I love how neatly he combines scientific facts with fiction and how lively the worlds are that he creates. Once again, like in most of his writings, he doesn't miss the chance to criticize hu Two men make it to the moon and discover a hidden society of moon creatures beneath the surface. Supposed to be one of Wells' best but most underrated books from the time when people hadn't set foot on the Moon, yet. His stories always seem so simple to me when in fact they are rich in detail and complexity. I love how neatly he combines scientific facts with fiction and how lively the worlds are that he creates. Once again, like in most of his writings, he doesn't miss the chance to criticize human culture, in this case war and greed.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    The First Men in the Moon has two unusual features. Firstly the title is not a typographical error or misprint. Cavor and Bedford are not merely the first men on the moon, but the first men in the moon, and this second fact is more significant than the first. It is curious that Wells chose to create a book in which lunar civilisation is subterranean, rather than surface-dwelling, but it does make a kind of sense. Wells’ depiction of life on the moon has been rendered obsolete by what we now know The First Men in the Moon has two unusual features. Firstly the title is not a typographical error or misprint. Cavor and Bedford are not merely the first men on the moon, but the first men in the moon, and this second fact is more significant than the first. It is curious that Wells chose to create a book in which lunar civilisation is subterranean, rather than surface-dwelling, but it does make a kind of sense. Wells’ depiction of life on the moon has been rendered obsolete by what we now know of the moon. There is no snow on the moon (ice at best), no breathable atmosphere and no fast-growing flora on its surface. However, even in Wells’ day, telescopes were strong enough to detect any building the size of a church on the moon, as Cavor explains at one point. Since it would be unlikely that an intelligent species would fail to create buildings higher than one storey, Wells resorted to the next best solution, which was locating the alien society underground. The second unusual feature of the book is its use of an unreliable narrator. This is not a unique storytelling technique, and it had been used much earlier than Wells, for example in Gulliver’s Travels. Indeed there are certain parallels to Gulliver’s Travels in the closing chapters of The First Men in the Moon, where Cavor describes the worst aspects of human behaviour to the appalled Grand Lunar. What makes it unusual in this book is that we do not associate Wells with this kind of distancing technique. Wells seems like too straightforward a storyteller to employ an unreliable narrator, although anyone who has read enough of Wells’ fiction will soon realise that he often employs irony in his writing. Be that as it may, Bedford is not a reliable narrator. The story that Bedford tells us is as follows. He joins forces with a brilliant but unworldly scientist called Cavor to develop a new gravity-defying substance named Cavorite after its inventor. They use Cavorite to travel to the moon where they are captured by a species of intelligent insectoid aliens who live under the moon’s surface. When the aliens try to persuade Bedford and Cavor to cross over a dangerously narrow bridge in the dark, Bedford lashes out and kills one of the Selenites (as the two men name the moon people). Cavor and Bedford flee to the surface and try to find the sphere that they used to reach the moon. However Cavor is recaptured and Bedford returns alone. Bedford lands safely back on Earth, but the sphere is soon lost. Bedford’s story is self-aggrandising, and intended to offer a rose-tinted view of his behaviour on the moon. However, even here we can detect that Bedford is no shining character. When Bedford meets Cavor, he is a man who has been ruined by bad business adventures, and he hopes to exploit the inventions of the naïve scientist in order to make his fortune. This self-serving attitude continues when Bedford reaches the moon. He is intent on mining the moon for all he can get, and he is attracted by the large amount of gold on the moon. Even his thoughts about the Selenites are aggressive. He is hostile to them from the beginning, and lashes out, killing one. Later he kills more of them while making his escape. By the standards of his own narrative, Bedford is seen to be defending himself, but even here we may note that the Selenites have not intentionally sought to harm him or Cavor. It also seems likely that Bedford’s real hope is to return to Earth and then get others to accompany him back to the moon to take on the Selenites. While Bedford may not have colonisation in mind, this is the direction in which his behaviour is tending. It is therefore perhaps fortunate for the Selenites that he is deprived of the sphere that would allow him to return to the moon. Bedford may be seeking to promote himself, but his efforts are undermined by Cavor. Even in Bedford’s narrative, Cavor is allowed to express some abhorrence for Bedford’s aggression, and by extension some pessimism for the potential effects of their discovery: “If I take my secret back to earth, what will happen? I do not see how I can keep my secret for a year, or even part of a year? Sooner or later it must come out, even if other men rediscover it. And then…Governments and powers will struggle to get hither, they will fight against one another, and against these moon people; it will only spread warfare and multiply the occasions of war. In a little while, in a very little while, if I tell my secret, this planet to its deepest galleries will be strewn with human dead.” So much for Bedford’s narrative. However Bedford is further undermined after he has published his version of events, when Cavor is able to make a few transmissions from the moon, in which he offers a different perspective on Bedford. In this version of events, Bedford is described as going off his head soon after landing on the moon, engaging in unprovoked aggression against the Selenites and abandoning Cavor so he can steal a march on him. It is impossible to be certain which version of events is true, but it further undermines Bedford’s status in the book. Bedford represents all that is worst in humanity – our commercial, controlling, selfish and warlike instincts. Wells seems to share Cavor’s pessimism about the potential fate of the moon if people like Bedford return in numbers. After learning about human wars, the Selenites come to share that fear and cut off Cavor’s communications with Earth. If Bedford represents what is worst and most base in human nature, does Cavor represent what is best? I would say no. Cavor is certainly the more humane and visionary of the two travellers. He is appalled by the violence of his comrade, and he is motivated by a spirit of genuine scientific curiosity, devoid of selfish greed. However, Cavor is not without his faults. We could even view him as a gentler version of Dr Moreau. Cavor would not carry out cruel experiments on living beings, but he is dismissive when an explosion at his house apparently kills his three servants, calling them martyrs to science. He also shares Moreau’s concern for studying science for its own sake. Hence he is interested in profiting neither himself nor humanity by his experiments, and he is bemused when Bedford points to the possible commercial gains that can be made by Cavorite. It is curious that Wells believed in the efficacy of human progress for most of his life, as his works often show the downside of science and knowledge. We see both misapplied for selfish, amoral and unscrupulous purposes, and are reminded of the fragility of human control on the planet. By the end of his life, Wells seems to have embraced the implicit pessimism of his works and began to fear for the future of his species. However, for now he still had optimism, so Cavor is able to say that humans are not yet ready to meet the Selenites. The final chapters lack the narrative interest of the earlier story and content themselves with describing life on the moon. These chapters have been seen as one of the earliest descriptions of a dystopia. Certainly there is much that we would dislike in the fascistic, conformist and utilitarian society. Indeed certain aspects of it bear a resemblance to passages in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. The Selenites have been socially and biologically modified to fit into a particular station in life, and to be happy in that place, and contemptuous of others. When not working, the inhabitants are drugged to leave them inactive. However one person’s utopia is another person’s dystopia, and vice-versa. This particular vision of a working society is unappealing to us, and Cavor comments with distaste on the pain caused by some of the practices that the Selenites use to breed certain workers. However, the Selenites seem to be untroubled by war, revolt or conflict of any kind, and thus it is hard to say that the human characters come from a better society than the Selenites. The First Men in the Moon was arguably the last great sci-fi novel that Wells wrote. There were other books to follow, and some were interesting, but none captured the imagination as much as his earlier books. Later works tended to be overly philosophical in a manner that did not make great art. The prose here is sometimes workmanlike and rarely soars. Nonetheless the book as a whole is a good work of speculative science fiction that broadens the mind.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Gizem-in-Wonderland

    “What is this spirit in man that urges him forever to depart from happiness and security, to toil, to place himself in danger, even to risk a reasonable certainty of death? It dawned upon me up there in the moon as a thing I ought always to have known, that man is not made simply to go about being safe and comfortable and well fed and amused. Against his interest, against his happiness he is constantly being driven to do unreasonable things. Some force not himself impels him and go he must.” This “What is this spirit in man that urges him forever to depart from happiness and security, to toil, to place himself in danger, even to risk a reasonable certainty of death? It dawned upon me up there in the moon as a thing I ought always to have known, that man is not made simply to go about being safe and comfortable and well fed and amused. Against his interest, against his happiness he is constantly being driven to do unreasonable things. Some force not himself impels him and go he must.” This is basically the summary of the book. This was too insane, even for Wells. After reading and thoroughly enjoying The Time Machine I decided to dive deeper into the mind of Wells, who shocked me with the level of imagination beyond his time. The First Men in the Moon was written more than 60 years before the actual landing on the moon. Though it defies the laws of physics, the story bewildered me thanks to the possibilities created by the brilliant mind. And once you get past the small “technicalities” and stop questioning how the two crazy boys found themselves on the moon all of a sudden, you get to enjoy the story and all the insanity that is going on. However after a while, the narration got a little too prosaic for my taste. I mean he is talking about highly civilized extraterrestrial beings, come on show some excitement! I should not have felt like sleeping during this. Overall a great read for classics and sci-fi lovers, but I got lost after the 2/3 of the book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Paul Haspel

    The first thing to notice regarding this 1901 science-fiction novel by H.G. Wells is the great author’s peculiar choice of prepositions. “The First Men in the Moon” – not on, but in. This phraseology, of course, goes against the way we of the modern world would ordinarily talk about a trip to the moon. We customarily say that, when Apollo 11 landed at Tranquility Base on 20 July 1969, and Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin took their historic first steps onto the lunar surface, they became t The first thing to notice regarding this 1901 science-fiction novel by H.G. Wells is the great author’s peculiar choice of prepositions. “The First Men in the Moon” – not on, but in. This phraseology, of course, goes against the way we of the modern world would ordinarily talk about a trip to the moon. We customarily say that, when Apollo 11 landed at Tranquility Base on 20 July 1969, and Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin took their historic first steps onto the lunar surface, they became the first men on the moon. “That’s one small step for a man – one giant leap for mankind.” But in Wells’s novel, the moon is a hollow sphere, honeycombed with a veritable labyrinth of horizontal and vertical passages, blessed with a great Central Sea at its core, and inhabited by sentient beings – all of which makes The First Men in the Moon quite a journey indeed. H.G. Wells is, of course, one of the founding fathers of science fiction. Within just six years, he wrote The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), The War of the Worlds (1898), and The First Men in the Moon (1901) – five of the original classics of the SF genre. At the time, though, such works were not known as “science fiction”; rather, as SF novelist China Miéville explains in an introductory foreword, books of this kind were called “scientific romances” – works that extrapolated from known science of their time to tell an exciting and action-packed story. Patrick Parrinder, who edited this edition of The First Men in the Moon, is a former Chairman of the H.G. Wells Society; and Steven McLean, who provides explanatory notes for this edition, was, at the time of this book’s Penguin Classics publication, Secretary of the Society. Accordingly, there is a good bit in this volume about how Wells, with his use of science fiction to provide social criticism, and his willingness to venture into genres other than SF, is much the superior of his predecessor Jules Verne. I respect their opinion; but I can’t help thinking that an edition of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea or Journey to the Center of the Earth, edited by leaders of the Société Jules Verne, might set forth different opinions regarding the relative merit of the two authors. Yet Wellsians and Vernians alike can agree that The First Men in the Moon is a fun and engaging science-fiction novel – even if its Victorian-era lunar science is not exactly in line with what Armstrong and Aldrin found after announcing “The Eagle has landed” and stepping out of their lunar module. As the novel begins, its narrator, a London businessman named Bedford, responds to his business failures by skipping out on his creditors and decamping to the Kentish coast; there, he plans to recoup his fortunes by writing a play that he hopes will become the hit of the season on the London stage. If this is Bedford’s idea of a can’t-miss, sure-thing way of making his fortune, then perhaps we have a sense of why his business ventures have not been successful to date. Bedford’s dreams of becoming the literary toast of Covent Garden vanish when he encounters an absent-minded scientist named Cavor, who has got this idea for synthesizing an anti-gravity substance (Wells deliberately leaves the science of it all rather vague). Bedford, taken with the financial possibilities of it all, begins collaborating with Cavor on the quest to invent “Cavorite”; and some hint of the troubles to come occurs when Cavor, seeking to synthesize his Cavorite, accidentally causes an explosion that wrecks most of the homes and knocks down most of the trees in that part of Kent. And then there is the additional inconvenient detail that Cavor’s substance could have sucked all of the oxygen out of Earth’s atmosphere for a long enough time to asphyxiate every living thing on the planet. Oops! These two mismatched, ethically challenged misfits – Bedford with his eye forever on money and the “main chance,” Cavor with his blithe “pure research” dedication that utterly disregards the possible consequences of that research – impulsively decide upon a trip to the Moon. With none of the mainframe computer technology that made possible the Apollo moon missions of the 1960’s and 1970’s, they build a glass sphere with an aeration system, fire up the Cavorite, and successfully travel the 240,000 miles from the Earth to the Moon. And what do they find? Unsurprisingly, Bedford and Cavor’s lunar observations from a 1901 science-fiction novel do not match Armstrong and Aldrin’s lunar data from Apollo 11 in 1969. For one thing, the moon – at least the part upon which the sun is shining at any given time – has air; Bedford notes that “the air just outside our glass”, with the onset of the lunar sunrise, “was running – it was boiling – like snow into which a white-hot rod is thrust. What had been solid air had suddenly, at the touch of the sun, become a paste, a mud, a slushy liquefaction that hissed and bubbled into gas” (p. 51). And the moon has life! – seeds that germinate with astonishing speed in the lunar daytime, causing Bedford to reflect joyfully that “our vast journey had not been made in vain, that we had come to no arid waste of minerals, but to a world that lived and moved!” (p. 55). And life on the Moon is not limited to germinating plants – there are intelligent beings there as well, in the form of insect-like creatures called Selenites. Mind you, they do not call themselves Selenites: you will not encounter a scene where one of these lunar inhabitants says, “Greetings. I am Selenos, of the planet Selenium. I will now take you to our leader, Seleniak,” or something like that. Rather, “Selenite” comes from the ancient Greek σελήνη (selénē), meaning “moon,” and the term was coined by the Anglo-Welsh writer James Howell (1594-1666) as a way to refer to possible inhabitants of the Moon. Readers of other Wells works like The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds will not be surprised to hear that the initial encounter between Earthlings and Selenites does not go well. Chained by the Selenites and ordered to cross an exceedingly narrow bridge over a vast chasm, Bedford takes his chained hand and lashes out at a Selenite who is trying to force him across the bridge with a sharp-pointed goad: My mailed hand seemed to go clean through him. He smashed like some sort of sweetmeat with liquid in it. He broke right in. He squelched and splashed. It was like hitting a damp toadstool. The flimsy body went spinning a dozen yards and fell with a flabby impact. I was astonished. I was incredulous that any living thing could be so flimsy. For an instant I could have believed the whole thing a dream. (p. 104) In the Moon’s lower gravity, Bedford and Cavor have strength beyond that of the Selenites, and can leap vast distances in a single bound. But in their exhilaration at making it to the moon, they managed not to mark the location of their space capsule. Some explorers they are! As Bedford and Cavor seek to elude the Selenites and find their capsule, they learn a great deal about the Moon. For one thing, the network of aerated caves and caverns in which the Selenites live is illuminated by a glowing blue fluid that flows toward a vast Central Sea at the core of the Moon. For another thing, the Moon has gold! – a discovery that fires Bedford’s greedy heart once he gets a good look at his chains in natural light. Imagine if it were discovered today that there are gold deposits beneath the surface of the Moon. How many private lunar prospecting expeditions would be starting to fit out for their journey by the end of the day? Bedford eventually finds the sphere and, concluding that Cavor must be dead or in the hands of the Selenites, returns to Earth. The NASA scientists at modern-day Cape Canaveral would be impressed to know that Bedford, with no prior experience or training in celestial mechanics or zero-gravity navigation, not only returns to Earth but manages to land safely on the beach at Littlestone, a Kentish town just seven miles from Lympne where the lunar journey began. Isn’t that a neat trick? With that moment, we get the first description I know of the physical strains of re-entry: The air hit me on the chest so that I gasped. I dropped the glass screw. I cried out, put my hands to my chest and sat down. For a time I was in pain. Then I took deep breaths. At last I could rise and move about again….I did not attempt to stand up. It seemed to me that my body must be changed to lead – no Cavorite intervening. I sat down heedless of the water that came over my feet. (p. 150). Bedford publishes the story of his trip to the moon as a science-fiction story, gaining (ironically enough) the literary success that he had originally hoped for when he first retreated to the coast of Kent; but then a Dutch scientist named Wendigee contacts Bedford, reporting that his Nikola Tesla-style radio device atop Monte Rosa on the Italian-Swiss border has picked up communications from the Moon. Not only is Cavor still alive on the Moon, but he is managing to phone home! Through this rather awkward and strained plot device, Wells is able to share more information about the Selenites – particularly, the extraordinary degree of specialization that exists among workers and intellectuals in their society: like what one sees among social insects like ants and bees, only more so. Cavor even secures an audience with the leader of all the Selenites, the “Grand Lunar”; but his hopes of being able to spend a lifetime in truly original scientific research are set at naught when he imprudently tells the Grand Lunar about life on Earth – all about life on Earth, including the way human beings are capable of treating one another. As Bedford bitterly puts it, His disastrous want of vulgar common sense had utterly betrayed him. He had talked of war, he had talked of all the strength and irrational violence of men, of their insatiable aggressions, their tireless futility of conflict. He had filled the whole moon world with this impression of our race, and then I think it is plain he admitted that upon himself alone hung the possibility – at least for a long time – of any other men reaching the moon. (p. 202) The First Men in the Moon may not reach the heights of The Time Machine or The War of the Worlds, if only because known lunar science quickly pushed this book out of the realm of science fiction that extrapolates from known scientific fact, and firmly into the realm of space fantasy. Nonetheless, however, Wells comes to the task with his characteristic verve and energy, and sets forth a compelling story that combines its scientific-romance what-if’s with some compelling social criticism regarding human frailty. We may travel from the Earth to the Moon, H.G. Wells seems to say, but we can never get away from who and what we are.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jammin Jenny

    I loved this story by H.G. Wells. He tells the story of a group of travelers who take a spaceship to the moon. When they get to the moon, they encounter a giant sphere which allows them to breath. They hear a steady beating of something inside the moon, like a giant clock. They see creatures that live within the moons surface. Some of the men are driven mad, some run away, but one stays and becomes the "ambassador" from earth. He speaks to the leader of the moon, the Grand Lunar, and tries to ex I loved this story by H.G. Wells. He tells the story of a group of travelers who take a spaceship to the moon. When they get to the moon, they encounter a giant sphere which allows them to breath. They hear a steady beating of something inside the moon, like a giant clock. They see creatures that live within the moons surface. Some of the men are driven mad, some run away, but one stays and becomes the "ambassador" from earth. He speaks to the leader of the moon, the Grand Lunar, and tries to explain how we do things on earth. It's really quite a remarkable tale and I loved every minute of it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Whyte

    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 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.

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