web site hit counter The World Set Free (Historical Fiction Books) (Volume 49) - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

The World Set Free (Historical Fiction Books) (Volume 49)

Availability: Ready to download

This chilling, futuristic novel, written in 1913, was incredibly prophetic on a major scale. Wells was a genius and visionary, as demonstrated by many of his other works, but this book is clearly one of his best. He predicts nuclear warfare years before research began and describes the chain reactions involved and the resulting radiation. He describes a weapon of enormous This chilling, futuristic novel, written in 1913, was incredibly prophetic on a major scale. Wells was a genius and visionary, as demonstrated by many of his other works, but this book is clearly one of his best. He predicts nuclear warfare years before research began and describes the chain reactions involved and the resulting radiation. He describes a weapon of enormous destructive power, used from the air that would wipe out everything for miles, and actually used the term "atomic bombs." This book may have been at least part of the original inspiration for the development of atomic weapons, as well as presenting many other ideas that would ultimately come to pass. Some ideas may still be coming, including a one-world government referred to as The World Republic, that will attempt to end all wars.


Compare

This chilling, futuristic novel, written in 1913, was incredibly prophetic on a major scale. Wells was a genius and visionary, as demonstrated by many of his other works, but this book is clearly one of his best. He predicts nuclear warfare years before research began and describes the chain reactions involved and the resulting radiation. He describes a weapon of enormous This chilling, futuristic novel, written in 1913, was incredibly prophetic on a major scale. Wells was a genius and visionary, as demonstrated by many of his other works, but this book is clearly one of his best. He predicts nuclear warfare years before research began and describes the chain reactions involved and the resulting radiation. He describes a weapon of enormous destructive power, used from the air that would wipe out everything for miles, and actually used the term "atomic bombs." This book may have been at least part of the original inspiration for the development of atomic weapons, as well as presenting many other ideas that would ultimately come to pass. Some ideas may still be coming, including a one-world government referred to as The World Republic, that will attempt to end all wars.

30 review for The World Set Free (Historical Fiction Books) (Volume 49)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    I read this when I was about 11 and I can't remember a thing about it, except that Wells predicts atomic weapons and they finally turn out to be a good thing. I suddenly feel I should re-read it! _________________________________________ Looking for something else, I just made a startling discovery. If we're to believe Leó Szilárd's Wikipedia page, Szilárd, a prominent nuclear physicist, read Wells's book in 1932 and was greatly affected by it. In 1939, with WW II clearly about to start, Szilárd I read this when I was about 11 and I can't remember a thing about it, except that Wells predicts atomic weapons and they finally turn out to be a good thing. I suddenly feel I should re-read it! _________________________________________ Looking for something else, I just made a startling discovery. If we're to believe Leó Szilárd's Wikipedia page, Szilárd, a prominent nuclear physicist, read Wells's book in 1932 and was greatly affected by it. In 1939, with WW II clearly about to start, Szilárd drafted a letter to President Roosevelt, urging him to fund a project which would develop an atomic bomb. Knowing that this would improve his chances, Szilárd persuaded Einstein to co-sign the letter; Einstein's illustrious name did indeed convince Roosevelt, and the direct result was the Manhattan Project, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the Cold War. But, so far at least, WW III has not happened. Wells's vision came true. Who says science-fiction writers have no influence on history? And check out the rest of Szilárd's life story - he was evidently a remarkable person.

  2. 4 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    As Iran and America ramp up nuclear war, it is time to reappraise this 1914 novel predicting the atomic bomb. In the wake of the worldwide nuclear catastrophe, Wells envisions a form of world state, a global government, to prevent complete armageddon, not unlike the formation of the UN after WWII. The one snag with this is that before humankind can arrive at a moratorium on murdering the pants off one another, multiple cities must be vaporised and leave a legacy of radiation ensuring anyone ente As Iran and America ramp up nuclear war, it is time to reappraise this 1914 novel predicting the atomic bomb. In the wake of the worldwide nuclear catastrophe, Wells envisions a form of world state, a global government, to prevent complete armageddon, not unlike the formation of the UN after WWII. The one snag with this is that before humankind can arrive at a moratorium on murdering the pants off one another, multiple cities must be vaporised and leave a legacy of radiation ensuring anyone entering Aberdeen in civvies will not see their fourteenth birthday. It is a regrettable aspect of our species that we prefer inflicting avoidable damage for ages before enacting the sensible shit, and then spend years doggedly unravelling the sensible shit to inflict new damage, ad nauseam, until we all die in pits of lime. Happy holidays.

  3. 4 out of 5

    John

    Like nearly everyone who has already reviewed this book, I found Wells’s prescience astonishing! Admittedly, this was my first H.G. Wells book and I expected the prose to be stronger. Nonetheless, one cannot help but suspect that all the prophetic aspects of the work (atomic energy and atomic weapons) were simply the frame wrapped around the driving force of his social commentary (calling for a World Government). Concerning this World Government, which could be bothersome for some readers, it s Like nearly everyone who has already reviewed this book, I found Wells’s prescience astonishing! Admittedly, this was my first H.G. Wells book and I expected the prose to be stronger. Nonetheless, one cannot help but suspect that all the prophetic aspects of the work (atomic energy and atomic weapons) were simply the frame wrapped around the driving force of his social commentary (calling for a World Government). Concerning this World Government, which could be bothersome for some readers, it should be noted that his vision also embraced some libertarian ideals as well. For example, the narrator points out that as time passed, this government was decreasingly needed or used. This government included progressive ideals also, including the electoral mode of proportional representation. Despite the faults and shortcomings (which seem a bit hypercritical since it was written nearly a hundred years ago) in Wells’s social criticisms and predictions, I amply commend The World Set Free for offering us such a positively hopeful vision of a post-apocalyptic World. If this is indeed the first nuclear based apocalyptic novel (which I feel safe in assuming), its vision of a post-nuclear war environment is indeed beautiful and unmatched in comparison to any post-apocalyptic work written after 1945 that I’ve read. Certainly there is good reason for this, but the vision is no less remarkable for it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Noah Goats

    I've been reading a fair amount about the development of the atomic bomb recently, and the title of this book keeps popping up. In The World Set free Wells predicts (in 1914!) the development of atomic energy and weapons. He also predicts the importance of air power (planes weren't every used in a significant way in war before WWI), and the coming of WWI itself (he thought it would come in the 50s, instead it came months after this book was published). I enjoy reading classic science fiction and I've been reading a fair amount about the development of the atomic bomb recently, and the title of this book keeps popping up. In The World Set free Wells predicts (in 1914!) the development of atomic energy and weapons. He also predicts the importance of air power (planes weren't every used in a significant way in war before WWI), and the coming of WWI itself (he thought it would come in the 50s, instead it came months after this book was published). I enjoy reading classic science fiction and discovering how intelligent men 100 years ago predicted the kind of world we would be living in now. I enjoy it when they get things right (Jules Verne predicting our voyage to the moon) and when they get things wrong (we would get their via an enormous cannon that would shoot us up in a huge artillery shell). And on this level, there were aspects of this book that were very interesting/entertaining. For example, I particularly liked how the atomic bombs were flown over their targets in WWI style open cockpit planes, and then just chucked over the side by hand after the bombardier had pulled the pin with his teeth. The first half of the book is packed with this sort of thing, and I liked it very much, the second half, however, really gets bogged down as Wells, having destroyed the world, recreates it as a utopia. This is boring, and the utopia (an anti-democratic, benevolent, totalitarian, technocratic, communist, one world government) is as naive as it is monstrous. Why Wells thinks that humans, who have a hard time agreeing even when grouped in relatively homogeneous nations, would get along singing kumbaya when forced into a world-state, is beyond me. And why he thinks world government would lead necessarily to peace instead of just making all war civil war, is also baffling. It's almost like he has never met another human being and doesn't know how we speak and act, and how passionate we can get about things like government, education, religion etc. Why would a world government make us act rationally? He never explains this. Also, this whole thing is written woodenly, and the characters are flat, bloodless and boring.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Vicky Hunt

    Who’s Watching Now? I undoubtedly will be spoiling the entire book, (including and not limited to the last paragraph) so if you want to read The World Set Free spoiler-free, then save my review for later. But, Wells’ ideas are not trivial and beg to be discussed.Though his writing was remarkably intelligent and he handles his topic brilliantly, he comes to very illogical conclusions, he seems dispassionate and cold in his writing, and it was stiff and almost boring at times, unlike his other bo Who’s Watching Now? I undoubtedly will be spoiling the entire book, (including and not limited to the last paragraph) so if you want to read The World Set Free spoiler-free, then save my review for later. But, Wells’ ideas are not trivial and beg to be discussed.Though his writing was remarkably intelligent and he handles his topic brilliantly, he comes to very illogical conclusions, he seems dispassionate and cold in his writing, and it was stiff and almost boring at times, unlike his other books, which is why I gave it only a 3 star rating. I have read only a few of H.G. Well’s many books, and find most of them imaginative, if not downright enjoyable. But, this was the first time I’d read his nightmare. He was a brilliant man, and a prolific writer. As you probably already know, if you are looking at the book reviews, the story is an imaginary World War scenario written in 1913, and it was published in early 1914… before the outbreak of World War 1 on July 28, 1914. Of course, everyone was expecting war at that time. It was not a shocking prediction. What was shocking was his prediction of the beginnings of mass destruction by mankind. Here, his words were poignant: “All through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the amount of energy that men were able to command was continually increasing. Applied to warfare that meant that the power to inflict a blow, the power to destroy, was continually increasing. There was no increase whatever in the ability to escape.” This book very quickly reminded me of John Lennon's Imagine And, here he begins to imagine a nightmare scenario, a nightmare in all its many facets, in which he imagines each of the following conditions… Mass Destruction on Earth? Wells predicted that mankind would “snare the sun,” by which he referred to the harnessing of the sun’s atomic power. His dream scenario starts with the beginnings of man and proceeds to this “final war,” and on into the development of atomic energy in the form of a bomb, which would be used to great destructive effect in war. He included the all too ghastly radiation fallout, with bombs that detonated repeatedly over many days, due to the half-life of uranium. “The gaunt face hardened to grimness, and with both hands the bomb-thrower lifted the big atomic bomb from the box and steadied it against the side. It was a black sphere two feet in diameter. Between its handles was a little celluloid stud, and to this he bent his head until his lips touched it. Then he had to bite in order to let the air in upon the inducive. Sure of its accessibility, he craned his neck over the side of the aeroplane and judged his pace and distance. Then very quickly he bent forward, bit the stud, and hoisted the bomb over the side. 'Round,' he whispered inaudibly. The bomb flashed blinding scarlet in mid-air, and fell, a descending column of blaze eddying spirally in the midst of a whirlwind.” The Beginning of the End? But, his fantasy didn’t end there. This destruction would cause “an epidemic of sanity to break out among the rulers of states.” Here is where his reasoning seems most bizarre to me. Somehow, this rather intelligent man thought that mass destruction would teach those bent on war anything. This sudden enlightenment would ultimately result in mankind coming together as one, in a full brotherhood of men. These godlike men would lay aside all claims to crowns and estates, and work together to bring peace and harmony on earth. This atomic energy would be applied to the useful energy source for mankind. Death in the Air? But, here it gets really interesting, because Wells set the date for the development of atomic energy as 1933, and in 1956 an atomic bomb will be used in war. Many people focus on the fact that he pushed the date so far into the future, as if he were hedging on a date. I didn’t see it that way, though. World War 1 ended on November 11, 1918. That war spawned numerous inventions. The big tanks began to roll, devastating battle fields in a way like never before. Wells had predicted the use of tanks in battle 13 years before in his short story, “The Land Ironclads.” The first modern hand grenade, the Mills Bomb, was invented 1915, and over 75 million were made during World War I. Likewise, Wells predicted the advent of battles in the air, in this book. WWI indeed saw the rapid growth of air warfare. Wells describes his vision of a dogfight as: “The aeroplanes were fighting at last, and suddenly about him, above and below, with cries and uproar rushing out of the four quarters of heaven, striking, plunging, oversetting, soaring to the zenith and dropping to the ground, they came to assail or defend the myriads below.” “Men rode upon the whirlwind that night and slew and fell like archangels. The sky rained heroes upon the astonished earth. Surely the last fights of mankind were the best. What was the heavy pounding of your Homeric swordsmen, what was the creaking charge of chariots, beside this swift rush, this crash, this giddy triumph, this headlong swoop to death? And then athwart this whirling rush of aerial duels that swooped and locked and dropped in the void between the lamp-lights and the stars…” Wow! Beautifully descriptive imagery, for such devastation. Among these archangel-like planes are 5 that carry atomic bombs. WW1 came and went without atomic energy being developed. But, the physicist Leó Szilárd read Wells’ book in 1932. In 1933 Szilárd conceived the idea of a neutron chain reaction, and patented it in 1934. He and his team then sent a letter to FDR urging him to take charge in the development of this particularly dangerous weapon, and the rest is the history of the Manhattan Project (1942-1946.) World War II lasted from 1939 to 1945, and ended with… a couple of atomic bombs wiping out two Japanese cities in August. The first chapter seemed quite dry, and it was difficult to hold interest through much of it. But, the bomb was dropped midway through the second chapter, and from there he had my attention. The book is probably one of the worst case scenarios of the prejudicial thinking brought about by evolutionary teaching in that time period. This is really quite common in that day though, and in all Wells’ books, as it was taught in Science. Throughout, the book is riddled with examples of white supremacy, which he hints at in the preface with: “…the native common sense of the French mind and of the English mind— for manifestly King Egbert is meant to be 'God's Englishman'— leading mankind towards a bold and resolute effort of salvage and reconstruction.” The Beginning of a Police State? This “Egbert” is a puppet fool, and quite a disgusting character, in my own opinion, though Wells seems to think highly of him. Wells envisions this king renouncing his titles and privileges, and hurrying on foot to lay his crown at the feet of the new world order, for the good of the world. Meanwhile, his assistant carries Egbert’s beer as well as his own, in the same style of servitude to which he was already well accustomed. Egbert himself points out that he will still be leading, as in having a part in the new world order government, just with a different title. Therein is the rub, as Shakespeare would say, for in one world government, we are merely trading a score of corrupt leaders who fight for control, for one corrupt leader with total power to dominate and subjugate the whole Earth. I wouldn’t want to give that kind of power to any old Egbert, be he king or jungle chief. But, the point of Egbert is that Wells believes the world can be rid of evil, greed, domination, and the wars of “flag and country” by a simple decision to live in peace. He seems to not be aware that all these evils are inherent in man, and will be in the world, so long as man is here. The following bit is eerie when we see Wells’ ideas forced upon mankind, and a king killed for rebelling against handing over his country. So, it’s the usual fare, with ‘submit willingly or die.’ This is an evil and sadistic philosophy in and of itself. And, world peace at what price? Wells was not only a Socialist, but believed in liberal Fascism, and promoted a police state type of “enlightened Nazi” one world government. The End of Private Property? Some of the other developments Wells wishes upon mankind include the end of most occupations, especially those involving farming and ranching where man works with animal excrement, which he thought of as a filthy occupation. Man would spend his days making art. He also ends money and ownership of private property, and we get to keep an apartment: “In the old days the common ambition of every simple soul was to possess a little property, a patch of land, a house uncontrolled by others, an 'independence' as the English used to put it. And what made this desire for freedom and prosperity so strong, was very evidently the dream of self-expression, of doing something with it, of playing with it, of making a personal delightfulness, a distinctiveness. Property was never more than a means to an end, nor avarice more than a perversion. Men owned in order to do freely. Now that every one has his own apartments and his own privacy secure, this disposition to own has found its release in a new direction. Men study and save and strive that they may leave behind them a series of panels in some public arcade, a row of carven figures along a terrace, a grove, a pavilion. Or they give themselves to the penetration of some still opaque riddle in phenomena as once men gave themselves to the accumulation of riches.” This destruction of wealth, private property, and freedom sounds all too familiar, in terms of political philosophies. Basically, he turns the Bible principle, “If a man doesn’t work, he won’t eat,” into the motto, “eat, drink, and be merry.” The End of Love? (After Free-Love?) Much of the writing style is quite emotionless and scientific, at least until the bomb is dropped. He sees love and emotions as something to be restrained for the business of scientific breakthrough and war. He says we have to move past our emotions because, 'You cannot stay at the roots and climb the tree.' He predicts that the need for love and human sexuality are just an adolescent “phase” mankind is going through, meant to balance out the dying by providing the temporary means of reproduction until we solve the dilemma of death. He believes that at first, after man is truly free, a time of “free love” will come: “…there is a vast release of love-making in the world. This great wave of decoration and elaboration that has gone about the world, this Efflorescence, has of course laid hold of that. I know that when you say that the world is set free, you interpret that to mean that the world is set free for love-making. Down there,— under the clouds, the lovers foregather… this release of sexual love and the riddles that perfect freedom and almost limitless power will put to the soul of our race. I can see now, all over the world, a beautiful ecstasy of waste; "Let us sing and rejoice and be lovely and wonderful." . . . The orgy is only beginning,” But, what is it the beginning of? He believes mankind will also put those appetites away, and live in a higher plain, as he “matures.” There in those “last days” Wells believes that mankind will have longer lifespans and live happy and healthy lives focused on art. That’s it… just art. I know, I know. It reminds you of Kindergarten doesn’t it?! Actually, it is beginning to sound like a prison rehab pottery class or more likely Hell. I already know I don’t want to go there. The End of the Battle of the Sexes? As if it were possible for two sexes to become one, Wells wanted to remove any differences in the human sexes. This leaves the question, if two become one, then which one will they become? On the topic of the feminist movement and the role of women, Wells’ character had this to say: "'I do not care a rap about your future— as women. I do not care a rap about the future of men— as males. I want to destroy these peculiar futures. I care for your future as intelligences, as parts of and contribution to the universal mind of the race. Humanity is not only naturally over-specialised in these matters, but all its institutions, its customs, everything, exaggerate, intensify this difference. I want to unspecialise women. No new idea. Plato wanted exactly that. I do not want to go on as we go now, emphasising this natural difference; I do not deny it, but I want to reduce it and overcome it.'" Wells wanted no division of the sexes, no need for reproduction, and no holidays or customs to distract us. If you haven’t got the picture yet, you will because you will be painting it if Wells gets his way. Incidentally, one of H.G. Wells many affairs (with his wife’s consent) was with Margaret Sanger, the feminist and birth control advocate. His ideas of free-love and his politics were evident in this book. The End of God? In this new age of the brotherhood of man, there will be no Father above. Therefore, having no source, like bastard sons who have no fathers, mankind will be disinherited from all the purpose for which the Creator designed him. Wells considers religion to be, ‘dead ideas,’ and says that “The inertia of dead ideas and old institutions carries us on towards the rapids.” I have to disagree with this assumption, as ideas don’t die. The Russian author, Feodor Dostoyevsky would have agreed with me on that one, had he lived to read Wells’ book. Ideas grow and circulate, never dying, and always reappearing. If you’ve ever taught public school and seen the comings and goings of “educational philosophies” in a full circle fashion, then you know that ideas are like neckties, out of fashion this year will be back in fashion eventually. They can only grow so wide before they must become narrower. Wells seemed in-desirous to admit the fact he was an atheist in his public answers, but the conclusion is obvious from quotes in this book. They are quite sad, mournful complaints of a mind that felt abandoned, or perhaps ignored by Heaven. Here are a few of those complaints from his own words: “If some curious god had chosen to watch the course of events in those northern provinces while that flanking march of the British was in progress, he would have found a convenient and appropriate seat for his observation upon one of the great cumulus clouds that were drifting slowly across the blue sky during all these eventful days before the great catastrophe. For that was the quality of the weather…” Here he wanted merely to describe the weather as being a cloudy day, and instead placed God upon the clouds in observation, as if God were some fickle quality of men’s imaginations, as changing as the weather. Continuing his motif with descriptions of what God would have seen, he says: “It may be that watcher drifting in the pellucid gulf beneath the stars watched all through the night; it may be that he dozed. But if he gave way to so natural a proclivity, assuredly on the fourth night of the great flank march he was aroused, for that was the night of the battle in the air.” If it doesn’t seem sacrilegious enough that he accused God of sleeping, look a little further… “…it was decided to 'nail down Easter.' . . . In these matters, as in so many matters, the new civilisation came as a simplification of ancient complications; the history of the calendar throughout the world is a history of inadequate adjustments…” The bitter double entendre of that is heart wrenching! It is as if he wanted to add nails to Jesus’ hands with his words. Sadly, it was Wells himself, and you and I who nailed Jesus on the cross, and here is the worst of his nightmare… as Wells is dead and his ashes scattered to the wind. With all his predictions, he did not see the signs in front of his face. He should have been more concerned with his own future, than with the future of mankind and the bomb. Death is not the prerogative of science. His vision, his discernment, his intelligence and wisdom, and his choices had a time limit. Science won’t be able to change that. Yet, Wells thought to do away with religion and God. The End of the Book? (And this long review... I promise) Here again, we see Wells consistently tearing away at all the old institutions of society as we know it. Was anything in his dystopia the same as our world? Yes, there was one similarity. There at the very end, in the last chapter, the character Karenin the cripple is preparing to undergo surgery to attempt to save his life. They do not expect the surgery to be successful, and he is expecting exactly death. So, it is no surprise that death is in the last 7 words of the last sentence of the book. He undergoes surgery, which is “successful,” and then dies from a blood clot. Here I am suppressing a hysterical laugh. Seriously now, how ironic is that?! They harnessed the sun, for crying out loud, and can’t stop this simple problem of blood clots after surgery that kills so many people even today?! What’s more, he is a ‘cripple.’ Please! You’ve freed mankind from cows and horses and can’t save his legs? It looks like you might want to keep God around a little bit longer!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jerry Pogan

    I hadn't read anything by H. G. Wells since high school but this sounded intriguing so I tried it. Wells was quite prophetic in his prediction of world war and atomic bombs when he wrote the book in 1913, before either had occurred, but he was off on the details. He predicted the war to occur in 1956 when it actually began shortly after he wrote the book. I find it very entertaining to read books about the future, especially those written 100 years ago so we can look back to see how accurate the I hadn't read anything by H. G. Wells since high school but this sounded intriguing so I tried it. Wells was quite prophetic in his prediction of world war and atomic bombs when he wrote the book in 1913, before either had occurred, but he was off on the details. He predicted the war to occur in 1956 when it actually began shortly after he wrote the book. I find it very entertaining to read books about the future, especially those written 100 years ago so we can look back to see how accurate they were. It just shows how hard it is to predict accurately. Wells was right about atomic bombs but in the book he had them being tossed out of aeroplanes by the passenger sitting in the open air seat behind the "steersman". So evidently planes hadn't progressed beyond those of 1913. There were lots of similar miscalculations of future developments but that should be expected. The actual purpose of the book was a proposal by Wells of a world government that he had forming after the mass destruction of the war. Although I found much of what he was proposing to be rather naive I think the idea of a world government is a good one. It was a very entertaining book with some rather humorous predictions but, also, very profound.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Warren Fournier

    This is one of the more unsettling pieces of sci-fi I've read. I say "unsettling" not because of the early predictions of use of atomic power as energy, and (as most often cited by other reviews) nuclear war, but by the future echoes of Brexit, Marine LePen, and the question of a viable European union. This book is as relevant today as it was in World War I. This novel was written in what many consider to be a low point in Wells' career, because Wells was by this point quite well off and well re This is one of the more unsettling pieces of sci-fi I've read. I say "unsettling" not because of the early predictions of use of atomic power as energy, and (as most often cited by other reviews) nuclear war, but by the future echoes of Brexit, Marine LePen, and the question of a viable European union. This book is as relevant today as it was in World War I. This novel was written in what many consider to be a low point in Wells' career, because Wells was by this point quite well off and well recognized. He thus fell victim to what we see in our celebrities of today. His art became less important than his agenda. Narrative took second billing to his own voice. Therefore, much of this work is expository. His self-importance emboldens him to rattle on about his own politics rather than couch his message in a story in which readers will sympathetically invest. In fact, it was hard to connect to anything in this novel at all. Wells was sympathetic to a one-world state, so he introduces "antagonists" who many readers do not necessarily identify as "bad guys." For example, a Slavic king (presumably of Serbia) is depicted as being the sole stubborn enemy of a world government. Wells would have us believe this king of an ignorant and barbaric people is stubbornly clinging to romantic notions of individual sovereign states. His cold-blooded demise at the hands of the United Council is chilling to the reader, but supposed to be justified. The days of independent nations warring constantly with each other must inevitably end or the human race will face extinction. Therefore, such populism must be controlled by a group of unelected intellectual elites who know better. Wells hates monarchies and colonialism so much that it is unclear if he ever realized his "inevitable" solution was being portrayed by his own hand as quite terrifying. This novel even suggests that the needed impetus to evolve humankind to the necessary New World Order was the nuclear holocaust, and that perhaps a few strategic atomic explosions here and there might be needed in the future to keep the masses in check. So Wells unwittingly fell into the same fallacious trap as seen in the 1951 film "The Day the Earth Stood Still." In that famous production, the alien Klaatu essentially tells humankind to join their One World Order "or else." Klaatu is from an intergalactic network of disarmed worlds living together in "peace." However, this peace is maintained by a band of robots who will destroy anyone who even looks like they will descent. Generations of fans have seen this movie as a Cold War morality tale, an indictment on the paranoia and aggressiveness of humans who still wage petty but deadly wars with each other. But do not fail to see the ultimate irony of Klaatu's "peace," which is that the One World Order is under marshal law and under constant threat of violence. But when this movie was made, the United Nations was still young, a reaction against the horrors of WWII. Similarly, "The World Set Free" was a reaction to WWI. And both stories wittingly or unwittingly espouse the propaganda of "give over control and obey!" "The World Set Free" pretends to sympathize with the common man, the laborer, the exploited, and the forgotten in an era where technology has created unlimited potential wealth and energy so quickly that our antiquated system of laws and economy could not keep up with the welfare of most the working-class. Yet, throughout the novel, the "masses" are portrayed as peasants, ignorant, incapable of anything other than their ancestral ape-like tribalism, and thus incapable of taking care of their own needs. Thus, this novel tells us how terrible and tragic it is that whole civilizations must succumb to rule of a few, but that is what will set the world free. Whether or not you share Wells' vision in this novel, it is definitely worth the read. It just goes to show how old this debate goes back in the history of industrialized nations, and invites modern readers to think seriously about what they want their own future to be.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Randy

    I enjoyed reading this book even though I was thoroughly aware of the predictions about nuclear weapons. In fact, that was some of the reason I picked the book up. I wanted to read this legendary story about humanity and nuclear warfare. What did surprise me were the predictions that are not discussed with the same regularity. For example, he discusses automation and how a great many people are not needed to produce products. There was a great disparity of wealth due to this decreased need for l I enjoyed reading this book even though I was thoroughly aware of the predictions about nuclear weapons. In fact, that was some of the reason I picked the book up. I wanted to read this legendary story about humanity and nuclear warfare. What did surprise me were the predictions that are not discussed with the same regularity. For example, he discusses automation and how a great many people are not needed to produce products. There was a great disparity of wealth due to this decreased need for labor in his story. This is a subject the world is dealing with at this time. Yet, there is a bit of a dreamer in Mr. Wells. I read how the world would gladly embrace a world government based on socialism. Like a many political dreamers in the past who wrote about an elite group of enlightened men, they assumed they would act on humanity’s best interests. Everyone’s needs were fulfilled, and people fell into activity to provide service to humanity as their skills allowed. I even took the barbs at our election process in stride. From the outside looking in, I am sure it is as much a circus to outsiders as it is for us Americans. But we Americans know something these men dreaming of communism, socialism, and oligarchy of philosopher kings seem to forget. It comes from our fore fathers being students of history. Our government is not one modeled on the belief that men are good. It is the belief that men are evil and need to be checked. I enjoyed your book Mr. Wells, and you had an excellent ability to look forward, but you can keep your World Government, which would eventually degenerate from a Utopia into a totalitarian dystopia. I will stick to the messy, loud, irritating American habit of politicians calling each other out, and the news reporting endlessly on corruption.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jacqueline

    This was an unusual book which at times is written in a very historical textbook-like manner in some distant future looking back upon our times. In other places, the narrative becomes more story-like and focussed upon certain individuals who have an impact on major events. This book is renowned for Wells' predictions of global warfare, the use of planes in battle and the development of nuclear weapons. It also places a strong emphasis on a social move towards gender equality and predicts genetic This was an unusual book which at times is written in a very historical textbook-like manner in some distant future looking back upon our times. In other places, the narrative becomes more story-like and focussed upon certain individuals who have an impact on major events. This book is renowned for Wells' predictions of global warfare, the use of planes in battle and the development of nuclear weapons. It also places a strong emphasis on a social move towards gender equality and predicts genetic engineering. This book also very graphically describes the violent consequences of war very well. It was ab interesting read, but despite the fact that Wells is one of my favourite authors, I do not believe from a literary stance that this is one of his stronger novels. Completed January 17 2014.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dee

    I have read other HG Wells books, and this one was on par with his part storytelling, part documentary-philosophy format, which is admittedly not always an easy read. Wells wrote the book in 1913, and the alternate history story he writes predicts such things as atomic bombs, an increase in capitalism, environmental degradation, and a one world order. Like most deep thinkers of his time, when he thought of the future, he foretold how bad it could be. But then he envisioned what he felt was a utop I have read other HG Wells books, and this one was on par with his part storytelling, part documentary-philosophy format, which is admittedly not always an easy read. Wells wrote the book in 1913, and the alternate history story he writes predicts such things as atomic bombs, an increase in capitalism, environmental degradation, and a one world order. Like most deep thinkers of his time, when he thought of the future, he foretold how bad it could be. But then he envisioned what he felt was a utopia and waxed philosophically along those lines for huge portions of the book. We do not have many characters to anchor ourselves in his vision, which for me made the reading difficult at times. In the beginning, we are introduced to humans generically, as a species. We’re taken through the species’ progress from early human onward towards a more scientific society and mindset. We are briefly given the storylines of some scientists, notably Holsten who unravels atomic energy, to help us grasp the scientific advance in the species' evolution. Then war breaks out and things escalates fast. We are given a view of this quickly changing world through the eyes of Barnet, a soldier, who at points recounts his experiences in the war. Fast forward, and we are provided a glimpse into the establishment of a one-world republic through the eyes of characters such as Leblanc and Egbert, but again, we're not given enough detail to invest in these characters - they serve as vessels to help us relate to the history that Wells is conveying. The last quarter of the book is shown in part through the eyes of a character called Karenin, and this is where I feel the book really started to fall apart in terms of helping the reader understand the society Wells envisioned. Karenin has many lofty ideas, some of which made me stop and think and others of which made me roll my eyes. He is the only character through which women are discussed in any amount. Before his part in the story, women are barely mentioned except as property or consorts of human males in general. Some of Karenin’s ideas of women again put Wells’ vision of society ahead of his time. The book ends abruptly and left the reader never having fully envisioned the society and world Wells finally brought readers into. We get no real glimpse as to what the day-to-day life of the average human is in the world he has created - we get only a lot of high level philosophical waffling. And considering that I really kept reading the book simply to get a glimpse of that world, I literally read the last few words and exclaimed "You've got to be f*cking kidding me" because I have never read a book that ended quite so abruptly and which left so many questions in the minds of readers, the foremost of which is "Why did I waste so much time reading this book????"

  11. 4 out of 5

    Al Burke

    Wells' foresight can be prescient at times. This book is no exception. Certainly not his best work though. Wells' foresight can be prescient at times. This book is no exception. Certainly not his best work though.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Denis

    I picked this out of my library to read as 2014 is the centennial of this novel’s publication. It is by no means considered an H.G. Wells classic such as “The Time Machine”, “The Invisible Man”, “The Island of Dr. Moreau”, “War of the Worlds” and so on. (I believe that it wasn’t reprinted in paper until the seventies – please correct me if I’m wrong). My first impression was that, at times, it reads like a collection of shorter works linked chronologically by a narrative of what seemed to be deco I picked this out of my library to read as 2014 is the centennial of this novel’s publication. It is by no means considered an H.G. Wells classic such as “The Time Machine”, “The Invisible Man”, “The Island of Dr. Moreau”, “War of the Worlds” and so on. (I believe that it wasn’t reprinted in paper until the seventies – please correct me if I’m wrong). My first impression was that, at times, it reads like a collection of shorter works linked chronologically by a narrative of what seemed to be deconstructed essays. It begins with man at his most primitive. This section is a bit reminiscent of his earlier “Stories of the Stone Age”, and moves on up through time resembling something more akin to his very ambitious “History of the World”, but in this case, it is more of the history of man. However, the subject of the book becomes more about general societal speculation. Wells looks closely as to how man has arrived to his current state the present time (1913 in the case of book) then Wells proceeds to project the trend fifty or so years into the future. “The World Set Free” is the first attempt of an idea Wells later took even further with “The Shape of Things to Come” published twenty years later (I admit I have not read this book but have seen the film that was based on it and consider it one of the most interesting films of its time (1937-9). What this novel is primarily noted for is that it is the first novel that employs the use and development of “atom power”. Aircraft, cars and eventually weapons are powered by the energy released from uranium and other heavy metals. This theme was very popular in the sf genre during the early 1940’s by the suggestion of Astounding’s then notorious editor John Campbell Jr., who encouraged his “stable writers” to explore this new and very real possibility in fiction. Heinlein once noted that all types of sf stories have all been told in one or another. Until I discovered this book, I would have challenged that this was a sure shot theme that Wells would not have covered, naively thinking, that this subject would have been entirely unknown at such an early date. Beyond that obvious point, was the segment where Well’s characters discussed sex and feminism. Wells’ take on this was, to me, surprisingly progressive. The sf writers of the so called “golden age” (1939-1950) rarely handled the subject of the future of femininity as well as Wells did here. He also mentioned the environmental consequence of the current rate of consumption of natural resources, which I also find notable. Aside from the remarkable prophetic foresight of some elements of the this novel, there are some that fall extremely short and ridiculous. This is to be expected, as making a call as to how the future might be is anybody’s guess. Try it for yourself. Pick any date, say twenty or thirty years hence and list all of your guesses, then seal them in an envelope not to be opened until that date. What you wrote will probably be the most comedic writing you’ve ever managed to come up with. Overall, “The World Set Free” is a mixed bag. Some of it is the stiffest writing of Wells I’ve read thus far, as other segments are absolutely beautiful and brilliant. However, it was a very interesting and enjoyable read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Akrabar

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Well what can I say? Another HG Wells classic. Written in 1913 and this is what he predicts - 1) He talks about the Dass-Tata engine that Bengali inventors have invented to run automobiles on nuclear energy. 2) Predicts patent litigation 3) Predicts an energy crisis 4) Predicts that even if we have limitless energy, society will be completely disrupted 5) Predicts aerial warfare 6) Predicts nuclear warfare 7) A new currency that is based on energy (not physical coins) 8) Imagines a world where people li Well what can I say? Another HG Wells classic. Written in 1913 and this is what he predicts - 1) He talks about the Dass-Tata engine that Bengali inventors have invented to run automobiles on nuclear energy. 2) Predicts patent litigation 3) Predicts an energy crisis 4) Predicts that even if we have limitless energy, society will be completely disrupted 5) Predicts aerial warfare 6) Predicts nuclear warfare 7) A new currency that is based on energy (not physical coins) 8) Imagines a world where people live for self-expression and try to distinguish themselves based on their skills and creative contributions (artistry, science, etc). Where money and causing hurt to others is not the object. He says its not an evolution of human beings. They just had to suppress some urges and promote something else. 9) Predicts that we will become a pill obsessed world. People will have always have pills in their pockets and will be bombarded with advertisements on medications 10) Great insight into how and why civilizations (Nineveh, Rome, etc) collapsed and how they were a mere shadow of what we can ultimately achieve 11) Laments how extreme and rampant individualism is to the detriment of collective good Ultimately this is an utopic novel. He hopes and dreams that one day mankind will rise from his lowly self and become something great. A classic.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ŧi̾l̷͖̀

    Slow, pedantic, naive and disappointing. Despite a few prophetic ideas this book was underwhelming. The world government was a bit too Euro-centric for my taste and it was proclaimed with too much dispatch. The ex-King Egbert, the King of the Balkans, the American president and "Home Rule" Indians were instances of racial, or national, prejudices... more than just an annoyance. I find Wells uneven in his writing, he could be brilliant as in 'The Time Machine' and 'The Invisible Man' (and please Slow, pedantic, naive and disappointing. Despite a few prophetic ideas this book was underwhelming. The world government was a bit too Euro-centric for my taste and it was proclaimed with too much dispatch. The ex-King Egbert, the King of the Balkans, the American president and "Home Rule" Indians were instances of racial, or national, prejudices... more than just an annoyance. I find Wells uneven in his writing, he could be brilliant as in 'The Time Machine' and 'The Invisible Man' (and please forget the terrible movies!) and he can be awful as in this novel or 'When The Sleeper Wakes'. As in the last title, this book was not engaging and it was difficult to feel for any of the characters. Disinterested would be a fair assessment of my mood while reading it. The ending was, for lack of a better word, blah and I was glad for those two beautiful words on page 138: THE END.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Simon

    So, HG Wells predicted f*cking everything, including the atomic bomb, the internet, designer babies, the carbon bubble, intensive agriculture, Leicester winning the Premier League, elevated toast, manspreading, floss harps and Tim Wonnacott. Sadly, by failing to predict the on-line betting exchange he was forced to rely on his desultory earnings as a writer rather than retiring to the countryside on his winnings. Re: book, first half good (nuclear power yields loads of fancy inventions but also n So, HG Wells predicted f*cking everything, including the atomic bomb, the internet, designer babies, the carbon bubble, intensive agriculture, Leicester winning the Premier League, elevated toast, manspreading, floss harps and Tim Wonnacott. Sadly, by failing to predict the on-line betting exchange he was forced to rely on his desultory earnings as a writer rather than retiring to the countryside on his winnings. Re: book, first half good (nuclear power yields loads of fancy inventions but also nuclear war, incorporating perceptive discussions of the socially disruptive effects of new technologies and of nuclear strategy- with the Bohr-Rutherford model of the atom not yet published when he wrote the book); second half less good (dreamy visions of an enlightened post-nuclear-war utopia, with a benevolent world government parking itself up a mountain and pontificating about a post-sex future). As always with Wells, it's easy to read and a huge amount of fun, and in its favour the second half did yield up this line which I rather liked: “Education is the release of man from self … Philosophy, discovery, art, every sort of skill, every sort of service, love: these are the means of salvation”.

  16. 5 out of 5

    MJD

    Excellent book by H.G. Wells. If you like another book by Wells you will like this one. While it can seem a bit dated with fears of nuclear technology leading to massive economic turmoil with unemployment through atomic tech replacing workers in the workplace and international turmoil with nuclear technology being used in warfare (i.e. we have been living in the "age of the atom" for a few decades now and it hasn't happened yet); I think that similar problems - and possible solutions - that he w Excellent book by H.G. Wells. If you like another book by Wells you will like this one. While it can seem a bit dated with fears of nuclear technology leading to massive economic turmoil with unemployment through atomic tech replacing workers in the workplace and international turmoil with nuclear technology being used in warfare (i.e. we have been living in the "age of the atom" for a few decades now and it hasn't happened yet); I think that similar problems - and possible solutions - that he writes of could be applied to artificial intelligence technology in the workplace and in the military given all the warnings that some contemporary scientists and economists have voiced about AI. Through substituting references to atomic tech with AI the book can still serve as a warning, and as a book of suggestions, to the contemporary reader (note: the warnings about atomic bombs should not be dismissed of course, but countries for the most part have acted more responsibly with them than Wells predicted). Also, it's worth pointing out that the book can be interesting to read solely based on the idea that a book published in 1914 about an imaginary history of the rest of the 20th century could get so much right.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Vivian

    He books always as message and the future. In this book, he used a word for the first time in this this world "atom bomb" and we see this in the second world war where this thing was used. Before writing and thinking the book he read a paper on radium and the energy it posses we lead to forword thinking something called called aton bomb which was unknown then , the radioactivity study before it was there simply blows away your mind, it was unbelievable. Whatever he thought in that time has become He books always as message and the future. In this book, he used a word for the first time in this this world "atom bomb" and we see this in the second world war where this thing was used. Before writing and thinking the book he read a paper on radium and the energy it posses we lead to forword thinking something called called aton bomb which was unknown then , the radioactivity study before it was there simply blows away your mind, it was unbelievable. Whatever he thought in that time has become possible or will become possible, he was the first one to think about the attack from Mars (in science fiction ) though idea was of his brother Frank, but he took it to the next level a the heat rotating gadget use by the them in the book. He also was critical about the misuse of the invention we do and believed that our invention will end our civilization , he visualized the world wars in his book before anyone and a brilliant idea of the time machine and the 4th dimension as such to locate the position of the object the space.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Selena Beckman-Harned

    Wells' 1914 tale of a world first ultra-modernized by atomic power, then mostly destroyed by it, then remade into a fabulous utopia with one language, one common government, and apparently no societal problems is on the one hand eerily prescient and on the other a bit laughably unbelievable. It's completely astonishing how Wells predicted nuclear war, but the utopia he describes is just cartoonish in its simplicity and lacks any details that would help me believe it could really come to pass. He Wells' 1914 tale of a world first ultra-modernized by atomic power, then mostly destroyed by it, then remade into a fabulous utopia with one language, one common government, and apparently no societal problems is on the one hand eerily prescient and on the other a bit laughably unbelievable. It's completely astonishing how Wells predicted nuclear war, but the utopia he describes is just cartoonish in its simplicity and lacks any details that would help me believe it could really come to pass. He skates around issues of race and religion and sex and basically just assumes that white European guys know what's best for everybody and will fix the planet. A fascinating, if plodding at times and infuriating at other times, read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    One of Wells lesser known works this is worth the read for those who enjoy the socio-political commentary of one of the worlds great writers. It's in the public domain for those who are interested...good stuff! One of Wells lesser known works this is worth the read for those who enjoy the socio-political commentary of one of the worlds great writers. It's in the public domain for those who are interested...good stuff!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Shugga

    I hope this wasn't HG Wells best work because if it was the rest of his writings must be horrid!! If you ask me what this book was about, I will tell you I have not the glimmer of an idea! I hope this wasn't HG Wells best work because if it was the rest of his writings must be horrid!! If you ask me what this book was about, I will tell you I have not the glimmer of an idea!

  21. 4 out of 5

    John

    Remarkable sci-fi by H.G. Wells written in 1914 in which he imagines what will happen when the world obtains nuclear energy. Biplanes dropping A-bombs, for example.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Peter Macinnis

    Well, what can you say about a book, published in 1913, which predicted the atomic bomb? OK, he had it being used on Berlin in 1956, but not bad, not bad ata all.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Willa Guadalupe Grant

    Such an amazing author! How did H.G. Wells know the things he knew? This story was horrifying & amazing & I really loved it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brittnie

    Instead of reading the book Read Vicky Hunt's goodreads review. Instead of reading the book Read Vicky Hunt's goodreads review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Chaitalee Ghosalkar

    The rating is more for the frighteningly close to reality vision of the author than the actual content.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tbfrank

    In 1914 Wells published what reads like a string of fanciful essays pretending to be a novel. Collectively, it is an indictment of the state of human affairs: economic inequity; broken, outdated institutions; and the militarism sweeping the world about to culminate in the cataclysm of 1914. It is a cautionary story about the danger of unintended consequences when science hands devices of incredible power and effect to humanity driven by old ideas and old prejudices. There are few characters to ca In 1914 Wells published what reads like a string of fanciful essays pretending to be a novel. Collectively, it is an indictment of the state of human affairs: economic inequity; broken, outdated institutions; and the militarism sweeping the world about to culminate in the cataclysm of 1914. It is a cautionary story about the danger of unintended consequences when science hands devices of incredible power and effect to humanity driven by old ideas and old prejudices. There are few characters to carry the story. Wells uses a memoir by an Englishman named Barnet to provide the historical backdrop detailing how cheap atomic power remade the world, first through massive economic dislocations then as horrific weapons of war. Barnet, formerly a member of the well-to-do middle class, unemployed and homeless like thousands of his countrymen struggles to survive. He is suddenly aware that his previously comfortable position blinded him to the true state of affairs for his fellow man: " 'In the days of my own prosperity things had seemed to me to be very well arranged.' Now from his new point of view he was to find they were not arranged at all; that government was a compromise of aggressions and powers and lassitudes, and law a convention between interests, and that the poor and the weak, though they had many negligent masters, had few friends." When one is well-treated, it is easy to assume everyone else is, too. If they are not, it is through some fault of theirs, not the system - the essence of privilege. Wells accurately predicted the opening of hostilities with the Central Powers attacking the Slavs and the British and French, the Entente including Russia, coming to the Slavs' aid. He also described how the unemployment problem was suddenly solved by the advent of war, somewhat like what happened prior to WWII. The entrenched forms of government, hereditary rulers, politicians, and lawyers all receive condemnation. He writes the problem arises from "the conflict of human egotism and personal passion and narrow imagination on the one hand, against the growing sense of wider necessities and a possible, more spacious life." Here he introduces the issue of religion without delving into the impact competing faiths have had on human events. He states "any road in life leads to religion for those upon it who will follow it far enough. . . ." and that "[T]he scientific thinker...comes inevitably upon the words of Christ..." Christianity receives full mention without regard for the world's other major religions and neither does away with nor explain the place of religion in the new society. Early on, Wells has the scientist who discovered the principle of atomic power which forcibly remade the world, consider the consequences of publishing his findings. He decided to do so for the potential benefits were staggering as well as unpredictable, and if he did not others surely would. He could not prevent his discovery from being turned into a weapon, and in the final chapter Well's observed, "Everywhere there were obsolete organisations seizing upon all the new fine things that science was giving to the world...and turning them to evil uses." Two-plus decades later Charles Lindbergh would argue steps should be taken to prevent the spread of mass destruction through the air. Wells captured the attitude this way: "It is wonderful how our fathers [the world as it was before the last war] bore themselves towards science. They hated it. The feared it. They permitted a few scientific men to exist and work...spare our little ways of life from the fearful shaft of understanding. But do tricks for us, little limited tricks. Give us cheap lighting. And cure us of disagreeable things." The attitude Wells described has not changed, ignoring facts in favor of personal interests and beliefs: "...for the most part the world went about its business...just as though the possible was impossible, as though the inevitable was postponed for ever because it was delayed." In the final chapter Wells broaches the relationship between the sexes in a dialogue/monologue between Marcus Karenin, a Russian member of the World Republic responsible for education, and several men and women. The conversation rambles and is somewhat unsatisfactory. The essence of Karenin's ideas seem to be that men and women should progress from identifying themselves through sexual roles. There is a sense that man and woman have been conditioned by society to view these roles as innate (i.e., gender roles) which imposes unnecessary limitations. Escaping that restriction will liberate all of humanity. Not an easy read but full of relevant thoughts. It struck me as a trifle naive given humanity's oddly rational reaction to the atomic disaster in embracing the idea of a World Republic in which parts bear a resemblance to Soviet collectivism. Honestly, I liked Greg Bear's introduction best.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dirck de Lint

    This is a re-reading, prompted by a recent look at a more recent work of Utopian literature and I realize why I didn't maintain the memory of it from the decade previous. It is very much a work of its time (just ahead of WWI), and it has the usual flaws of an older semi-political, semi-polemical fiction; there's a lot of unified ideas and attitudes all of a sudden, people en masse realizing the error of previous ways, which is hard to accept as a reader because such shifts are generally impossib This is a re-reading, prompted by a recent look at a more recent work of Utopian literature and I realize why I didn't maintain the memory of it from the decade previous. It is very much a work of its time (just ahead of WWI), and it has the usual flaws of an older semi-political, semi-polemical fiction; there's a lot of unified ideas and attitudes all of a sudden, people en masse realizing the error of previous ways, which is hard to accept as a reader because such shifts are generally impossible in a time-scale a reader can envision... or even, really, a writer. That's definitely the case here, because while Wells tries to set the changes in train with an apocalyptic war at the end of thirty years of technology-induced social upheaval, it still comes across as something of, "I'll just put this handkerchief over your late-stage capitalist world-view and... ALAKAZAM! Right before your eyes, an enlightened socialist Utopia!" I say this as someone who pines for an enlightened socialist Utopia, too. However, there are a few points that the modern reader can really enjoy if not become immersed in. Wells's conception of atomic bombs, a very early one so far as I know, falls in an interesting place between the pre-1945 theoretical poles of "it won't work" and "it will ignite the whole planet." While less instantly destructive than the devices as we know them, there is a real horror in the idea of a bomb that doesn't spend itself in an instant, but which keeps running until the effect of half-life decay reduces its active element to a size too small to do any harm. Yike. We are also treated to the early attempts to promote gender equality, from a chap living at a time when the vocabulary for that sort of thing hardly existed, and which to a modern eye are charmingly precocious and pitiably naive. Mixed in with that is what I didn't really recognize ten years ago as a foresight of the possibility of genetic manipulation for pure aesthetics; wild coincidence sees me reading an Iain Banks 'Culture' novel at the same time, for an odd before/after sensation.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Paul Spence

    This book presents an idea of the world advancing in a much different way that still shares a number of things with the world we have inherited and that we live in now. Wells had an imagination I find almost breath taking at times if you consider what he had to work with and what he imagined out of that setting. He presents a world battling among nations for just as ridiculous of reasons as that we kill each other for today. The idea of the world running short of resources as the number of people This book presents an idea of the world advancing in a much different way that still shares a number of things with the world we have inherited and that we live in now. Wells had an imagination I find almost breath taking at times if you consider what he had to work with and what he imagined out of that setting. He presents a world battling among nations for just as ridiculous of reasons as that we kill each other for today. The idea of the world running short of resources as the number of people on the planet increased was prescient and right on target. The thing that made the story pass slowly at times was Wells seems to have been preoccupied with the different political ideologies of his time. He's done this in a number of his books, almost drowning the story line. In his defense, many people of the early 20th century were either talking about, debating or involved in all kinds of political ideology experiments. No one had an "arm-lock" on which was the best way to govern, so maybe the story line Wells used was just a vehicle for him to hitch his "curiosity" to as he played the different ideologies off against each other. Regardless, the language usage, semantics and phraseology also takes its toll for a part of the book in the beginning, until your mind adjusts to the differences between the properly used English of Wells' time and what English has transitioned to in the here and now. I also found Wells' automatic supposition that given a choice in a matter, all people would choose to do "the right thing;" that their "common sense" would come to the surface and make them decide on an answer of what is "good for all men," no matter who the people are or where they come from. Was he naive in thinking that what is good for someone in Great Britain, would be accepted with open arms by someone in the India or China or Turkey of his his time? Or, perhaps he was just as self-centered and self-assured in his beliefs of right and wrong, as so many of his fellow countrymen of the time were. Rule Britannia? There are many other books by Wells that are much more enjoyable to read, but if you are up for a challenge and find the idea of a rather different world that is still very familiar and understandable, give "The World Set Free" a read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    James

    This book at many wonderous possibilities, but, failed to hit the mark in so many respects. On one side, we see, in part the return of Wells' 'Futuristic Writings', the newly discovered atom, the wonders of a new power source, and, the possible dangers to such power. All the combination of a great Science Fiction Story. To begin with, the story of the World War, was riveting. So many parallels with Shelley's "The Last Man". In the Last Man you have human life as it was when written, but in the y This book at many wonderous possibilities, but, failed to hit the mark in so many respects. On one side, we see, in part the return of Wells' 'Futuristic Writings', the newly discovered atom, the wonders of a new power source, and, the possible dangers to such power. All the combination of a great Science Fiction Story. To begin with, the story of the World War, was riveting. So many parallels with Shelley's "The Last Man". In the Last Man you have human life as it was when written, but in the year 3,000. Wells has adapted the same story to mans growth to harness the atom, ships and aeroplanes. But, in essence the same story, even down to the story line of mans wanderings through Belgium and Luxembourg. Then, it quickly goes array. Like with a good story, after man sees there folly of destruction and the power of the atom, man rises up and demands change, wants a new world order, a new future, a new direction. We turn the page, and, low and behold, we have a story similar to "In the days of the comet". Wells tries to promote and pushes his ideological view of the future. His 'new world order', going back to his great source of a "Fabian Utopian Future". Great in principle and ideology, but, his personal view of where he wants society to go. It was a very naïve view that he literally believe the concept of "oh no, disaster lets literally change everything NOW" and it seemingly worked. This book had all the portents of a great story, but, never achieved its ultimate goal as it ended up Wells trying to push his view of how the world should be but ending up making it seem all very drab and dreary. What was great about this book was looking at the power and destruction of the atomic bomb, even before Wells knew what it would be like to use one. Well, since this book had been written, the world has witnessed the Atomic Bomb being used, nuclear energy, nuclear disaster (at Chernobyl) and yet, the reality of what Wells had envisioned and hoped for has not come to pass.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Robert Spillman

    I had never heard of this book until I read "Age of Radiance: The Epic Rise and Dramatic Fall of the Atomic Era." The world's leading physicists (Einstein, Curie, Szilard, Fermi, Bohr, Heisenberg, and others) of the early 2oth century were located in France, Germany, England and Turkey. Starting with Marie Curie, this group was well on its way in defining the inner workings of an atom and this property Curie called "radioactivity." Wells was very interested in the discovery that radioactivity re I had never heard of this book until I read "Age of Radiance: The Epic Rise and Dramatic Fall of the Atomic Era." The world's leading physicists (Einstein, Curie, Szilard, Fermi, Bohr, Heisenberg, and others) of the early 2oth century were located in France, Germany, England and Turkey. Starting with Marie Curie, this group was well on its way in defining the inner workings of an atom and this property Curie called "radioactivity." Wells was very interested in the discovery that radioactivity released energy - a lot of it. Wells wrote this story in 1913 and it was published in 1914. I had never heard of it until reading "Age," which disclosed Wells had lunch with Leo Szilard, who was fascinated with Wells' recently released book, since it portrayed a new world order based on atomic energy. Wells was the first to refer to the idea of an atomic bomb, and he coined that term in this book. Szilard wanted to better understand Wells' vision of this new world, which was now supplied with "limitless" atomic energy, which produced great surpluses of food and goods. Wells builds a new world that can no longer be governed by traditional countries and their political borders. The old governments had brought the world to war (this was published just prior to WW1) and had destroyed the world's major cities with atomic bombs. I loved seeing Wells' imagination come alive in terms of predicting much of what happened to the world leading up to, ending, and following WW2. Atomic weapons had demonstrated such total destruction that countries saw them as critical defensive weapons. He postulates the need for science to lead mankind to greater riches, and an equal need to reorganize political systems to accommodate the stream of new developments. The final chapter includes a thought-provoking essay on the role of women in this new society. I found an ebook on Project Gutenberg.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.