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The Shape of Things to Come (Penguin Classics) Paperback – April 25, 2006

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New edition (April 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141441046
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141441047
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.1 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #938,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Herbert George Wells was born in Bromley, Kent, England, on September 21, 1866. His father was a professional cricketer and sometime shopkeeper, his mother a former lady’s maid. Although "Bertie" left school at fourteen to become a draper’s apprentice (a life he detested), he later won a scholarship to the Normal School of Science in London, where he studied with the famous Thomas Henry Huxley. He began to sell articles and short stories regularly in 1893. In 1895, his immediately successful novel rescued him from a life of penury on a schoolteacher’s salary. His other "scientific romances"—The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), The War of the Worlds (1898), The First Men in the Moon (1901), and The War in the Air (1908)—won him distinction as the father of science fiction.

Henry James saw in Wells the most gifted writer of the age, but Wells, having coined the phrase "the war that will end war" to describe World War I, became increasingly disillusioned and focused his attention on educating mankind with his bestselling Outline of History (1920) and his later utopian works. Living until 1946, Wells witnessed a world more terrible than any of his imaginative visions, and he bitterly observed: "Reality has taken a leaf from my book and set itself to supercede me."

John Clute is the co-editor of The Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction with Peter Nicholls.

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Customer Reviews

He had just come to realize that Stalin was a dictator, not a champion of socialism.
Patricia Heil
So in summary, `The Shape Of Things To Come' is a difficult book that doesn't necessarily reward you for the effort you're required to put in.
H. Jin
The introduction is supposed to be written by H. G. Wells himself who serves as the "transcriber" of Dr. Philip Raven's manuscripts.
New Age of Barbarism

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By H. Jin on April 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
With each passing year, H G Wells became more and more strident in advocating Socialism and the World State. And with every passing year, he became more and more embittered and pessimistic as his dreams went unrealised. Nowhere is this clearer than in `The Shape Of Things To Come', which despite discussing the "History of the Future" and making some startlingly accurate predictions, bears no resemblance to Wells' early scientific romances. There is some frame story in the form of Dr Philip Raven and his "dream of the future", but there's very little in the way of narration or storytelling in the traditional sense. `The Shape Of Things To Come' is essentially a very long and very serious essay representing Wells' most detailed outline of how a World State might be achieved.

In the first half, Wells begins by outlining the history of the immediate past and present (Book 1), and then-near future (Book 2) in the context of the development of a World State. This part of the book is very academic and can be quite heavy going at times. Certainly there is some interesting historical information here, presented in an unconventional context. But it is also very simplistic: the formation of a World State is portrayed as inevitable, the few people who advocated it are beatified as flawless visionaries, and everyone else dismissed as ignorant clods. It goes further than Victors' History; Wells is unrelentingly snarky and vindictive in savaging those who disagree with him.

Special mention must be made of Wells' predictions of the Second World War. While a number of his predictions were spot on (the date and location of its commencement), he gets it badly wrong in two ways.
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful By New Age of Barbarism on December 16, 2007
Format: Paperback
_The Shape of Things to Come_ is the Penguin Classics edition of the novel first published in 1933 by the famous science fiction writer and British socialist H. G. Wells which provides an account of the "history of the future" and offers predictions as to what the future (at the time of writing) will bring. H. G. Wells envisioned this book in many ways to be a sequel to the historical work _The Outline of History_ (1930) which attempted to predict future developments taking off from where "history" left off. This book is particularly prescient and offered predictions for a Second World War and the creation of a "World State" and world government. As such, it is apparent that the thinking of individuals in the milieu of Wells had a profound influence on the thinking of the elite who operated behind the scenes in the Twentieth Century to erect a world government. H. G. Wells (1866 - 1946) was a British science fiction writer of world renown best known for his novels dealing with various scientific predictions and developments. However, there is another side to Wells. Wells also had an interest in politics and was an avid socialist, seeking to redress perceived social wrongs, who joined the Fabian society of socialists seeking "revolution" through gradualism for a time. Wells ardently believed in the ideals of socialism and world government as the answer to Nineteenth and early Twentieth century discrepancies in wealth. Wells was also an historian who was influenced heavily by Darwinian thinking and science. This novel which is really more of a political outline for a utopia than a real "novel", provides a vision of the World State achieved through co-operation among nations, as well as predicting various Twentieth century events including the Second World War.Read more ›
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26 of 38 people found the following review helpful By T. bailey on January 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
From Google Groups Jordan179:

The book was published in September 1933, which means that it was presumably written up to a year earlier. This is interesting in terms of _when_ its "present" was (the early years of the Great Depression, and right when Hitler had taken power in Germany). It is also interesting to note that this was around the same time as _Last and First Men_, and that Stapledon and Wells, as two British socialist literary science fiction writers, almost certainly would have known one another in person. I wonder if there was some sort of informal challenge in their circle to try to "write about the future," or something of that sort?

_The Shape of Things to Come_, of course, is a far less ambitious work than _Last and First Men_, in terms of scope. While LaFM covers two billion years of the history of not only our own species but its successors as dominant sapient races of the Solar System, TSoTtC covers only about a century (to the 2040's) in any sort of detail, and gives some vague hints of what happens out to 2100. This is roughly 110 to 166 years past the point of publication, corresponding to the very earliest parts of Stapledon's book in terms of timescale.

The framing story is that this is the "dream book" (recording of a series of dreams experienced by) of Dr. Phillip Raven, a progressive-minded statesman, influential in the League of Nations, who died in 1930. As becomes apparent to his friend (presumably H. G. Wells himself), the dreams were accurately prophetic (he foretells the election of FDR among other things), channelling a history book written in 2106, and so Wells decides to write them up into this history of the future.

I say "history of the future" rather than "novel" with precise meaning.
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