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When the Sleeper Wakes (Modern Library Classics) Paperback – October 14, 2003
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Top Customer Reviews
In this dystopian novel, Graham falls into a coma-like sleep, a sleep that he wakes from some 203 years in the future. But times have changed. Due to the wise investments of a board of trustees, Graham's money has compounded into the greatest fortune the world has ever seen, and the trustees have used it to virtually enslave the entire planet. The common people know that those who use "The Master's" money are misusing it, and they pine for a time when the sleeper will wake and set things right. But now that Graham is awake, he finds himself a pawn in a world he little understands.
Overall, I found this to be an interesting book. H.G. Wells made a lot of predictions in the book that have sense come to pass, including airplanes, the rise of trans-national corporations that are not under the control of their nation of origin, the rise of a decadent class of useless, pretty, party-people (Hollywood), and so much more. The one fly in the ointment, however, was Wells' use of race. The leaders use an army of "Negroes" to control the population, "They are fine loyal brutes, with no wash of ideas in their heads..."
But, that said, I did find this to be a fascinating, forward looking book. Mr. Wells is rightly remembered for his near prescience in matters of science, and this book shows how much he knew about the future of economics as well. I highly recommend this book.
As it turns out, Wells had other concerns on his mind. The basic idea here isn't that far removed from the old tale of Rip Van Winkle, where a man displaced in time lets his experiences be extended into metaphor for the differences between those different times, letting the native culture shock drive the plot and turning the novel into part travelogue and part commentary. It's a useful device that taps into those unconscious curious longings we all have . . . who wouldn't want a chance to see how the far future turns out? Nowadays we have literary devices like time travel machines and suspended animation but in these days with SF in its infancy you didn't have all the cliches of the genre to just pick up and use when the need arose. You had to invent them. Having done a bit about a time machine already, he decided to take a different tactic and go with the magical realism route. Thus, Graham simply gets very tired and falls asleep for a very long time.
That's when the fun begins. Feeling extraordinarily rested, Graham learns that not only has he become a sort of legendary figure to the masses for his amazing ability to . . . sleep (Tilda Swinton and your performance art exhibit, eat your heart out!) but thanks to the magic of compound interest and the fact that no one ever thought he would wake up, he basically owns ninety percent of everything in the whole world, making him a true master of the Earth.Read more ›
from the very beginning, the beauty of the writing is that it shares the sense of dislocation and naivete of the protagonist most eloquently. a man waking in a future world where what he sees around him is totally unfamiliar, yet what lies underneath is an expression of barbarism that a post-enlightment intellectual would surely find abhorrent.
the technology wells envisions is perhaps the most telling sign of his intensly perceptive style. the only inline editorial note is towards the end, where an insert advises that wells is writing of aeroplanes 11 years before the first took to the sky and of aerial fighting 18 years before the first dogfight (although once you've made it to flying, it's not that very large a mental gap at all to flying and fighting together...). alongwith telephones, televisions and the classic moving pathway or travelator (found also in asimov, the fantastic planet and others), the other main visual vocabulary is in the architecture. It's all about the scale and in this you could maybe argue (if you were stoned and theoretically ambitious...) that future comrades-in-architecture took some inspiration. which is to say that it reminds me of beijing and berlin, the only two cities i've visted that either were or are communist.
but it's the social commentary i enjoy the most. a rather dark piece of commentary it is too, marking it alongside brave new world, 1984 et. al. the most unsettling part about reading this was to ponder in 2005 the questions wells was asking in 1899.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Over the last few years publishers have been dragging public domain works off the shelves, blowing the dust off classics, and selling them to travelers on the cheap. H. G. Read morePublished on April 21, 2014 by Gregory Alan Wingo
H.G. wells is the master of modern fiction all of his books i have read have been outstanding! I can't recommend this edition enough ! You will thoroughly enjoy this great work ! Read morePublished on February 6, 2012 by Stephen L. Singer
When the Sleeper Wakes is one of the earlier works by H.G. Wells. Perhaps not as exciting as War of the Worlds or The Time Machine, it nonetheless imagines a future when big... Read morePublished on July 6, 2010 by Ozoner
Until I visited the Modern Library website, I had never heard of this novel, but it was so intriguing I immediately ordered this edition from Amazon. Read morePublished on November 3, 2009 by Alric the Red
When the Sleeper Wakes was a pretty good book. It was a little boring in some spots though. This wasn't one of H.G. Wells' better stories. Read morePublished on December 17, 2007 by Rodney V. Bengford
A nineteenth century nonconformist and activisit pulls a Rip Van
Winkle, and wakes up a couple of centuries later. Read more