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Star Begotten: A Biological Fantasia (Early Classics of Science Fiction) Hardcover – September 12, 2006


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Product Details

  • Series: Early Classics of Science Fiction
  • Hardcover: 172 pages
  • Publisher: Wesleyan; New Ed edition (September 12, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0819567299
  • ISBN-13: 978-0819567291
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,762,070 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Mr. Wells is the most persuasive of living writers… He knows that we sigh for a sane world of unlimited possibilities. He catches us on the full wave of our wish… Star Begotten is the most mature of his fantasies.” —V.S. Pritchett, The New Statesman and Nation

Review

“A definitive scholarly edition of this notable novel. Huntington eloquently and subtly demonstrates its complexity and ambiguity. Star Begotten should receive a warm welcome.” (Patrick Parrinder, professor of English at University of Reading)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nash Android on August 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This short novel was first published in 1937, and seventy-five years later, I finally got around to reading it. It took me a while because I had to wait around for things like my parents to reach puberty, me being born, learning to read, and then realizing this book existed. I find this last thing surprising because, after reading it, I am amazed it does not have a cult following. There should be T-shirts and buttons for people who wish to identify themselves as Star-Begotten or Star-Born. Once you read it, you'll know what I mean.

The story centers on Joseph Davis, a popular writer of romanticized histories, who comes to believe that some people differ fundamentally from most of us. They are more rational, possibly more talented and intelligent. Who are these people? Why are they different?

After what amount to BS sessions with his friends and associates, Davis entertains the hypothesis that genetic mutations caused by cosmic rays are responsible for this new step in human evolution. One of his compatriots suggests that since the mutations appear neither random nor harmful, they must be intentional. Martians (as a euphemism for aliens) are tagged as likely agents. There is an interesting contrast presented here in which people of today (well, people of 75 years ago) jump to unscientific, irrational speculation to explain how people are becoming more rational. Wells is indulging in a bit of dry, tongue-in-cheek humor with this, I suspect.

But the cause of the mutations is not the central point, it's simply a dryly humorous plot device. The thought provoking question behind it is, `Is humanity really becoming more intelligent and more rational?' And the other question is, `Should it?'

This is not your average kind of novel.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on March 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
STAR BEGOTTEN was first published in 1937 and is a short novel - second of a series by Wells - which covers discoveries in genetic mutations. A simple event turns into a hysterical social reaction in this story of the possible return of Martians from War of the Worlds, and their impact on the nature of humanity itself. A key pick for any Wells fan.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
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Format: Hardcover
Released 39 years after his seminal sci-fi novel "The War of the Worlds" was published in 1898, and just two years before Orson Welles scared the bejeebers out of U.S. listeners with his radio play of that same novel, 1937's "Star-Begotten" finds its author, H.G. Wells, returning to the Red Planet to tell us more about those mysterious and pesky Martians. Written when Wells was 71, this latter work--rather than being a tale of action and mayhem and a truly groundbreaking instance of the then-still-new science fiction (or, to use the term that Wells preferred, "scientific romances")--is more a novel of ideas and speculation, of satire and bitter condemnation, and, I have a feeling, is a largely unknown work today. And that is a shame, as it is obviously a deeply felt work; an appeal to reason in a world slipping inexorably toward another world war.

In this short novel (it is roughly the same length as such early Wells classics as "The Time Machine," "The Island of Dr. Moreau" and "The Invisible Man"), we meet a youngish author named Joseph Davis. A writer of popular histories that uphold the glory and promise of humankind, and a man who has long since swept his own religious doubts under the mental rug, Davis, when we first encounter him, is a troubled soul. His wife has increasingly become a stranger, the imminent birth of his first child has left him in a panicked state, and his rosy-tinted histories have lately begun to strike him as so much bosh. And then he overhears a conversation at his Planetarium Club, in which several of the learned members discuss the possibility of mankind's increasing intelligence being the result of the cosmic rays that are constantly bombarding us. Could this be deliberate?
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Format: Hardcover
Among all Utopian writers, H.G. Wells might be the only one to show signs of rational thought. As with other writers, his thinking developed over time, and that development shows in his writing. This might be the earliest story in which he asks the question, "What if everyone just stopped acting stupid?"

Here, he starts with the question, "Why should people stop acting stupid?" The answer to that remains vague, since it doesn't matter much. The he asks, "What if just a few stop acting stupid? And who alive today will become those people?"

The answer, in proper Utopian spirit, might be the most optimistic possible - after reframing the question as "What if a few stop acting stupid at least some times?" Stated that way, we might have a chance. His later work, especially A Modern Utopia, expands on the theme, but this offers a very agreeable starting point.

- wiredweird
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By T. bailey on January 16, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Amazon has three entries for this one book, all with different publishers.

Star Begotten by H.G. Wells, with 1 review

Publisher: Woodhill Pr (June, 1977) ISBN: 0532125126

Star-begotten: A biological fantasia by H. G Wells

Publisher:Chatto and Windus (1937) ASIN: B0006D8YWW

Star-begotten: a Biological Fantasia by H.G. Wells (Author)

Publisher: Leisure Books (1970) ISBN: 0843900040

All three have several used books avaiable.
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