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The First Men in the Moon (Penguin Classics) Paperback – September 27, 2005
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About the Author
China Mieville has won the Arthur C. Clarke and British Fantasy Awards for his science fiction.
Patrick Parrinder has written on H.G. Wells, science fiction, James Joyce and the history of the English novel. Since 1986 he has been Professor of English at the University of Reading.
Steven McLean is Secretary of the H.G. Wells Society. He recently completed his PhD on H.G. Wells at the University of Sheffield.
- ASIN : 0141441089
- Publisher : Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (September 27, 2005)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780141441085
- ISBN-13 : 978-0141441085
- Reading age : 18 years and up
- Lexile measure : 1130
- Item Weight : 6.7 ounces
- Dimensions : 0.75 x 5 x 7.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,397,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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By Mark on November 5, 2017
"The First Men in the Moon" suffers from its now-known lack of accuracy in details regarding the moon, but that makes it no less enjoyable. In fact, this is one of the more carefree and adventurous of Wells' books. From the moment Mr. Bedford encounters an inventor named Cavor to the moment they leave earth's atmosphere to the scenes in which they battle Selenites in the craters of the moon, we are pulled along in this surprisingly fast-paced, funny, and creative tale. And, though some details are now outdated, there are quite a few that proved remarkable accurate, considering men did not land on the moon for nearly seven decades after this book was penned.
I loved Wells' ideas with the fauna, mooncalves, and social systems within the Selenite colonies. He brings great energy and fun to this story. Near the end, he proves his prophetic abilities when he says, "All about me . . . a leathery noise like the rustling of beetle wings, and a great bleating and twittering." Seems he even predicted Twitter. Regarding a book as serious as "War of the Worlds," I would never make such a wisecrack, but "The First Men in the Moon" is a book worth a few hours of fun, adventure, and a few smiles along the way. Only in its final pages does Wells give us a characteristic caution, and one with a touch of sad irony.
First, there's Mr. Bedford, who has no scientific training and mooches a ride to the moon with Mr. Cavor, where he plots all his business ideas and bludgeons scores of moon people to death with a solid gold crowbar. He goes home, a stupid little kid accidentally flies off in the Cavorite sphere, and that's that. Good times. Convenient how he, against the extremely long odds mentioned by the narrator, not only gets back to earth, but back to England.
Next, there's Mr. Cavor, who gets left on the moon more or less out of necessity, and perhaps by his own choice. The Selenites track him down, and begin to communicate with him. How inconsiderate of Mr. Cavor to make them all learn English instead of him learning their language, especially since they only have one language globally. Here we get into the book's social commentary, which Wells was always big on but which posterity has forgotten in favor of his science fiction elements. Is it truly by accident that Cavor mentions that he's the only way humans can get back to the moon, and that he fails to send earth his formula for Cavorite? Or is he conveniently trying to keep the indigenous peoples from being trampled down by the earth's world powers? Plus we have the Selenites' interesting social structure, like communism, to the extreme.
Reading this book for the first time in the twenty-first century, one's thoughts go like this: "Hey, Wells made some pretty decent predictions about helium and the moon...well, except for the moon plants...and the giant moon cows...and the moon ant people. Never mind."
Wells was a great writer, though, and this story is engaging and, early on, humorous. Seems like he was trying to outdo Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon and its sequel. The First Men in the Moon is over the top in this day and age, maybe, but in 1900 nobody knew any better. Well done, sir.
The plot of the novel sees an inventor (Cavor) and struggling playwright (Bedford) travel to the moon after the inventor's discovery. Stranded, they encounter the inhabitants of the moon. Bedford, finds their intentions to be hostile despite Cavor reluctantly disagreeing. Tyring to escape from the moon, Cavor again falls into the custody of the moon people. Cavor is left behind but far from forgotten.
Though Bedford is the main character, Cavor shines as the mouthpiece of H.G. Wells' social views. Many of Wells' observations are still appropriate today. The final chapters seem to run too long, and may not be entirely necessary. At the point they are placed in the book, they add little to the plot.