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The Food of the Gods: And How It Came to Earth (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – December 27, 2005
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Despite the obvious scientific commentary by Wells in this book, the larger meaning focuses on the means by which vast social changes occur. A particularly illuminating section of the work details the impressions of a man emerging from jail. He had been removed from society since before the arrival of the Food and upon his release, the seemingly gradual changes in the function of society are seen by the formerly imprisoned man as incomprehensible. When he asks his brother to explain the incredible changes, his brother responds as though all the changes are merely life-as-usual.
Since the sections are written from differing perspectives, it is difficult to determine whether any narrator or the author side with the Giants or the regular men. Wells' writing might favor the Giants. When the Giant children grow up and begin to determine their own fates, they are written as far more sympathetic characters than their normal-size counterparts. Furthermore, the Giants' speech and beliefs are more noble and hopeful and future-minded than the normal-size people. However, after the first battle, the speeches of the Giants at the very end of the book may serve to persuade the reader that they are to side with the regular-size people. The Giants are concerned only with largeness, with dumping quantities of the Food on cities so that children (against the will of their parents) will begin to grow. The Giants' plan is to continue this attack until eventually the tide turns in their favor and children attacked by the Food begin to outnumber the older generations of regular-sized people.
But it is clear that this an attack--an act of aggression which should be chilling. The Food does not work on adults - only on children. One can imagine mothers and fathers horrified that their beloved children are slowly becoming the very monstrous creations they fear most. Furthermore the Food is essential. Once a child has been exposed to the Food, it must continue to get the Food until it has passed through puberty or it will DIE. These parents whose children have been exposed now face a horrible choice: procure more of the Food and keep feeding it to the child or allow the child to die.
But none of that appears in the book. It is simply the logical conclusion to the ending speeches of the Giants who intend to continue to expose whole cities to the Food. But as mentioned, the Giants are obsessed with bigness. At the end they take no more thought for themselves and their struggles against a hostile world. Their one goal becomes bigness and more bigness until the world will be too small to hold them. Unlike the creators of the Food, the Giants never even imagine that just because they CAN, is it true that they SHOULD?
In the Food Of The Gods two men, Mr. Bensington and Professor Redwood put their knowledge together to make a chemical that allows an animal or plant continuous growth without need for it to stop to build up energy or material.
Soon mankind is dealing with giant wasps, chickens, grass and all kinds of harmless or very dangerous creatures. And soon babies are given the BoomFood to make them into giants. What should mankind do with the giants? Employee them? Bar them from the rest of civilization? Kill them?
The novel is full of humor, mostly pointed at the class system, scientists, the common man and society in general. There is even a slight hint that each new generation THINKS of itself as giants, as big minds with big ideas.
The funny part was the slow change of the characters' impressions on me, as I started to think of the normal sized humans as pigmies near the end and the giants as the normal sized humans. This was done mostly by allowing them to become the major characters, shifting the point of view, so we started to see more of the giants, their way of life, their problems and less of the normal humans. Also, the normal humans seemed to whine a lot.
Clearly this novel has effected many other books and many, many sci-fi B-movies. THEM just to name one. Get it used or new.
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