Monday, September 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Mr. Wells

Today is H.G. Well's Birthday. Wells, as every school boy knows, is the author of The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, The Food of the Gods, and many many other books, including my personal favorite The Time Machine. I bet I've read the first chapter of The Time Machine fifty times. There's just something about that opening scene where the time traveler and his friends gather around the small model of the time machine prior to the model being sent whirling off into the future that fascinates me. The care with which Wells set up that scene is amazing. It's the thing that pulls the reader into the book and makes him believe that maybe time travel could be possible if one just had the proper mathematics.
If memory serves, I saw the George Pal movie The Time Machine before I read the book, but probably not by much. I read the novel fairly early on. I loved that movie as well and my cousin and I built several full size mock ups of the time machine from plywood and leftover parts from chicken brooders. (My family once raised chickens and there were quite a few big sheet metal structures left over. We tore them apart and built things with them throughout my childhood.) Oh, and Nicolas Meyer's 1979 film Time After Time, which features a time traveling H.G. Wells pursuing Jack the Ripper to present day San Francisco, is another favorite.
Along with Jules Verne, Wells was considered one of the fathers of science fiction and certainly many of the concepts he created have been used over and over through the years. War of the Worlds, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Shape of Things to Come, The Food of the Gods. Amazing stuff.
I used Wells as a character in a story once and ended up reading a couple of Biographies for research. David C. Smith's H.G. Wells: Desperately Mortal was probably my favorite. Might have to give that a re-read at some point. Anyway, Herbert George Wells remains a classic author all these years later and someone who has given the world much to think about. So Happy Birthday H.G.

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