Posts Tagged ‘Herbert George Wells’

Coincidence: On my tour of the popular culture of 2012, my trip to Las Vegas and Yann Martel

December 23, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 23, 2014

Lately, entirely by coincidence, I’ve been reading and reviewing book and movies from 2012: Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, Nick Harkaway’s Angelmaker, Ben Affleck’s Argo, Dennis Lehane’s Live by Night and (back in September) Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. Now, entirely by coincidence, this week, I’ll have two blog posts connected to Canadian novelist Yann Martel.

Why? Coincidence.

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Like father, like son? Identity is inextricably tied to parentage in Nick Harkaway’s ‘Angelmaker’

December 18, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 18, 2014

Absent parents loom large in the fictional realm. A key component of the original Star Wars trilogy is Luke Skywalker’s gradual discovery of the particulars of his parentage (especially the villainy of his father, the genocidal Darth Vader) and Luke’s struggle to develop his supernatural powers without being consumed by his own dark, angry impulses. The rebellious nature of the alternative timeline’s James Tiberius Kirk is shaped in large part by the absence of his father, George, whom director J.J. Abrams killed off in the opening sequence of the 2009 Star Trek reboot. Likewise, the rebooted Amazing Spider-Man makes the research and relationships of Richard Parker, father of the orphaned web-slinging Peter Parker, a key plot point in both of the series’s first two outings.

I’d wager that matters of parentage are even more prominent in British fiction. After all, the United Kingdom has been ruled for centuries by a hereditary monarchy, with power passing (at least in theory) from one generation of royalty to the next.

A major storyline in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy involves Aragorn assuming the position of king of Gondor that, according to genetics and custom, is rightfully his. My recollection of the books is hazy, but in Peter Jackson’s wonderful movie adaptation, when the audience initially encounters this character, he goes by the name of Strider and appears to be a well-trained woodsman accustomed to operating on his own — hardly the résumé of the standard fantasy prince.

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Louts and strivers, united by their desire to exploit the weak: H.G. Wells expounds a dark vision of humanity in ‘The Invisible Man’

December 16, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 16, 2014

Herbert George Wells’s sixth book, The Invisible Man, in 1897, continued a very productive writing career that had begun in 1895 with the publication of a debut novel and two other works. Wells’s first volumes included a short-story collection, a comic novel (The Wheels of Chance, which revolved around bicycling), and four science-fiction novels. One of those works, The Wonderful Visit, is obscure; the others are anything but.

The Time MachineThe Island of Dr. MoreauThe Invisible Man and Wells’s seventh book, The War of the Worlds, published in 1898, develop seminal science-fiction tropes. Not only are these themes — time travel, scientific overreach, all-out war against implacable alien foes, the ability to move without being seen — threaded throughout the history of science fiction, Wells’s very stories themselves have been produced for television and film many times.

Since 2004, no fewer than five movies inspired by The War of the Worlds have been released; it was also (very loosely) the basis for a 1980s TV series and a classic 1953 movie. The most recent Island of Dr. Moreau film appeared 18 years ago; it followed in the footsteps of three 1970s adaptations as well as versions from 1959, 1932 and 1921. There have been five movies based on The Time Machine, with a sixth due out next yearThe Invisible Man has inspired an even longer string of movie and TV screen (non-)appearances, including a TV series unfamiliar to me that aired from 2000 through 2002, although the book’s most famous screen incarnation might still be the 1933 version starring Claude Rains in the title role.

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Science fiction and sociology: Considering ‘The Time Machine,’ H.G. Wells’s pioneering science fiction novel

December 13, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 13, 2014

The year he turned 29, Herbert George Wells published his debut novel. It was the first of dozens of volumes penned by Wells and the start of an incredibly fertile period for the author. Within four years, Wells had produced seven books, four of which made a lasting impact on the then-new genre of science fiction.

These volumes were the science fiction novels The Time Machine and The Wonderful Visit and the short story anthology The Stolen Bacillus, all published in 1895; a third science fiction novel, The Island of Dr. Moreau, and a comic novel, The Wheels of Chance, which plays off of the newfound popularity of the bicycle, both published in 1896; and two additional science fiction novels: The Invisible Man and The War of the Worlds, published respectively in 1897 and 1898.

In 2003, the Barnes & Noble Classics imprint compiled The Time Machine and The Invisible Man in a single volume that included a timeline of Wells’s life, a short biography of the author, explanatory and interpretative notes, and four contemporary reviews of the two works. The biography and notes were written by Alfred Mac Adam, a professor of literature at Barnard College (who, interestingly, appears to specialize in Latin American literature).

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