Monday, June 29, 2009

A Modern Utopia, by H.G. Wells

This novel is a blend of fiction and philosophical rumination. It’s interesting, as far as that sort of thing goes, but doesn't really dazzle as a novel in its own right. It's more of an experiment, really. In this literary experiment, Wells discusses much of the utopian literature, from Thomas More’s Utopia to Plato’s Republic, making the book read like a free wheeling essay.

As you’d expect, many weird and wonderful ideas are put forth, some quite alarming. If anything, it makes you realise how the whole idea of a utopia is pie in the sky stuff. Societies that have tried have ended up creating the opposite – dystopias. Think Hitler’s Germany and Lenin’s Russia. The reality is, all societies should accept failure and miscarriage as an important part of civilisation.

To be honest, I sped read through the last twenty or so pages, as I felt the novel had exhausted its possibilities. This is not to say it’s a bad novel. It should really be approached as a literary curio.

For me, I’m not sure I’m a fan of science fiction, as the star of these books is always an idea or a technology, rather than a person. In your regular fiction, the author always concentrates on psychology. Shakespeare has Hamlet, whereas Wells has his Time Machine.

This may well be my last H. G. Wells novel!

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