A Day in Bromley Central Library with H G Wells 24th September 2016


To mark the 150th anniversary of H.G. Wells’s birth in Bromley:

A Day in Bromley Central Library with H G Wells:
The Man Who Invented the Future
24th September 2016
Large Hall, 4th Floor
Bromley Central Library

11.15 Registration with coffee, tea and soft drinks

11.45–12.45 The Bromley Visionary – with speakers including Dr Emelyne
Godfrey, Dr Andrew M Butler and Dr Michael Sherborne

12.45 Book Signing by Deborah McDonald co–author of A Very Dangerous Woman – A biography of Moura Budberg the last love of H G Wells

13.00–14.00 Break – N.B. light snacks and nibbles only, available in the hall

14.00 Unveiling of a bust of H G Wells in the library by the Mayor of Bromley

14.30–15.30 A talk by the novelist Christopher Priest entitled – “H G Wells … my contemporary”

15.30 Break – Coffee, tea and soft drinks

15.45–16.30 An opportunity to view selected items from the extensive Wells archive at Bromley Central Library, introduced by Professor Patrick Parrinder

17.00 A conducted walk of Wellsian Bromley led by Tony Banfield of the Bromley Civic Society
For further details and updates see: https://anticipations2016.wordpress.com.

▫▫▫▫▫▫▫▫▫▫▫▫▫▫▫▫▫▫▫▫▫▫▫Tickets for the day £8.00 or £6.00 if purchased in advance via The H G Wells Society.

Please make cheques payable to: “The H G Wells Society”, or pay directly into our Barclays bank account:   Sort Code:  20–32–00 – Account number:  30958530

Cheques should be sent to: 20 Upper Field Close, Hereford, HR2 7SW

Please contact Valerie Fitch – Treasurer – valerie.fitch@btinternet.com for more payment information only.
Link to The H G Wells Society

Conference Thanks


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Note: The thanks below were written by Paul Allen, my co-organiser, and omit him thanking himself for the huge amount of work he did in liaising  with the conference centre, printing the programmes and sorting badges, as well as numerous elements that made the conference possible over the weekend.

Thank Yous and Acknowledgements

As with all events their success is not only due to the participants but also to all those who have worked behind the scenes.

A special thank you is due to Andrew M. Butler, my co-organiser, whose professionalism and attention to detail has been invaluable. Without him the conference would not have been possible. I am also very grateful to our treasurer Valerie Fitch for keeping us on the straight and narrow with the finances and for providing a very firm backbone to the organisation. Thanks must go to the paper review team consisting of Dr Emelyne Godfrey, Professor Patrick Parrinder, Dr Michael Sherborne, Dr Maxim Shadurski and again to Dr Andrew M. Butler who did a very thorough and perceptive job. Through all this, our secretary Eric Fitch has provided calm and important back up to all our efforts.

We are grateful to our plenary speakers, Stephen Baxter and Lesley A. Hall, who have generously given of their time and expertise. Similarly, we are indebted to all those who agreed or offered to give papers.

Thanks also to our post-banquet reader, Richard Crowest (http://crowest.co.uk/).

We are indebted to Professor Peter Beck for kindly leading our walk around Wells’s Woking.

Oneworld, publisher of Deborah McDonald and Jeremy Dronfield’s A Very Dangerous Woman: The Lives, Loves and Lies of Russia’s Most Seductive Spy, sponsored the drinks reception on Friday.

Zanna Allen (http://www.zannaallenillustration.co.uk/), designed the programme front cover, troubleshot some technical problems and we owe her many thanks for this.

We are indebted to the conference centre team led by Chris Norrington, ably assisted by Michelle Chilcott and Ian Johnson.

Perhaps most importantly of all I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Woking Borough Council – and their H.G. Wells year event team led by Riette Thomas – who have encouraged and supported this conference both financially and administratively from the beginning. See http://www.celebratewoking.info/wellsinwoking for further details of their ongoing events.


For (some) tweets from the event, see https://twitter.com/hashtag/wells2016?src=hash&lang=en-gb and for the next H.G. Wells Society event see here.



Richard Crowest


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We will be following the Saturday night banquet with some readings from H.G. Wells by Richard Crowest.

Richard Crowest is a performer and writer with over twenty years’ experience in theatre, television, radio, corporate work and the heritage industry. His voice can be heard in Our Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, the British Library and at dozens of National Trust properties, notably Bateman’s, Burwash, East Sussex, where he’s the voice of Rudyard Kipling. His readings of Saki and E.F. Benson are enjoyed around the world. He voiced Gerald Wilde in Big Finish’s “The Darkest Shadow”, part of their Dark Shadows series. His readings of E.F. Benson ghost stories can be found at http://corvidae.co.uk/benson/ and of Saki at http://corvidae.co.uk/saki/

War of the Worlds Virtual Battlefield Tour


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At the end of Anticipations there will be an opportunity to join a guided walk led by Professor Peter Beck of War of the Worlds Virtual Battlefield Tour. To join the walk, meet him at the town square at 2.30 near Barclays Bank.


To download the map of the walk see here.

Further details of the walk may be found here: WAR OF THE WORLDS VIRTUAL BATTLEFIELD TOUR 2016 july 11


Paper Session G: Adapting Wells


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Anticipations: H. G. Wells, Science Fiction and Radical Visions
A Conference at Woking, 8-10 July 2016
Abstracts * Accommodation * Programme * Registration * Venue and Directions

Sunday 10 July 2016
9.30 Kemp Room

Ruth Doherty (Trinity College Dublin)
“Joining the Dots: Narrative Point of View in War of the Worlds and The Third Man”

    “I have set forth at length in the last chapter my brother’s account of the road through Chipping Barnet, in order that my readers may realize how that swarming of black dots appeared to one of those concerned.”


    “Look down there [. . .] Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving for ever? If I said you can have twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stops, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money – or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare?”

H.G. Wells met Graham Greene in 1936, and met Orson Welles in 1940, two years after Welles starred in the notorious radio adaptation of Wells’s The War of the Worlds. In 1949, Welles played Harry Lime in the film The Third Man, the screenplay of which had been written by Greene. This paper is an exercise in joining the “dots” in the quotations above (the first from Wells, the second from Greene).

A famous scene in The Third Man sees Holly Martins, at the top of the Prater Wheel in Vienna, being asked to use his lofty position relative to the crowd below to negate the people within this crowd, to see them as dispensable objects. He is also being asked to reconcile his view of his boyhood friend Harry Lime with the new perspective provided by Lime’s posing of this appalling question. The viewer of The Third Man can watch the crowd from both Martins’s and Lime’s perspective, whilst also watching Martins and Lime. This vertiginous multiplicity of viewpoints, I argue, is similar to that created by H.G. Wells in War of the Worlds.

Noting various techniques utilised in the radio play of War of the Worlds and the film The Third Man to create multiple points of view, I demonstrate how successfully Wells does this using only words on a page. In the course of his story Wells provides myriad points of view on events, allowing the reader to experience the powerlessness of a microbe under a microscope and the serene confidence of a Martian with an intellect ‘vast, cool and unsympathetic’. I query whether Wells’s presentation of these viewpoints allows the reader to make up his/her own mind, or if the force of sudden changes in narrative point of view encourages the reader to pick a side in the war.

Nicholas Ruddick (University of Regina)
“HGW Adapted for the New Millennium: The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells”

The Hallmark Channel’s 265-minute TV miniseries The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells (2001) ingeniously adapts six of Wells’s short stories by posing them as six cases solved in 1893 by a fictitious “H.G. Wells”. Possibly to the chagrin of some Wellsians, the miniseries suggests how the historical HGW and his short fiction have had to be adapted almost beyond recognition in order to survive successfully in the maelstrom of twenty-first-century popular culture. The stories adapted include (in narrative order): “The New Accelerator” (1901); “The Queer Story of Brownlow’s Newspaper” (1932); “The Crystal Egg” (1897); “The Remarkable Case of Davidson’s Eyes” (1895); “The Truth about Pyecraft” (1903); and “The Stolen Bacillus” (1894). A Time Machine-style frame narrative involving the dying “Wells” in 1946 connects the episodes further. In 1893 “Wells” (Tom Ward) is a tall, lean, good-looking aspiring writer and contemporary of Sherlock Holmes who has ‘always been given to paradoxes about space and time’. His sidekick is the superficially demure but privately fiery New Woman college science student “Jane” (Katy Carmichael). Collaborative solution of each of the cases brings “Wells” and “Jane” closer together, until at last they are married and she is pregnant. Perhaps the best episode is based on the most unlikely source text, the little-known slight prophetic piece “The Queer Story of Brownlow’s Newspaper”. The action is dramatized as a temporal paradox caused by the unaccountable presence in 1893 of a future issue of a newspaper, with serious ramifications that only “Wells” has the spatiotemporal imagination to resolve. While fin-de-siècle specialists may fume at liberties taken with biographical and historical facts, the adaptors of Infinite Worlds are sufficiently knowledgeable about Wellsian scientific romance and its context to suggest how the real HGW, in horse-drawn days, could so powerfully anticipate our contemporary anxieties about science and technology. Infinite Worlds may not be a faithful adaptation, but it is reasonably respectful of its sources and surprisingly effective.

Danielle Hancock (University of East Anglia)
“Isolation, Apathy and Martians: War of the Worlds in the Podcast Era”

H.G. Wells’s fiction has inspired many adaptations and reimaginings, in cinematic, televisual, graphic and audio art forms. Perhaps of all these, the most widely known adaptation of H.G. Wells’s fictions is The Mercury Theatre on Air’s radio play, War of the Worlds (1938), based on Wells’s 1898 novel of the same title. Whilst the Mercury Theatre’s writers initially deemed Wells’s story too familiar to 1930s audiences to generate an effectively frightening or gripping narrative, director Orson Welles persisted, and the adaptation was made, albeit with significant alterations: the location was altered from London to New York, the time frame brought up to near-present day (the remake in fact, being set exactly one year into the future of its original broadcast), and the form being altered from written, “memoir” style, to a minute by minute live news broadcast. The play was highly effective, and gained rapid infamy following reports of it having spawned mass panic across New York. Whilst the veracity of these reports is now queried, the adaptation is still regarded as a pioneer moment in radio and sci fi history, revealing not only the power of live mass media, and the import and trustworthiness of radio in the run up to World War Two, but also the timeless nature of Wells’s story. Whatever the form or delivery, it seemed, Wells’s dystopic vision of Martian invasion would always strike a resonant note within Western culture.

With this in mind, this paper explores three twenty-first century podcast adaptations of War of the Worlds, texts which consciously redevelop both Wells’s and Welles’s original works. Podcasts, as pre-recorded sound files designed to be listened to on personal, privatised audio media, and on individualistic time frames, can be seen to embody modern fears regarding new audio media, in which traditional, collective and community-based broadcast values are seen to decline in favour of fragmented and antisocial “head-phone culture”. Likewise, whilst The Mercury Theatre’s War of the Worlds aired in the run-up to WWII, a time when listeners were fearful of cultural invasion, the story’s podcast evolutions emerge in an era typified by ambiguity regarding terrorist invasion. Post 9/11 Western culture is fearful of terrorist threat, yet uncertain, and often critical, of British and American overseas involvement in the “War on Terror”, and of Western colonial legacies. Thus this paper asks how Wells’s story evolves and becomes meaningful, both within such new, highly individualistic, privatised and mobile audio media, and the societal context which it inhabits. In short, it asks how does War of the Worlds work in the age of isolation, apathy and Nationalistic uncertainty?

Paper Session F: Long Views


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Anticipations: H. G. Wells, Science Fiction and Radical Visions
A Conference at Woking, 8-10 July 2016
Abstracts * Accommodation * Programme * Registration * Venue and Directions

Saturday 9 July 2016

15.30 Ogilvy Room
Andrew M. Butler (Canterbury Christ Church University)
“‘Life Fighting Life’: Mockbusting War of the Worlds

2005 saw not one but three feature-length adaptations of The War of the Worlds (1898): Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster which (like Orson Welles’s radio version and the 1953 George Pal/Byron Haskin film) moved the events to then present day America, Timothy Hines’s Victorian melodrama H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds for Pendragon Films and David Michael Latt’s mockbuster H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds for The Asylum, which is also set in then present day America. The two American versions play fast and loose with Wells’s novel, tempting viewers to reach for the terms “betrayal”, “deformation”, “violation”, “bastardization”, “vulgarization” and “desecration” that film critic Robert Stam sees as common to readings of adaptations by literary readers. More recent work on adaptation, notably by Linda Hutcheon, has questioned the value of terms such as “fidelity”, “faithfulness”, “origin” and “source”, arguing that adaptation must be considered “on its own as an independent work”.

H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, known as Invasion in Europe for copyright reasons, presents us with a problem as both a “bastardization” of Wells’s novel and frankly not very good. At first sight it might be notable only as The Asylum’s most successful film to date, with 100,000 copies bought by video store chain Blockbusters for its release the day before Spielberg’s version and of an incredibly opportunist piggy-backing on Paramount/DreamWorks’s publicity drive. At the same time it speaks to Wells’s continual value as a cultural marker or brand name sixty years (now seventy) after his death and lifts enough elements from his novel that it can share thematic concerns with Wells – the central character who is there at the first cylinder crash, a meeting with a soldier and a priest, the death of the Martians from bacteria and the reuniting of the protagonist with his wife. It contains enough references and parallels almost like “Easter Eggs”, in the manner of the BBC’s updating of Holmes and Watson, that the knowledgeable viewer experiences a pleasure in the text. Meanwhile Wells’s fin de siècle fears of invasion find their counterpart in the post-9/11 anxieties about unexpected terrorist attacks of Latt’s mockbuster. Whilst an attempt to recuperate the film is surely doomed, it offers sufficient pleasures in its adaptation that it deserves a second look.


Catherine Redford (Hertford College, University of Oxford) (in absentia)
“H.G. Wells and the Fin de Siècle ‘Last Man'”

Over the course of the long eighteenth century numerous texts were published that drew on the “fire and brimstone” thinking of the Christian eschatological tradition, but the beginning of the nineteenth century saw a marked shift in the popular depiction of doomsday. Authors started to imagine the end of the world in more secular terms, whereby apocalypse takes place but the promised Christian millennium does not occur. For a generation of Romantic writers used to privileging the figure of the solitary, it was only natural to consider what it would be like to be the Last Man left alive in this post-apocalyptic world. Between 1816 and 1833 numerous responses to the theme were published, before the Last Man fell out of fashion.

The Last Man figure wasn’t considered again in any depth until the fin de siècle, when both H.G. Wells and M. P. Shiel revisited his significance and potential. This paper will trace how Wells explores the idea of the Last Man, responding to the Romantic incarnation of this figure in works such as The War of the Worlds and The Sleeper Awakes but also – like Shiel – innovating to form a distinctly fin de siècle version of this theme. Focusing on The Time Machine I will examine how Wells, in the figure of the Time Traveller, creates a Last Man who resists his status as the final human left alive. The Time Traveller does not simply hope to find fellow survivors in the manner of his predecessors but, fuelled by his fear and horror, actively seeks to preserve the race. The degeneration of humanity presented in this text has long been read as a response to Darwin’s work; I will argue that the influence of evolutionary theory on the novel goes further than this, and can be observed in Wells’s emphasis on the importance of the Time Traveller as a lone individual when it comes to influencing the future of his species. I will explore the significance of the Time Traveller’s identity as a scientist, and will examine how Wells takes the established concerns of earlier Last Man literature (such as posterity, the use of the terminal beach at the end of time, and the open-ended nature of the close of the narrative) and reworks them as a response to late Victorian science and wider fin de siècle concerns.


Paper Session E: Power Structures


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Anticipations: H. G. Wells, Science Fiction and Radical Visions
A Conference at Woking, 8-10 July 2016
Abstracts * Accommodation * Programme * Registration * Venue and Directions

Saturday 9 July 2016

15.30 Kemp Room

Maxim Shadurski (Siedlce University of Natural Sciences and Humanities)
“An Archaeology of Utopia in H.G. Wells’s The Dream: Between England and the World State”

Wells’s anxiety that the World State will forfeit every connection with England receives a fictional rendering in The Dream (1924). Unlike Men Like Gods (1923) – its immediate predecessor, this novel explores not the Earthlings’ perceptions of Utopia, but the Utopians’ ability to remember and identify with England. Whereas Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward: 2000-1887 (1888) and William Morris’s News from Nowhere (1891) comprise two narratives: the frame narrative of the writer’s contemporary moment and the embedded narrative of the dream, Wells’s novel reverses this order. Thus, the frame narrative is set some 2000 years into the future, and the embedded narrative of the dream centres on the writer’s contemporary moment and immediate past. The novel’s protagonist Sarnac dreams not about Utopia, but about early twentieth-century England. The narrative of his dream unveils itself against the backdrop of alpine mountains, recollecting the English landscape of parks, gardens, and hilltops. Sarnac narrates his dream in the form of a social novel, wherein he increasingly identifies himself with an Englishman Henry Mortimer Smith. Sarnac’s narrative is sustained by realist mode, which carries ideological implications for the Wellsian utopia. If England can be so fully remembered and vividly dreamed about in the World State, there must be a strong underlying continuity between them. This paper examines said continuity as reflected in the landscape of the World State and the English landscape, Sarnac’s identification with Smith, and his narrative of the dream. I thus seek to establish whether the redemptive, rather than emancipatory, character of Sarnac’s dream reduces the Wellsian utopia to an ideological construction. Another question this paper sets out to discuss has been inspired by Ruth Levitas’s recent conceptualisation of utopia as a series of methodological modes, one of which being archaeological. When Sarnac dreams about England from the height of his fulfilled position, he can be seen to engage in the archaeology of the good society. His excavations lay bare the causes and outcomes of bad dreaming.


Matthew Wraith (Imperial College)
“Class and Classification – H.G. Wells and Science Fiction’s Elites”

From Kipling’s Aerial Board of Control, to Asimov’s Encyclopaedists, through to George Lucas’ Jedi – science fiction has, from its very beginnings, been finding ever new ways of reinventing the notion of an aristocracy. Knowledge of science and mastery of technology are never evenly distributed through any society and this fact continually conjures fantasies of an elite class, caste or sect of experts who can use this superior mastery to lead and administrate society as a whole, a class of natural-philosopher kings.

This elite group was not only something that science fiction has sought to evoke, but to convoke: science fiction has often fantasised about its own potential to call together such an elite amongst its readership. The peculiarly clubby and cliquey nature of science fiction’s readerships has brought with it countless never-quite-successful attempts to replicate these groups in the real world.

H.G. Wells was, as ever, at the forefront of these ideas. Growing up in a space so rigidly determined by social class as Uppark, he was far less interested in doing away with the class system as he was with reinventing and recasting it, moving new human material into the spaces it left behind.

New forms of technologically and scientifically inspired quasi-aristocracies constantly appear in his fiction and also in his political writings: the Eloi, the New Republicans, The Samurai, the Airmen of Things to Come. I propose to examine some of these groups, the principles that lend them their distinction and their relation to the real world class-system of early twentieth century Britain. But the enthusiasm with which Wells envisages these new elites is matched in his writings by an equal and opposite scepticism. For Wells’s empirical outlook led him not simply to a mistrust of the concept of class but of classification as a whole.

Paper Session D: Wells: Influences, Reactions, Synchronicities


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Anticipations: H. G. Wells, Science Fiction and Radical Visions
A Conference at Woking, 8-10 July 2016
Abstracts * Accommodation * Programme * Registration * Venue and Directions

Saturday 9 July 2016

13.45 Ogilvy Room
Bryan Hawkins (Canterbury Christ Church University)
“The Microscopic as Space, Place and Metaphor in H.G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds (1898) and F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922)”

H.G. Wells’s 1898 novel War of the Worlds and F.W. Murnau’s 1922 film Nosferatu both assert and challenge an emphasis on the truth-values of sight, science and technology and present the possibilities of the microscopic and the invisible as the imaging and imagining of the mysterious, the threatening and the unknown observed within the natural and nature as a legacy of romanticism and as a particular imagining of unfolding modernist anxieties. The central argument is that Wells and Murnau through the microscopic landscapes they introduce as space, place and metaphor animate a longer history of visual technology and explore a complex dynamic and imaginary beyond the scientific, the optical and the rational.

Wells introduces the landscape of his novel thus:

    No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. (Wells 2010, 6)

In a crucial section of Nosferatu it is a microscopic creature that appears to scrutinise and then predates its victim, as simultaneously the scientists of the film scrutinise the microscopic creatures and, as later, Orlock the film’s vampire scrutinises the human prey and re-enacts the actions of the parasitical microscopic as he feeds. In a section dealing with the discovery of the invading aliens Wells describes the experience of looking into a deep pit newly created within the familiar English landscape of the novel. It is a space entered through an evocation of the microscope and the microscopic:

    The end of the cylinder was being screwed out from within… for a moment the circular cavity seemed perfectly black……but looking I presently saw something stirring within the shadow: greyish billowy movements, one above the other, then two luminous discs like eyes. Then something resembling a little grey snake … coiled up out of the writhing middle and wriggled in the air towards me. (Wells 2010, 15)

Both film and book engage an idea of alien invasion but their landscapes and their threat significantly emanate from a conflation and interpenetration of the invisible worlds being made visible by advances in the technologies of seeing.

Wells, H.G. (1898/2010) The War of the Worlds Cathedral Classics Milton Keynes

Boyarkina Iren (University of Rome Tor Vergata)
“H.G. Wells and Olaf Stapledon”

Herbert Wells is unanimously considered to be the father of the science fiction, who influenced many prominent writers. Olaf Stapledon is definitely among one of the Wells’s most important followers (and friends). Indeed, critics and scholars agree that Olaf Stapledon is one of the most important SF writers since H.G Wells; he often has been referred to as Wells’s heir and as one of the fathers of science fiction. Robert Scholes correctly observes that “if his [Stapledon’s] books could be combined with those of his great contemporary, H.G. Wells, the composite might indeed be said to contain much of the potentiality of the genre [of SF]. And in particular, no writer has left more ideas to posterity than William Olaf Stapledon.” The present paper studies the indebtedness of Olaf Stapledon to Herbert Wells, analyses some similarities of their social and scientific views (evident not only in their works but in their private correspondence as well.) The paper analyses Stapledon’s Last and First Men and some works by Herbert Wells to demonstrate in which way Stapledon was influenced by his older friend and teacher.

David Ketterer (Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool and an Emeritus Professor of English at Concordia University, Montreal)
“John Wyndham’s Second Manifesto: ‘H.G. Wells v S-F'”

This paper draws on the introductory section of Chapter 12 of my completed full-scale critical biography Trouble With Triffids: The Life and Fiction of John Wyndham (“Critical Essays: H.G. Wells Versus Science Fiction”). That introduction distinguishes six periods in the theoretical development of JBH’s (John Beynon Harris’s) critical view of Wells on the one hand and science fiction on the other. Secondly, my paper consists of my discussion of what JBH wrote in response to invitations from The Weekend Telegraph and The News of the World to write pieces related to the 21 September 1966 centenary of Wells’s birth. Thirdly my paper consists of the nine paragraphs of JBH’s resultant 1966 essay “H.G. Wells v S-F” (in essence, a follow up to a 1939 manifesto piece) only some of which appeared in The News of the World’s “Personally Speaking” column.

Paper Session C: Wells at War


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Anticipations: H. G. Wells, Science Fiction and Radical Visions
A Conference at Woking, 8-10 July 2016
Abstracts * Accommodation * Programme * Registration * Venue and Directions

Saturday 9 July 2016

13.45 Kemp Room
John W. Huntington (The University of Illinois at Chicago)
“Wells, War and Journalism”

In 1903, at the end of the short story, “The Land Ironclads,” Wells with heavy irony describes a fictional war correspondent as being “too good a journalist to spoil his contrast” by praising the humanity of the engineers who invented and operated the military tanks. The fictional “journalist” sacrifices truth for style, yet just a few years later Wells himself would claim to be, not a novelist, but a journalist. The crux is, what are the aims and responsibilities of the Wellsian “journalist?” How does such a writer differ from a novelist? Or from the sensationalist journalist? We see Wells over the decade leading to the First World War developing the voice of a distinct kind of journalism which finds its richest expression in 1914 in the opening months of the war in his collection of eleven short essays entitled The War that Will End War.

In the popular mind, thanks to his reputation as a predictor of the future and thanks to a hasty (mis)understanding of the title of his 1914 collection, Wells is often seen simply as a propagandist for war. [I presume it was this title that caused Virginia Woolf to lump Wells among the “Jingoists” that the Bloomsbury pacifist crowd put down at a rally for the League of Nations in 1918. (Diary, June 17, 1918).] Yet, though the war turned out not to be the short one Wells predicted, that does not mean that the ideas in these essays were foolish. However wrong he may have been about how the war would be performed, Wells had profound insights into the nature and consequences of the war—and of the peace—in the long run.

Essentially, this talk will be a rethinking of a thesis I posed in my 1982 book, The Logic of Fantasy: H.G. Wells and Science Fiction, in which, citing The Land Ironclads as an example of Wells’s later logic, I argued that in the middle of his career Wells abandoned the dialectical mode of thought that characterizes his great early scientific romances. The talk will culminate in a reading of The War That Will End War as a distinct genre, we can call it “journalism”, different to be sure from fiction, but one with its own complex and dramatic form.

Jeremy Withers (Iowa State University)
“War-Bikes: The Other Technological Marvel in ‘The Land Ironclads'”

My presentation will focus on Wells’s recurring interest in his writings in bicycles as an integral part of an effective military fighting force. The talk will take as its centrepiece Wells’s future-warfare story “The Land Ironclads”, a tale famous for its prophesying of the invention of the tank about a decade before such machines became a reality on the battlefields of World War I. However, I argue that Wells depicts bicycles in this story as being every bit as vital as the tank when it comes to military success, and that the sophisticated tank is even portrayed as relying on the “lowly” bicycle for its own effectiveness. While also making brief references to Wells’s speculative nonfiction as well as various letters and editorials that Wells wrote, this presentation places Wells’s thinking about the military capabilities of bicycles in “The Land Ironclads” within its historical moment of the era of the Second Boer War. I will end by discussing how Wells’s interest in the military capabilities of bicycles endures all the way up until the opening stages of World War I, a good 15-20 years after most of his contemporaries have abandoned any kind of support or enthusiasm for the bicycle, and have ceased to see it as kind of technological marvel of the modern era.

Paper Session I: Textual Histories


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Anticipations: H. G. Wells, Science Fiction and Radical Visions
A Conference at Woking, 8-10 July 2016
Abstracts * Accommodation * Programme * Registration * Venue and Directions

Sunday 10 July 2016

11.15 Kemp Room

Simon J. James (Durham University)
“H.G. Wells: Textual Revision Travelling in Time”

The Time Machine has a long and complex textual history, from its origins in the Science Schools Journal, published when Wells was an undergraduate, through two separate and different serialisations, to the publication in 1895 of variant first UK and US editions. In each of these versions and revisions, Wells’s conception of what time actually is evolves, as Wells develops what this paper will argue is The Time Machine’s central conceit: the extension of geological time, as adumbrated by Lyell and others earlier in the century, from the past into the future. This paper will draw on each version of The Time Machine, including the recently digitised holograph manuscript of The Time Machine, which includes material previously undiscussed by Wells scholars (such as Wells’s quotation of a full stanza of In Memoriam). It will close with some reflections on the possibilities for textual editing of the digital curation of primary material, and on the implications of Wells finally coming out of copyright in 2017.

J. Jesse Ramírez (University of St. Gallen, Switzerland)
“From Woking to New York; or, American Wars: A Short Cultural History of War of the Worlds in North American Translation”

It can be argued without too much exaggeration that Wells’s War of the Worlds is an American text — if not by birth, then by naturalization. The initial form of this “naturalization” was piracy. Not long after Wells’s narrative was serialized in Pearson’s and Cosmopolitan, a pirated copy appeared in The Boston Evening Post under the dubious heading “Fighters from Mars: The War of the Worlds in and Near Boston.” But for all its flagrance, this plagiarism reveals a peculiar desire among Americans to make War of the Worlds their own. For over a century, Americans have Americanized not only the novel’s setting, but more importantly, its political critique. In this talk, I sketch a cultural history of four American versions of War of the Worlds: Garrett P. Serviss’s novel Edison’s Conquest of Mars (1898), an unauthorized sequel to the original; Orson Welles’s and the Mercury Theater’s infamous radio “hoax” of 1938; George Pal’s and Byron Haskin’s Cold War film of 1953; and Steven Spielberg’s post-9/11 adaptation. In each case, the anti-imperial critique of Wells’s narrative – what John Rieder calls the theme of “The Mighty Humbled” – is omitted, dodged, inverted, reconfigured, and appropriated to meet the ideological needs of a particular historical moment. If Wells radically reversed the roles of colonizer and colonized, Serviss’s Edison’s Conquest of Mars reflects the eagerness of a minor imperial power to prove itself on the world and interplanetary stage. While the imperial theme remains a subtext in the Halloween broadcast, Welles and the Mercury Theater’s version is more of an object lesson in the ambivalence of emergent media. I will not repeat the popular story of mass panic here; rather, the latest research suggests that this story is itself a “hoax,” generated by newspapers in their attempt to delegitimize what was then a new and disruptive mass medium, radio. The two filmed versions of War of the Worlds that appear after World War II showcase great uncertainty about the new status of the United States as a superpower. While Pal’s and Haskin’s film represents the Martian invasion as an allegorical World War III, which the United States can “win” only through religious humility, Spielberg’s post-9/11 film uses the invasion as a “motivation of the device” or formal excuse to repair the broken American family. Thus, I aim to show that War of the Worlds has provided American culture with a remarkably versatile lens with which to interrogate the crises of American history, but also with which to refract and escape from recognition of American imperial legacies.