Paper Session B: Wells and Women

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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 9th July 2016

11.15 Ogilvy Room

Louisa Treger (Author)
“The Muses of H.G. Wells: How the Women in his Life Shaped his Writing”

The fact that H.G. Wells loved women and had many affairs is well-known. What has been less widely documented is the vital role his mistresses played in his creative process. My talk will examine this aspect, arguing that without his women, Wells would not have achieved as much as he did.

Wells’s lovers were not simply physically attractive, they were amongst the most gifted of their day: strong, intelligent, articulate and creative. Far from being exploited victims, they were able to relate to him as equals: intellectually, sexually and creatively.

Wells insisted that satisfied desire was a necessity for his work. But for Wells, each of these affairs was not just about sex. On his own, he felt incomplete: he needed women to satisfy his appetites, to support him, and to inspire his work.

At its most basic, being in love produced a rush of euphoria that in turn generated creative energy and often led to a new novel or novels. However, the influence of love on his work was complex and multi-layered. Wells’s women appeared as characters in his books. His affairs also had an impact on the plot and structure of certain novels, because he used them as a device to work through the complications that inevitably resulted from his extra-marital relationships.

Wells liked to discuss his writing with his lovers and he invited them to comment on his manuscripts. In other words, Wells’s dependence on his women extended to literary dependence: he took their criticisms to heart and they had a material effect on his writing.

Wells encouraged Dorothy Richardson and Rebecca West to write. Not only did Dorothy decline to take his advice [on writing], she actually formulated her ideas about writing in direct opposition to his views. It seems that Wells was more influenced by Dorothy’s literary input than she was by his!

To conclude, Wells was a prolific writer and a prolific lover. His multiple relationships inevitably led to messy and painful situations. At the same time, his need for women went beyond a craving for sex; there was also a deep need for emotional and intellectual support that belied the robust persona he revealed to the outside world. His lovers had an essential, complex and reciprocal influence on his writing; both he and they produced novels which re-imagined and drew creatively on their relationship. In fact, without Wells’s women, we arguably would not be remembering him today.

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Paper Session A: Wells and Science

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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 9th July 2016

11.15 Kemp Room

Patrick Parrinder (Emeritus, University of Reading)
“Alchemy and Anarchy: The Tragicomedy of Wellsian Science”

Wells’s first two scientist-protagonists, the Time Traveller and Dr Moreau, seem at first sight to be polar opposites: the detached, keen-eyed observer of the future and the demonic, fraudulent vivisector who claims to transform beasts into men. Yet the Time Traveller has a certain reputation as an amateur conjuror, while Moreau’s attempts to reshape zoological species can be seen as an anticipation of present-day genetic engineering.

In his 1933 “Preface” to The Scientific Romances, Wells emphasised that, far from offering a realistic picture of modern science, his science fiction draws heavily on the traditional figures of the magician and the alchemist. Time travel and invisibility, for example, are “magic tricks” made palatable to a modern audience by an “ingenious use of scientific patter”. But, in the later scientific romances, the scientist’s magical sleight-of-hand is increasingly undermined by another aspect of his character, his farcical incompetence. The grotesque reversion of Dr Moreau’s Beast Folk is succeeded by the absurd misadventures of Griffin in The Invisible Man, the cartoonish eccentricity of Cavor in The First Men in the Moon, and the health-and-safety nightmare of the “experimental farm” in The Food of the Gods. Not only do Wells’s scientists usually end up as the victims of their own inventions, but the anarchy they have created may or may not have lasting consequences. This tragicomic element in Wellsian scientific romance is deeply at variance with his later insistence that the world could and should be rebuilt on scientific lines. It is what makes him a great entertainer as well as a literary prophet, and it suggests that his science-fictional successors include Karel Čapek as well as Olaf Stapledon, and Douglas Adams as well as Arthur C. Clarke.

Genie Babb (SUNY Plattsburgh)
“Embodiment and Alienation in the Wellsian Search for Intelligent Life”

In the final decades of the nineteenth century, technological advances in the field of astronomy coupled with Darwinian theory made credible the possibility of intelligent life having evolved on other planets. Much debate centred on how intelligent extra-terrestrials might be and what physical form they might take. Robert Crossley traces the “Mars mania” of this time to a several sources, including the eminent French astronomer Camille Flammarion, who published scientific treatises on astronomy as well as imaginative fiction. One of Flammarion’s most influential works, Uranie (1889, 1890), depicts the mystical experiences of a young astronomer who, on dream journeys through the universe, encounters a variety of benign, beautiful, ethereal, and often immortal extra-terrestrials. Coexisting peacefully, these otherworldly beings nourish themselves simply through respiration, and they condemn materiality—in particular the “murderous” act of eating—as the original sin of all Earth’s inhabitants. They preach spiritual purification as the only means by which human beings can transcend their bodies and commune with other enlightened beings. As if to rebut this view, H.G. Wells’s scientific romances challenge the notion that the core of our humanity, and what we prize most, is the sort of transcendent, disembodied rationality championed by Flammarion. Wells’s romances show the propensity of intelligent life forms to affiliate on physical rather than intellectual grounds, to think through the body rather than rise above it. In The Time Machine, the Time Traveller identifies, not with the arguably more intelligent Morlocks, but with the Eloi because they “kept too much of the human form not claim my sympathy.” In The War of the Worlds the relationship between Martians and human beings is antagonistic: the narrator repeatedly expresses disgust at the Martian body, and the Martians have so little concern for human intelligence that they feed on the blood of still-living humans. The First Men in the Moon, however, complicates this pattern by presenting two responses to alien bodies: Bedford’s unscientific, unsympathetic, knee-jerk loathing of the Selenites versus Cavor’s repugnance tempered by scientific curiosity and empathy. In this paper, I first establish Uranie as an intertext for Wells’s scientific romances, and then focus on the increasing sophistication of Wells’s depiction of interactions between intelligent species differently embodied across the three texts mentioned above. Cavor is the only character able to transcend his disgust, and that only imperfectly and for short periods of time. The hard-won “transcendence” he achieves is enabled by a scientific frame of mind and poses a pointed contrast to the easy transcendence celebrated in Flammarion.

Caroline Rutter (Artist/Historian)
“H.G. Wells and the Scientists”

H.G. Wells the graduate scientist, teacher, Nature reviewer and pioneer futurologist was a true man of his time. Even while living in Woking he was within striking distance of London’s scientific elite and was in an ideal position to take ideas from the cutting edge of science and think through its possibilities. 1896, the year when the world saw the body become invisible to X-rays, was the perfect time to imagine The Invisible Man, though he chose to make it chemistry rather than physics which made Griffin disappear. In the same year his Martians had to have ray weapons, but by using heat Wells was taking the energy of the cathode rays, X-rays and uranium rays and combined them into one. When he imagined atomic weapons he was picking up on hints dropped by Pierre Curie on his visit to London where Wells was in the audience at the Royal Institution. He lived through the embarrassment of the scientific community discovering that they had been generating X-rays for years before their discovery, that radioactivity had been first observed in 1852, but not investigated and in 1903 N-rays were discovered despite the fact that they do not exist. He knew that scientists were fallible and vulnerable to believing things because they were of the moment.

From his intimate knowledge of the scientists and their society Wells knew that many of them were intrigued by the world of spiritualism and spiritualists. Eusapia Palladino intrigued many including Oliver Lodge, Sir William Crookes and the Curies. The spirits could be interpreted as vibrations and emanations in the ether as could the various phenomenon in the laboratories. Many clearly thought that they would find the scientific explanation for how the dead were able to come back and speak to us. In The Science of Life which Wells published with his son and Julian Huxley (a grandson of Darwin’s Bulldog) he made short shrift of de-bunking fraudsters, showing that even scientists were all too vulnerable to tricks of the trade. His photographs of “apparitions” which are clearly poor quality drawings on card or paper drove the nail into the coffin of the heyday of spiritualism. That his adult life covered the period from the introduction of domestic electricity to the use of atomic weapons in Japan shows that he was a man of his moment and his Time Machine was derived from his (extremely well-informed) imagination.

Paper Session H: The Fourth Dimension and the Posthuman

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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 Ogilvy Room

Mark Blacklock (Birkbeck, University of London)
“‘Can an Instantaneous Cube Exist?’ Wells and the Fourth Dimension”

H.G. Wells’s repeated attention to the idea of the fourth dimension in his fiction illustrates the extension and subtlety of his scientific reading and understanding. In his earliest works Wells exploited all the narrative possibilities of a concept that perfectly straddled the plausibility required by his style and the extraordinary desired by his content, allowing for a mathematically-sanctioned array of dizzying effects: time-travel, corporeal inversion, invisibility and co-location.

Closely reading Wells’s early treatment of the idea of the fourth dimension in The Time Machine (and its precursors), The Invisible Man, The Wonderful Visit and the short stories “The Remarkable Case of Davidson’s Eyes” and “The Plattner Story”, this paper assesses and revises claims for Wells’s predictive vision in relation to the ideas of relativity. It works to locate Wells’s work and research in relation to the developing field of n-dimensional geometry and to fill out the details of his frequently acknowledged – though infrequently explored – debt to scientific romancer and theorist of higher-dimensional space, Charles Howard Hinton, a debt both undersold by Wells and largely ignored by Hinton.

In closing, this paper will consider how Wells’s use of the idea of the fourth dimension might have influenced form. Did what was by Bernard Bergonzi as Wells’s “favourite motif” in his early fiction become, as argued by William J. Scheick, an engine for formal development in his fiction? To what extent can we think of Wells’s fiction as truly higher-dimensional?

Mariateresa Franza (University of Salerno)
“H.G. Wells and the Fourth Dimension: The Conquest of Time

In 1942 H.G. Wells published The Conquest of Time, a little pamphlet where he condensed his modern ideas concerning the fundamentals of existence: time, space, identity and religion. Originally conceived as a rewrite of First and Last Things written in 1908, this essay casts new light on Wells as a thinker and distinguished interpreter of his era, above all on his absolute unconventional attitude toward the common beliefs. Interestingly, among the several philosophical speculations he has been embedded in, time has always had a predominant aspect in Wells’s frame of mind and, consequently, in his huge literary output. Wells has always been interested in and, we may argue, obsessed by the idea of time and its implications. Since the early years at South Kensington, where he acquired his reputation as a speculative writer through the publication of his first scientific essays on biology, evolution and philosophy, time seems to have been the silent protagonist subtending every kind of possible speculation. In particular, Wells has been fascinated by the concept of time as Fourth Dimension. This idea was an appealing issue for many writers and artists and the extension of its popularization among the intellectual Victorian milieu witnessed a fresh interest in this field, mostly because it offered a wide range of visionary possibilities. The young Wells may have been acquainted with the topic through the 1887 debate at the Debating Society, where a new theory about non-Euclidean geometry and multidimensional space was advanced. The idea of an unknown dimension in addition to the well-known three (length, breadth and thickness) was as attractive for the young Wells as it was a successful experiment in the laboratory. A few years later he developed his personal theory about time as a fourth dimension, perfectly displayed in The Time Machine (1895) where it proves to be the necessary strategic condition to the scientific and cognitive framing of the plot. About fifty years later, after the publication of Einstein’s theories on Relativity, an old and disillusioned Wells recalls his juvenile outsets showing a mature awareness about the nature of time and its individual perception. The aim of the paper is to investigate the speculative aspect of this essay according to the epistemological frame within which the revolutionary idea of Fourth Dimension spread and developed through the nineteenth century.

 
Thomas Connolly (Maynooth University)
“Beyond the Common Range of Men: H.G. Wells, Posthumanism and the OncoMouseTM

What is the connection between H.G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds and a mouse? Both can be understood, I argue, as sites for an exploration of what it is to be human. In this paper, I want to make an argument for Wells as an early posthumanist writer, one whose fiction explores the boundaries between the human and the non-human. According to posthumanist critics, the development of both the advanced techno-industries and the “schizophrenic” postmodern culture of late capitalism have problematised traditional models of the human subject, which is no longer clearly defined or even definable, and produced subjects that differ radically from former Western interpretations of the individual as a singular, autonomous, and coherent entity. Such critics generally limit themselves to the cultural production of the late-twentieth century, which in the area of science fiction has been the works of such postmodernist writers as Gibson, Russ and Dick. I want to make the argument, however, that Wells’s The War of the Worlds offers an early, and highly prescient, picture of such late twentieth-century posthumanity through its description of the Martians, these “sprawling bodies” have been so subsumed within technology as to be unable to function without it. Through a comparison with an archetypal product of the late twentieth century, the OncoMouseTM, I intend to show, to an extent not hitherto acknowledged, the ways in which Wells’s novel foreshadows what were later to become some of the central issues in the whole tradition of western sci-fi, namely, the amalgamation of technology and the body and the upheaval of traditional distinctions between humanity and nature. Both The War of the Worlds and the OncoMouseTM, I argue, present a soritean challenge to traditional distinctions between nature and culture, posing in different ways the question of where exactly along the continuum between these realms the partition should be drawn. By so doing, I want also to show the ways in Wells’s ground-breaking fiction can be understood as a means to explore the ramifications, positive and negative, of the increasing alignment between technology and humanity.

Programme

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This is the programme for the conference — it may be subject to last minute change

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

Friday 8 July 2016
2.00-3.30 Ogilvy Room
Committee meeting (for H.G. Wells Society committee)

4.00-5.00 Ogilvy Room
H.G. Wells Society AGM

5.00-8.00 Griffin Room (bar)
Drinks Reception

Saturday 9 July 2016
9.30 Kemp Room
Registration

9.55 Kemp Room
Welcome from Paul Allen

10.00 Kemp Room
Keynote One: Stephen Baxter
“‘It’s like something out of H.G. Wells!’: The Continuing Influence of H.G. Wells and The War of the Worlds

11.00 Break

11.15 Kemp Room
Paper Session A: Wells and Science
Patrick Parrinder (Emeritus, University of Reading)
“Alchemy and Anarchy: The Tragicomedy of Wellsian Science”
Genie Babb (SUNY Plattsburgh)
“Embodiment and Alienation in the Wellsian Search for Intelligent Life”
Caroline Rutter (Artist/Historian)
“H.G. Wells and the Scientists”

11.15 Ogilvy Room
Paper Session B: Wells and Contexts
Louisa Treger (Author)
“The Muses of H.G. Wells: How the women in his life shaped his writing”

12.45 Lunch

13.45 Kemp Room
Paper Session C: Wells at War
John W. Huntington (The University of Illinois at Chicago)
“Wells, War and Journalism”
Jeremy Withers (Iowa State University)
“War-Bikes: The Other Technological Marvel in ‘The Land Ironclads'”

13.45 Ogilvy Room
Paper Session D: Wells: Influences, Reactions, Synchronicities
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)”
Boyarkina Iren (University of Rome Tor Vergata)
H.G. Wells and Olaf Stapledon
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'”

15.15 Break

15.30 Kemp Room
Paper Session E: Power Structures
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”
Matthew Wraith (Imperial College)
“Class and Classification – H.G. Wells and Science Fiction’s Elites”

15.30 Ogilvy Room
Paper Session F: Long Views
Andrew M. Butler (Canterbury Christ Church University)
“‘Life Fighting Life’: Mockbusting War of the Worlds
Catherine Redford (Hertford College, University of Oxford) (in absentia)
“H.G. Wells and the Fin de Siècle ‘Last Man'”

16.30 Kemp Room
Keynote Two: Dr Lesley A. Hall (Wellcome Library Research Fellow/Honorary Senior Lecturer, Department of Science and Technology Studies, University College London)
“Open Conspirators: Endeavouring to Manifest the Wellsian Utopia”

17.30 Kemp Room
Roundtable Discussion: Wells in the Public Domain

19.30 Kemp Room
Banquet

Sunday 10 July 2016
9.30 Kemp Room
Paper Session G: Adapting Wells
Ruth Doherty (Trinity College Dublin)
“Joining the dots: narrative point of view in War of the Worlds and The Third Man”
Nicholas Ruddick (University of Regina)
“HGW Adapted for the New Millennium: The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells”
Danielle Hancock (University of East Anglia)
“Isolation, Apathy and Martians: War of the Worlds in the Podcast Era”

9.30 Ogilvy Room
Paper Session H: The Fourth Dimension and the Posthuman
Mark Blacklock (Birkbeck, University of London)
“‘Can an Instantaneous Cube Exist?’ Wells and the Fourth Dimension”
Mariateresa Franza (University of Salerno)
“H.G. Wells and the Fourth Dimension: The Conquest of Time”
Thomas Connolly (Maynooth University)
“Beyond the Common Range of Men: H.G. Wells, Posthumanism and the OncoMouseTM

11.00 Break

11.15 Kemp Room
Paper Session I: Textual Histories
Simon J. James (Durham University)
“H.G. Wells: Textual Revision Travelling in Time”
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”

12.15 Kemp Room
Closing Panel: Wells Now (Stephen Baxter, Lesley A. Hall, chaired by Andrew M. Butler)

12.55 Kemp Room
Thanks

13.00 Lunch

Followed by guided walk of War of the Worlds virtual battlefields led by Professor Peter J. Beck.

Keynote: Dr Lesley A. Hall

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We are pleased to announce that conference’s second keynote will be at 4.30pm on Saturday 9 July in the Kemp Room:

Dr Lesley A. Hall (Wellcome Library Research Fellow/Honorary Senior Lecturer, Department of Science and Technology Studies, University College London)
“Open Conspirators: Endeavouring to Manifest the Wellsian Utopia”

For several decades H.G. Wells was an iconic figure in British culture. His vast correspondence now at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reveals the wide-ranging impact of his thought upon individuals in all walks of life, who were inspired by his visions of a better society. Several organisations were set up with the intention of working towards the kind of utopia Wells had delineated. Some of the ways in which individuals and organisations engaged with Wells and his ideas and tried to bring his utopia into existence are explored. Wells’s own ambivalence to such projects will also be considered, and so will the accusation by George Orwell in The Road to Wigan Pier that what he proposed was “the paradise of little fat men”.
 
 
Lesley A. Hall, FRHistS, is a Wellcome Library Research Fellow and Honorary Senior Lecturer University College London.

She has published extensively on questions of gender and sexuality in the UK from the nineteenth century onwards,  including the much-used textbook Sex, Gender and Social Change in Britain since 1880 (2nd edition 2012), and is currently engaged in investigating interwar progressive individuals and movements. In connection with this she was awarded a John ‘Bud’ Velde Fellowship of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to undertake research in the Wells correspondence held there, and has already published two papers emerging from this extremely rich resource: ‘An ambiguous idol: HG Wells inspiring and infuriating women’ in The Wellsian no 34, special Ann Veronica issue, and ‘”A city that we shall never find”? The search for a community of fellow progressive spirits in the UK between the wars’, Family and Community History  Vol 18.

She is also very interested in science fiction, has written a brief study of Naomi Mitchison, gave the George Hay Memorial Lecture of the Science Fiction Foundation in 2012, and been a judge for the Tiptree and Arthur C. Clarke Awards. Her website is www.lesleyahall.net, her blog is lesleyahall.blogspot.co.uk, she tweets as @erinacean, and she has a profile on academia.edu.

Keynote: Stephen Baxter

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We are pleased to announce that conference’s first keynote will be at 10.00am on Saturday 9 July in the Kemp Room:

Stephen Baxter
“‘It’s like something out of H.G. Wells!’: The Continuing Influence of H.G. Wells and The War of the Worlds

The enduring impact of Wells’s great novel was driven home to me when I researched my own novel of the Second World War, and found that many eyewitnesses referred to Wells’s books as a comparison for their experiences: “It’s like something out of H.G. Wells.” In this talk I will explore a century of reactions to The War of the Worlds in follow-ups, restagings and reimaginings of Wells’s novel, even in whole sub-genres deriving from it.
Stephen Baxter is the author of The Time Ships (1995) – a sequel to The Time Machine (1895) – and is a Vice-President of the HG Wells Society.

He was born in Liverpool, England, 13 November 1957 and now lives in Northumberland. Stephen has degrees in mathematics, from Cambridge University, engineering, from Southampton University, and in business administration, from Henley Management College. He has taught maths and physics and worked for several years in information technology. He is a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society.

He began professional publishing of sf with “The Xeelee Flower” in Interzone (Spring 1987) as by S. M. Baxter, a story that was to form part of his Xeelee Sequence of future history, and included novels such as Raft (1991), Timelike Infinity (1992), Flux (1993) and Rim (1994). In 1991 he had applied to become a cosmonaut and visit Mir, but lost out to Helen Sharman. He consoled himself with writing an alternate history novel about NASA, Voyage (1996); other alternate histories by Stephen include Anti-Ice (1993), his Mammoth trilogy Mammoth: Silverhair (1999), Longtusk: Mammoth Book Two (2000) and Icebones: Mammoth Book Three (2001), his Manifold trilogy Manifold 1 (1999 1999), Space: Manifold 2 (2000) and Origin: Manifold 3 (2001) and the Northland Trilogy Stone Spring (2010), Bronze Summer (2011) and Iron Winter (2012).

Baxter has also collaborated with other sf writers, including Arthur C. Clarke (Time’s Eye (2003), Sunstorm (2005) and Firstborn (2008), and with Terry Pratchett (The Long Earth (2012), The Long War (2013), The Long Mars (2014) and The Long Utopia (2015). As well as writing for adults he has written for children, for the shared world The Web (The Web: Gulliverzone (1997) and The Web: Webcrash (1998), and even a Doctor Who novel (The Wheel of Ice (2012)).

In addition to over forty volumes of fiction, he is author of the non-fiction Deep Future (2001) and Omegatropic (2002).

He is currently working on a continuation of The War of the Worlds (1898), provisionally titled The Massacre of Mankind.

His website is http://www.stephen-baxter.com/.

Draft List of Papers

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WotW titlepagePlease note that this is a work in progress — inevitably life will intervene for some people who may not be able to attend after all. Please check back here for updates (21 June 2016)

  • Genie Babb (SUNY Plattsburgh) “Embodiment and Alienation in the Wellsian Search for Intelligent Life”
  • Mark Blacklock (Birkbeck, University of London) “‘Can an Instantaneous Cube Exist?’ Wells and the Fourth Dimension”
  • Andrew M. Butler (Canterbury Christ Church University) “‘Life Fighting Life’: Mockbusting War of the Worlds
  • Thomas Connolly (Maynooth University) “‘Beyond the Common Range of Men’: H. G. Wells, Posthumanism and the OncoMouseTM
  • Ruth Doherty (Trinity College Dublin) “Joining the dots: narrative point of view in War of the Worlds and The Third Man”
  • Mariateresa Franza (University of Salerno) “H. G. Wells and the Fourth Dimension: The Conquest of Time
  • Danielle Hancock (University of East Anglia) “Isolation, Apathy, and Martians: War of the Worlds in the Podcast Era
  • 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)”
  • John Huntington (The University of Illinois at Chicago) “Wells, War, and Journalism”
  • Boyarkina Iren (University of Rome “Tor Vergata”) “Wells and Stapledon”
  • Simon James (Durham University) “H. G. Wells: Textual Revision Travelling in Time”
  • Sam Jordison (Journalist) “The War Of The Worlds as an example of Invasion Literature”
  • 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'”
  • Patrick Parrinder (Emeritus, University of Reading) “Alchemy and Anarchy: The Tragicomedy of Wellsian Science”
  • 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”
  • Catherine Redford (Hertford College, University of Oxford) “H. G. Wells and the Fin de Siècle ‘Last Man'” (in absentia)
  • Nicholas Ruddick (University of Regina) “HGW Adapted for the New Millennium: The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells
  • Caroline Rutter (Artist/Historian) “H. G. Wells and the Scientists”
  • 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”
  • Louisa Treger (Author) “The Muses of H.G. Wells: How the women in his life shaped his writing”
  • Jeremy Withers (Iowa State University) “War-Bikes: The Other Technological Marvel in ‘The Land Ironclads'”
  • Matthew Wraith (Imperial College) “Class and Classification – H. G. Wells and Science Fiction’s Elites”

From The War of the Worlds (1898)

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H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds (London: Heinemann, 1898)

“But very early in the morning poor Ogilvy, who had seen the shooting star and who was persuaded that a meteorite lay somewhere on the common between Horsell, Ottershaw, and Woking, rose early with the idea of finding it. Find it he did, soon after dawn, and not far from the sand pits. An enormous hole had been made by the impact of the projectile, and the sand and gravel had been flung violently in every direction over the heath, forming heaps visible a mile and a half away. The heather was on fire eastward, and a thin blue smoke rose against the dawn.”

[…]

“There were half a dozen flies or more from the Woking station standing in the road by the sand pits, a basketchaise from Chobham, and a rather lordly carriage. Besides that, there was quite a heap of bicycles. In addition, a large number of people must have walked, in spite of the heat of the day, from Woking and Chertsey, so that there was altogether quite a considerable crowd— one or two gaily dressed ladies among the others. It was glaringly hot, not a cloud in the sky nor a breath of wind, and the only shadow was that of the few scattered pine trees. The burning heather had been extinguished, but the level ground towards Ottershaw was blackened as far as one could see, and still giving off vertical streamers of smoke. An enterprising sweet-stuff dealer in the Chobham Road had sent up his son with a barrow-load of green apples and ginger beer.”

[Reprints include: Penguin Classics, 2005]

From Experiment in Autobiography: Woking

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H.G. Wells, Experiment in Autobiography: Discoveries and Conclusions of a Very Ordinary Brain (since 1866) (London: Victor Gollanz, 1934/ New York: Macmillan, 1934)

“Our withdrawal to Woking was a fairly cheerful adventure. Woking was the site of the first crematorium but few of our friends made more than five or six jokes about that. We borrowed a hundred pounds by a mortgage on Mrs. Robbins’ house in Putney and with that hundred pounds, believe it or not, we furnished a small resolute semi-detached villa with a minute greenhouse in the Maybury Road facing the railway line, where all night long the goods trains shunted and bumped and clattered—without serious effect upon our healthy slumbers. Close at hand in those days was a pretty and rarely used canal amidst pine woods, a weedy canal, beset with loose-strife, spiræa, forget-me-nots and yellow water lilies, upon which one could be happy for hours in a hired canoe, and in all directions stretched open and undeveloped heath land, so that we could walk and presently learn to ride bicycles and restore our broken contact with the open air. There I planned and wrote the War of the Worlds, the Wheels of Chance and the Invisible Man. I learnt to ride my bicycle upon sandy tracks with none but God to help me; he chastened me considerably in the process, and after a fall one day I wrote down a description of the state of my legs which became the opening chapter of the Wheels of Chance. I rode wherever Mr. Hoopdrive rode in that story. Later on I wheeled about the district marking down suitable places and people for destruction by my Martians.”

[Reprints include: Faber and Faber 1984, 2009]