THE FUTURE AS NIGHTMARE by Mark R. Hillegas

THE FUTURE AS NIGHTMARE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

H.G. Wells, who achieved eminence as a realist debating public issues and the condition of man with the fervor of a clear-eyed progressive thinker, is remembered most often now as the grandfather of science fiction. His stories of marauding ants marching on civilizations, of the fabulous invisible man, of planetary wars have all set the stage for the proliferating interest in the new mythmaking where technological and biological disciplines reign supreme in the perfect state. The futuristic apparatus in The Island of Dr. Morcau, as Professor Hillegas points out, inspired the Day of Unanimity in We, the Soma Solidarity Service in Brave New World, and the Two-Minute Hate in 1984. Of course, these later novels are anti-utopian in sentiment, while Wells is commonly thought to have been spellbound by the utopian dream. This indeed is what is usually meant by Wellsian vulgarity. The matter is far more complex, and if the rationalist Wells believed in the evolutionary perfectibility of man, Wells, the imaginative artist and humanist, was also imbued with the elder Huxley's ""cosmic pessimism."" His tales, especially The Time Machine, caution the reader against any blind faith in a super-functionalism. The misunderstood, if simplistic, evolutionism of his later essays or Things to Come, however, brought about an anti-Wells reaction, starting with Forster and continuing to the present in the apocalyptic fancies of Bradbury et al. A completely knowledgeable and inclusive undertaking.

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 1967
Publisher: Oxford