Thursday, December 12, 2019

Book review: THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON by H. G. Wells

THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON (1901) by H. G. Wells

A novel that's over 100 years old...about a visit to the Moon... depicting lunar life on a Moon with an atmosphere. Is it really still worth reading?

The answer is yes. In fact this novel is imaginative, humorous, lighthearted and even satirical.

It also contains interesting surprises:

- The characters make a direct reference to Jules Verne's novel FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON -- a "meta-commentary."

- The narrative, written as a firsthand account of "true events," mixes fantastic events with mundane details of life in the 1890s.

- The narrator is a greedy opportunist - he tags along on the expedition to the Moon only to strike it rich. In one scene, he gets intoxicated and babbles about the duty to seize control of the Moon as "the White Man's Burden." This is obviously Wells making fun of British imperialism.

- The depiction of life on the Moon, even though it is outdated, is still impressive and imaginative. It has been an influence on later stories about aliens.

- There are several ironic twists in the story to keep the excitement up.

(For example: the two men who travel to the Moon bring lots of provisions and prepare for various difficulties they might face... but once they land on the Moon, it becomes obvious that they forgot to bring a map.)

- Wells even considered the psychological effects of space travel - in a wonderful scene he depicts a kind of "space madness"!

I enjoyed THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON, a surprisingly entertaining adventure. Recommended as a classic.

NOTE: The book has been filmed several times. The 2010 BBC adaptation received mostly good reviews.

You can listen to the free Librivox audiobook version HERE.

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