"Mr. Wells evolving a cosmic thought" by William H. Cotton, 1935 (Library iof Congress)


Charles Dickens was still alive in September 1866 when H.G. Wells was born in Bromley, County of Kent, England. Wells died in 1946, a year after WWII ended. The technological, scientific and social changes which occurred during his life were huge. He spent his life pondering — and attempting to influence — the future.

While some of Wells’ ideas are shocking and repugnant, the pessimism he expressed in his last book, Mind at the End of its Tether, is well founded.

H.G. Wells, 1905 (Library of Congress)

“In the face of our universal inadequacy . . . man must go steeply up or down and the odds seem to be all in favor of his going down and out. If he goes up, then so great is the adaptation demanded of him that he must cease to be a man. Ordinary man is at the end of his tether.”

The current level of technological change has brought a degree of complexity to everyday life that cannot be sustained. People are indeed reaching the end of their tether.

Things to Come (1936) is a movie adaptation, which Wells wrote, of his 1933 novel The Shape of Things To Come, a dystopic view of life from 1936 to 2036 which questions the price of “progress.”

A bibliography “inclusive of books, major pamphlets and collected letters only” can be found here.

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