I’d like to take a contrarian moment to reflect on one of the greatest imaginations of the past two hundred years: that of one Herbert George Wells, more commonly known to most of us as H. G. Wells.
Wells did an astonishing amount of creative thinking between his birth in 1866 and death in 1946. Many of his speculative ideas bore an uncanny resemblance to what was to come – both within his lifetime and beyond.
He also beat many other thinkers to the punch with his inventive twists on some truly outlandish concepts, from deep time travel to alternate realities.
Wells wrote about an as-then-fantastical future weapon, a devastating ‘continuous’ bomb that would be delivered by air (The World Set Free, 1914) and tap into the “internal energy of atoms”.
This was more than fifteen years before the idea of a nuclear chain-reaction was developed by physicist Leo Szilard.
Wells also gave us stories of biological engineering and artificial evolution (The Island of Dr Moreau), alien civilizations on Mars (The War of the Worlds), the far, far future of a dying Sun (The Time Machine), invisibility through refractive index manipulation (The Invisible Man), life extension
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