One of the things I like about Wells as a novelist is that he is completely fearless about tackling contemporary issues. The new excites him. He doesn't recollect in tranquillity or wait to see what the rest of the world thinks, but snatches at things while they're hot. Ann Veronica participates in a suffragette raid, the narrator of Tono-Bungay builds experimental gliders and airships. I don't think there are many novelists around today who are prepared to risk burning their fingers like this on the utterly up to date. Instead our biggest names seem happier getting things out of books (as opposed to life) and setting their stories in the past. Hilary Mantell, for example, just won the Booker for a novel about Thomas Cromwell.