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Tony Grist

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The Sleeper Awakes: H.G. Wells [Apr. 17th, 2011|10:32 am]
Tony Grist
A Victorian gentleman wakes from a 200 year coma to find himself in the middle of a revolution. The brutalised working class of a future London is rising up against the mercantile elite. There is lots of fighting and running around. It's a bit like Fritz Lang's Metropolis- which Wells hated- probably because he thought Lang and his writers had ripped him off. It's also a lot like Dr Who.

The descriptions of  the new London- a roofed city of skyscrapers, largely lacking in private space- are exhilarating. Among the things Wells predicted and got approximately right are these: television, video, surveillance cameras, sexual equality, porn, celebrity hairdressers, powered flight, motorways, moving walkways, fascism and the Battle of Britain. Things he failed to anticipate include mass migration and the future's distaste for unthinking racism.

He later said he thought this particular future was impossible because capitalists aren't smart enough to become despots.  Living in a age in which the gap between rich and poor continues to widen and only millionaires can aspire to high office I'm not so sure.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: michaleen
2011-04-17 11:06 am (UTC)
Fascinating. I wonder why we don't hear more of this one? Was it just eclipsed by The Time Machine and War of the Worlds?

I think Wells might have been half-right: capitalists seem to have little trouble achieving despotism, but they don't seem to be smart enough to hold onto it indefinitely.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-04-17 01:50 pm (UTC)
Perhaps the difference is that this kind of Rip Van Winkle story had been done before, whereas the Time Machine and War of the Worlds were brilliantly original. Also, as Wells himself admitted, commercial pressures caused him to rush and skimp the writing.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2011-04-18 10:26 am (UTC)
That makes sense. Thanks.
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[User Picture]From: airstrip
2011-04-17 02:09 pm (UTC)
He's probably right. Capitalists seem to have a hard enough time being oligarchs. It takes more stomach than the effete capitalist class really has.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-04-17 02:45 pm (UTC)
I think the jury's still out. It seems to me we live in a plutocracy now. I look at the big corporations and "effete" isn't the word that first comes to mind.
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2011-04-17 03:44 pm (UTC)
It's a bit like Fritz Lang's Metropolis- which Wells hated-

I was just reading his review. Wow, was he wrong.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-04-17 07:03 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the link. Phew, he really didn't like it, did he!
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[User Picture]From: internet_sampo
2011-04-17 03:58 pm (UTC)
Yep, neither am I.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-04-17 07:13 pm (UTC)
Mind you, I very much hope he's right.
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[User Picture]From: endlessrarities
2011-04-25 02:17 pm (UTC)
That sounds like an interesting read! And I'm disappointed that Wells didn't hit the nail closer on the head. And surprised, to be honest...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-04-25 04:08 pm (UTC)
Well, it's only one of his many stabs at future or alternative realities.
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