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The World Set Free

H. G. Wells

Book Overview: 

The World Set Free is considered a prophetical novel foretelling the advent of nuclear weapons.

A constant theme in Wells’s work was the role of energy and technological advance as a determinant of human progress.

The novel opens: “The history of mankind is the history of the attainment of external power. Man is the tool-using, fire-making animal.” Scientists of the day were well aware that the slow natural radioactive decay of elements like radium continues for thousands of years, and that while the rate of energy release is negligible, the total amount released is huge. Wells used this as the basis for his story.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .as an electric-traction system is planned, without reference to pre-existing apparatus, upon scientific lines, did not take a very strong hold upon the popular imagination of the world until the twentieth century. Then, the growing impatience of the American people with the monstrous and socially paralysing party systems that had sprung out of their absurd electoral arrangements, led to the appearance of what came to be called the 'Modern State' movement, and a galaxy of brilliant writers, in America, Europe, and the East, stirred up the world to the thought of bolder rearrangements of social interaction, property, employment, education, and government, than had ever been contemplated before. No doubt these Modern State ideas were very largely the reflection upon social and political thought of the vast revolution in material things that had been in progress for two hundred years, but for a long time they seemed to be having no more influence upon existing institutions t. . . Read More

Community Reviews

H. G. Wells is recognised as one of originators of science fiction. His remarkable novels, written around the start of the twentieth century, set the bar extremely high. The Time Machine, The Island of Dr Moreau, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds and The First Men in the Moon, for example, ar

ENGLISH: In the Preface to this book, Wells acknowledges his poor ability predicting the future: As a prophet, the author must confess that he has always been inclined to be a rather slow prophet. Indeed, in this novel, written in 1913 and published in 1914, Wells predicts that World War I would beg

I hadn't read anything by H. G. Wells since high school but this sounded intriguing so I tried it. Wells was quite prophetic in his prediction of world war and atomic bombs when he wrote the book in 1913, before either had occurred, but he was off on the details. He predicted the war to occur in 195

I have read other HG Wells books, and this one was on par with his part storytelling, part documentary-philosophy format, which is admittedly not always an easy read.

Wells wrote the book in 1913, and the alternate history story he writes predicts such things as atomic bombs, an increase in capitalis

I read this when I was about 11 and I can't remember a thing about it, except that Wells predicts atomic weapons and they finally turn out to be a good thing. I suddenly feel I should re-read it!
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Looking for something else, I just made a startling discovery.

As Iran and America ramp up nuclear war, it is time to reappraise this 1914 novel predicting the atomic bomb. In the wake of the worldwide nuclear catastrophe, Wells envisions a form of world state, a global government, to prevent complete armageddon, not unlike the formation of the UN after WWII. T

This is one of the more unsettling pieces of sci-fi I've read. I say "unsettling" not because of the early predictions of use of atomic power as energy, and (as most often cited by other reviews) nuclear war, but by the future echoes of Brexit, Marine LePen, and the question of a viable European uni

Like nearly everyone who has already reviewed this book, I found Wells’s prescience astonishing! Admittedly, this was my first H.G. Wells book and I expected the prose to be stronger. Nonetheless, one cannot help but suspect that all the prophetic aspects of the work (atomic energy and atomic weapo

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