Penning his first professional works before the dawn of the 20th century, H. G. Wells is often rightly referred to as the Father of Science Fiction. Creating concepts that, though common within the genre now, were almost unthinkable during his time, Wells shaped and defined sci-fi literature as we know it today. Here are a few of his most well-known and critically acclaimed titles, along with just some of the countless reasons we should respect him as a literary innovator.
The Invisible Man is one of the strongest examples of why H. G. Wells' legacy is so enduring. From the sympathetic villain to the science fiction trope of mankind pushing the boundaries of knowledge beyond their natural limits (and the consequences that follow as a result), this story remains one of Wells' most popular works. With adaptations continuing to this day, not only has The Invisible Man gained a strong legacy in the world of fiction, but it also continues to influence and inspire writers an astounding 123 years after its initial 1897 release.
The Island of Doctor Moreau, though perhaps not Wells' best known title, is certainly one of his most effective - and, to put it bluntly, one of his most disturbing. Telling the tale of a mad scientist (one of the first literary depictions of this archetype) who creates human-animal hybrids in isolation, there is as much horror to be found in The Island of Doctor Moreau as there is science fiction. And, considering that this story has been adapted multiple times for the big screen with the latest version coming out in 1996, it stands as a testament to how ahead of his time H. G. Wells truly was with his work.
And here we have it - undoubtedly the first novel that comes to mind when you hear the name of the mastermind who penned it. The War of the Worlds is an absolutely staggering effort at predicting the appearance of hostile extraterrestrial life, an effort which now serves as the blueprint for alien invasion stories. From the tripods to the heat rays, The War of the Worlds had a greater impact on the world than many are aware; the heat rays depicted in the novel were actually looked into as a viable means of warfare, and the story itself caused mass panic across the US when it was first read on air due to the public's belief that they were actually hearing a live alien invasion. A novel worthy of the legacy it has left behind, this is where every budding sci-fi reader should begin their journey.
Ending the list with The Time Machine, this is one of Wells' earliest yet most ambitious stories. It is often credited with popularizing time travel in fiction, telling of a man who manages to brilliantly create a time machine and thus travels to the year 802'701. As haunting as it is mind-blowing, The Time Machine utilizes biblical symbolism to depict a dystopian world where one race feeds on the other - something which now sounds as though it could apply to one thousand science fiction stories, but was entirely original and innovative in 1895, the year in which it was released.
While you're here, be sure to check out our collection of vintage H. G. Wells books, ranging from his most famous works to his more obscure titles.
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