The Shape of Things to Come by H. G. Wells

The Shape of Things to Come

byH. G. Wells

Kobo ebook | December 21, 2012

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The Shape of Things to Come is a work of science fiction by H. G. Wells, published in 1933, which speculates on future events from 1933 until the year 2106. In the book a world state is established as the solution to mankind's problems.

As a frame story, Wells claims that the book is his edited version of notes written by an eminent diplomat, Dr. Philip Raven, who had been having dream visions of a history textbook published in 2106, and wrote down what he could remember of it. It is split into five separate sections or "books":

    Today And Tomorrow: The Age of Frustration Dawns - The history of the world up to 1933.
    The Days After Tomorrow: The Age of Frustration - 1933-1960.
    The World Renaissance: The Birth of the Modern State - 1960-1978.
    The Modern State Militant - 1978-2059.
    The Modern State in Control of Life - 2059 to New Year's Day 2106.

Wells predicted a Second World War breaking out with a European conflagration from the flashpoint of a violent clash between Germans and Poles at Danzig. Wells set the date for this as January 1940.

Poland proves the military match of Nazi Germany and engages in an inconclusive war lasting ten years. More countries are eventually dragged into the fighting, France and the Soviet Union are only marginally involved, Britain remains neutral, the US fights inconclusively with Japan.

The war drags on until 1950 and ends with no victor but total exhaustion, collapse and disintegration of all fighting states (and also of the neutral countries, equally affected by the deepening economic crisis). Europe and the whole world descend into chaos: nearly all central governments break down, and a devastating plague in 1956-57 kills a large part of humanity and almost destroys civilization.

Wells then envisages a benevolent dictatorship—'The Dictatorship of the Air' (a term likely modelled on 'The Dictatorship of the proletariat' and concept similar to Kipling's Aerial Board of Control )—arising from the controllers of the world's surviving transportation systems (the only people with global power). This dictatorship promotes science, enforces Basic English as a global lingua franca, and eradicates all religion, setting the world on the route to a peaceful utopia. When the dictatorship chooses to murder a subject, the condemned person is given a chance to take a poison tablet.

Eventually, after a century of reshaping humanity, the dictatorship is overthrown in a completely bloodless coup, the former rulers are sent into a very honourable retirement, and the world state "withers away" (as was predicted by Friedrich Engels in his 1877 work Anti-Duhring). The last part of the book is a detailed description of the Utopian world which emerges, in some ways reminiscent of Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward. The ultimate aim of this utopian world is to produce a world society composed entirely of polymaths, each and every one of its members the intellectual equal of the greatest geniuses of the past.

Title:The Shape of Things to ComeFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:December 21, 2012Publisher:Download eBooksLanguage:English

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