H.G. Wells out of copyright – watch this space

H.G. Wells out of copyright – watch this space

Publisher’s promotional tweet

It’s not often that an advert (left) tempts me to blog, but as it’s about H.G. Wells, I’ll make an exception with a brief post.

” Leading classic book publisher Wordsworth Editions has released eight H.G. Wells titles, seven of which – including The War Of The Worlds, The Time Machine and The Invisible Man – are in the publisher’s popular Classics series, retailing for just £1.99 each.”

As I wrote in a previous post, I grew up near the birthplace of H.G. Wells, in Bromley, Kent. And Wells has continued to pop up in my life on a regular basis, one way or another.

Anyway, to return to topic – that advert. Wordsworth’s handy new H.G. Wells editions are surely a harbinger of what’s to come. As of 31 December 2016, Wells’ work has mostly fallen out of copyright and so we might expect a number of publishers to dip their toes into Wellsian waters – in book or film form.

Copyright for most artistic works lasts for 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies. H.G. Wells died on 13th August 1946, so copyright in his work expires from 31 December 2016 (check for exceptions/regional differences). For further information go to the H.G. Wells Society website.

Anyway – that means good news for all Wellsian readers, film goers and reviewers! Note this piece from the BBC website (from Dec. 2015).

A sequel to HG Wells’s The War of the Worlds is to be published in 2017 when the copyright on the original expires. Written by Stephen Baxter, The Massacre of Mankind will see the Martians from Wells’s story invading Earth once more, having learned from the mistakes they made first time around. Gollancz will publish the sequel in hardback and eBook on 19 January 2017.

And more Things to Come*, no doubt. Good times.

Some Wellsian thoughts on the future of humanity

shape-of-things_2* Things to Come is the name of the film version of the H.G. Wells sci-fi novel, The Shape of Things to Come (1933). Worth a mention here, perhaps, as it’s the beginning of a new year and many of us are looking into the future. Though perhaps not as far as HG did!

The book speculates on future events from 1933 to 2106. A global elite create a world state. Religion is suppressed – Islam, Buddhism and Catholicism. There are anti-Jewish pogroms ‘everywhere in Europe’ during the 1950s. After c.100 years of reshaping humanity, the dictatorship is overthrown in a bloodless coup and the world state withers away (sounds familiar). In it’s place a utopian world emerges. Probably a book that conspiracy theorists and lovers of dystopias would enjoy reading, alongside certain other H.G. Wells works, including: The Open Conspiracy – Blue Prints for a World Revolution (1928, revised 1933) and The New World Order (1940).


A Wellsian contradiction?

Wells was a fascinating person and thinker, but it is strange to me that he could have studied and reflected upon evolution and evolutional psychology and yet apparently retained such optimism about a possible utopian society in some of his writing. There seems to be a contradiction. He surely did not believe humans are born with “a blank slate”? Certainly not a serious idea today. It seems we are born with much baggage, not easily compatible with paradise. Sadly, it is likely that Hobbes was far closer to the truth than Rousseau. Perhaps Wells lost confidence in his eventual utopia by the end of his life. His last work was a bleak vision of the world – Mind at the End of Its Tether (1945). Any thoughts on this topic yourself?

BELOW 1:  Film version (93 min) of H. G. Wells’s classic, produced by Alexander Korda.

BELOW 2:  Images from H. G. Wells via Pinterest


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