In this 1896 science fiction classic, a shipwrecked Englishman named Edward Prendick is rescued from the sea and subsequently abandoned on a secluded island, which he soon finds is owned by a once-eminent British physiologist named Dr. Moreau. Shunned when his gruesome experiments with vivisection were exposed, Moreau continued his experiments on his island with horrific results, creating animals surgically altered to mimic human beings.
Typical of Wells' major science fiction works, The Island of Dr. Moreau reflects a degree of ambivalence about "scientific progress," and looks at the possible effects of science and technology applied without restraint. Much like
"The Invisible Man," it can be viewed as a sort of cautionary tale, warning that science and technology, when pursued and applied outside a structure of societal norms and ethical restraints, can lead to disastrous consequences. In addition, it calls into question the unrestricted use of "vivisection," which then meant surgical experiments on live animals, often without anesthesia, and raises questions of cruelty, pain, man's relationship with animals, and the nature of humanity itself.
Herbert George Wells (1866-1946), was born to shopkeepers previously employed as domestic servants. When an injury ended his father's income as a professional cricketer, Wells' parents apprenticed him to a draper, but he was dismissed after a short time and subsequently became a "pupil-teacher" in a system where older students helped teach younger students. Despite having little formal education, Wells, a voracious reader, won a scholarship to the Normal School of Science in London where he completed courses in biology and physics, but left the school in 1887 after failing geology and losing his scholarship.
Best known today for his science fiction works, Wells' first published book was a biology textbook in 1893. With the publication of The Time Machine in 1895 Wells began a long and successful writing career. The next several years saw the publication of The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The First Men in the Moon and many other works ranging from humorous social commentary novels to non-fiction and political polemics. In 1920, he published his landmark Outline of History, which became the model for "outline" texts in a variety of disciplines.
Over time Wells' works became increasingly political, contentious and argumentative and only his early science fiction novels are widely read today. Those novels provide insights into the science and society of Wells' day and are interesting for their prediction of future events and scientific developments. Wells' science fiction tales are also very entertaining and easy to read. Many of his story elements, like time travel, hostile aliens, mutant creatures and space travel, became common themes in science fiction
In literary circles, Wells' comic novels, virtually unknown to readers of today, are considered outstanding examples of 20th century British literature, and Wells' work is regarded as one of the best examples of pre-World War I liberal optimism. Yet Wells' social optimism is tempered, particularly in his science fiction works, and he clearly voices a sense of dread of science and technology gone out-of-control that runs through post-Victorian British thought.
Wells is often referred to as one of "The Fathers of Science Fiction," and "science fiction" today might look very different without Wells' contributions.
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About the Author
H.G. Wells (1866-1946) published his first novel, The Time Machine, to critical and popular acclaim in 1895. Socially progressive and visionary in intellect, he became one of the most prolific writers of his generation. Through books like The Invisible Man and War of the Worlds, he explored a wide variety of social, philosophical, and political ideas through the medium of what we now call science fiction.
Date of Birth:September 21, 1866
Date of Death:August 13, 1946
Place of Birth:Bromley, Kent, England
Place of Death:London, England
Education:Normal School of Science, London, England