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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Taking us to whole new worlds


“Human history in essence is the history of ideas.” – H. G. Wells

“The father of science fiction," although some argue that it was Jules Verne), Wells was born on this date in 1866.  A prolific English writer in many genres, including the novel, history, and social commentary, he authored such sci-fi classics as The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau, and The War of the Worlds, which got even more famous after a 1938 radio broadcast by actor Orson Welles.

Born into a poor family, Wells became enamored with books after breaking a leg at age 9 and spending his recuperation time reading books                                 
from the library.  He decided then and there 
that he would be a writer.  But first he had to get his education, which he did on his own, overcoming much financial and personal hardship -- both things that shaped his writing.   Eventually he earned an advanced degree in biology.

That scientific background stood him in good stead when he started writing his “fantastical” stories that became the foundation for what would be termed “science” fiction.  Also an artist, Wells made part of his living doing sketches but noted “I had rather be called a journalist than an artist” since it was also during that time – in his late 20s and 30s – that he started writing social commentary in both newspapers and magazines.  But, while he was widely read in other genres, it was his science fiction that made him famous.

Wells noted that an author should always strive to make a story as credible as possible, even if both the writer and the reader knew certain elements are impossible.  That allows a reader to accept the ideas as something that could really happen, he noted.  Today, that is called "making the plausible impossible."

“What really matters,” he said, “is what you do with what you have.”

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