“The Haunted Ceiling” by H.G. Wells Debuts 126 Years Later
Good news, readers! H.G. Wells, the illustrious forward-thinking writer of time machines, aliens, insane science, and modern warfare (yeah, that’s a thing, check it out here), has released a new story from beyond the grave. Well, kind of.
Discovered by Andrew Gulli, editor of the Strand magazine, at the University of Illinois, which houses a substantial archive of Wells’s works. Of the thousands of pages found, Gulli narrowed it down to one new, unpublished story: The Haunted Ceiling. Scholars have dated the story to the mid-1890s, a decade when Wells was in dire need of an income and writing his most famous fiction.
Quite fittingly, it’s a ghost story. A man is going insane because he’s haunted by a ghostly apparition of a dead woman on the ceiling. It’s typical of Wells, a hybrid of macabre ghost tale and psychological detective story with a skeptical individual struggling to understand their reality.
H.G. Wells, one of the fathers of the science fiction genre, was a prolific writer. His most famous works fall into the science fiction category, i.e. The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau, and The War of the Worlds. They’re titles you probably know, whether from golden-age radio dramas, movie adaptions, or the novels themselves.
However, Wells was also a scientist, political commentator, and near-prescient futurist. His Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress upon Human Life and Thought (a mouthful, I know) anticipated trains and cars dispersing populations to suburbs, the sexual revolution, the defeat of German militarism, and the European Union. And it was published in 1901, so beat those predictions Nate Silver.
Wells’s also wrote a number of utopian novels where he used his futuristic ideas to reorganize society. This often portrayed the world encountering catastrophe but overcoming the catastrophe through a new way of living: whether that’s a greater rationality on the part of society, a new government, or some other result.
Unfortunately, Wells’s reputation and influence declined towards the end of his life. But his legacy in popular culture and his role in the rise of the science fiction genre live on until the present day.
By John Burleson
Together in one indispensable volume, The Time Machine and The Invisible Man are masterpieces of irony and imaginative vision from H. G. Wells, the father of science fiction.
The Time Machine conveys the Time Traveller into the distant future and an extraordinary world. There, stranded on a slowly dying Earth, he discovers two bizarre races: the effete Eloi and the subterranean Morlocks a haunting portrayal of Darwin s evolutionary theory carried to a terrible conclusion.
The Invisible Man is the fascinating tale of a brash young scientist who, experimenting on himself, becomes invisible and then criminally insane, trapped in the terror of his own creation.
Adrift in a dinghy, Edward Prendick, the single survivor from the good ship Lady Vain, is rescued by a vessel carrying an unusual cargo a menagerie of savage animals. Nursed to recovery by their keeper Montgomery, who gives him dark medicine that tastes of blood, Prendick soon finds himself stranded upon an uncharted island in the Pacific with his rescuer and the beasts. There, he meets the sinister Dr. Moreau a brilliant scientist whose notorious experiments in vivisection have caused him to abandon the civilized world. It soon becomes clear that he has continued to develop these experiments with truly horrific results.
The edition includes a newly established text, a full biographical essay on Wells, a list of further reading, and detailed note. Margaret Atwood s introduction explores the social and scientific relevance of this influential work.
H.G. Wells’s science fiction classic, the first novel to explore the possibilities of intelligent life from other planets, it still startling and vivid nearly after a century after its appearance, and a half-century after Orson Wells’s infamous 1938 radio adaptation. The daring portrayal of aliens landing on English soil, with its themes of interplanetary imperialism, technological holocaust and chaos, is central to the career of H.G. Wells, who died at the dawn of the atomic age. The survival of mankind in the face of “vast and cool and unsympathetic” scientific powers spinning out of control was a crucial theme throughout his work. Visionary, shocking and chilling, The War Of The Worlds has lost none of its impact since its first publication in 1898.