Monday, September 22, 2014

Happy 148th Birthday, H.G. Wells!

We celebrate H.G. Wells because he was the first prominent writer to employ the power of speculative fiction to comment on Big Concepts, from class schisms (The Time Machine) to colonizing primitive societies (The War of the Worlds). In the meantime, Wells invented the notion of time machines and the Alien Invasion subgenre. All of that in two books.

Wells wrote so much more, from the animal-human hybrid horrors of The Island of Doctor Moreau, to The Invisible Man, to a two-volume Outline of History. For all this, Wells will always be dear to my heart for the giant horse-sized rats that attacked the horse-drawn carriage in The Food of the Gods

The story concerned a substance that, when ingested, caused the subjects to become giant-sized. I guess it was a parable on growth for growth’s sake or whatever, I dunno. All my Famous Monsters of Filmland-reading, horror-movie-loving 6th-grade mind picked up on was the giant rats ripping the throats out of the horses, and the passengers in the coach barely getting away with their lives. 

I drew and colored this scene for my book report and got a D for my troubles. My overly made-up and poisonously perfumed teacher Mrs. McGill said it was because I’d folded lined notebook paper for my make-believe book jacket instead of construction paper. I remembered no restrictions on media, and said so. I was abruptly ordered back to my chair. Anyway, Happy Birthday, H.G. Wells. 

That sixth grader went on to exploding skulls with .50-cal Desert Eagles when not throwing teenage arsonists to mobs of flesh-eating undead in Bleeding Kansas, then crushing those undead like fat, juicy bugs beneath the tires of a monster truck and setting them on fire in Grace Among the Dead. They’re downloading his e-books in Canada and the UK. I’m even translated into German. As for Mrs. McGill, she was fired the next year for losing her composure in front of a particularly rowdy class. What a world, huh?