Father of Science Fiction: H. G. Wells

Pages: 10 (3317 words) Published: December 5, 2013
H.G. Wells is the True “Father of Science Fiction”

At the very end of the Victorian Era, there emerged a man of literature the likes of which the world had never before seen. Some know him best as an English novelist, though most of his works were not novels. Some call him a political and social commentator, due to the didactic themes in many of his works. Due to inclusion of the social and natural sciences in his works, he is also known as a popularizer of science. His devotion to the development and establishment of future studies as a science most certainly garnered him the reputation as an early futurist. His pervasive influence in the development of the science fiction genre is indisputable. However it was his masterful weaving together of futurism and speculative fiction into a single body of work dedicated to the future of mankind that earns H.G. Wells the title of “The Father of Science Fiction”.

Herbert George Wells was born in Bromely, Kent, England in September of 1866, the son of a maid and a professional cricketer. When he was eight years old Wells broke his leg and began reading library books to pass the time, stimulating his desire to write. He attended a number of schools throughout his early life, acquiring an extensive background in physics, astronomy, and chemistry. He even studied biology under Thomas Henry Huxley at the Royal College of Science, acquiring extensive knowledge in the theories of evolution. Joining the school Debating Society nurtured his interest toward social issues and reform. Wells considered himself a socialist and was a member of the Fabian Society that included other such notable members as George Bernard Shaw and Virginia Woolf. At that time he also founded The Science School Journal, allowing him a forum to develop his pen for literature, expressing his views on society and perfecting his burgeoning fiction. After doing some teaching, he eventually graduated from The University of London with a Bachelors of Science in zoology. His prolific writing career that followed included hundreds of works over the span of fifty years. His talent for combining the possibilities of science and technology in the form of fictional stories that became known as “science fiction” or as the genre was known in Britain at the time, the “scientific romance”.

Science fiction as a modern literary genre is distinguished by its use of real scientific ideas and concepts to form a story that is plausible within a futuristic or alternative-world setting. The imaginative elements of science fiction are largely possible within the realm of scientific theory and fact. This differentiates science fiction from other speculative genres such as fantasy and horror in that those works are not concerned with scientific and technological possibility. Even Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818), though certainly innovative in using themes of science fiction, is more accurately classified as a horror novel. Horror and fantasy genres also delineate from science fiction in that they include magical and supernatural elements that are absent from the realistic and logical science fiction genre. Though some story elements of sci-fi can be purely imaginary, accurate depictions of science and technology are used to formulate realistic conjectures of the future, or even alternative timelines of the present or past. What distinguishes H.G. Wells from earlier authors who delve into themes of modern science fiction is that he studied science as a primary disciplinary field and applied his knowledge in a literary fashion, focusing on scientific and technological plausibility. All of Wells' scientific romances contain realistic elements that are based on applied scientific methodology and knowledge. Some of these include such famous works as The Time Machine (1895), The Invisible Man (1897), and The War of the Worlds (1898).

Though Wells is considered the “Father of Science Fiction”, it is often argued that Mary Shelley's...

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