1000 Books In 10 Years; Vol. 177: The Sleeper Awakes, by H. G. Wells

Oh, to fall asleep and wake up to find you are the ruler of Earth.  Such is the premise of H. G. Wells’s The Sleeper Awages.  A Victorian man of modest means goes into a sleep that lasts two centuries, and during that time finds he has not only inherited two very large estates, but also finds that the compound interest had increased by so much over the two centuries that he was sleeping that he now owns the entire planet.  The world he awakes in is a capitalist nightmare.  There are no political bodies, no senates, no congress, no house of representatives, only a council which acts on behalf of the sleeper, and when he awakes, they seek to keep him in the dark about his own power that they might save their own, but another man has stirred the working classes to move and rescues the sleeper.  The new leader though seeks to simply replace the council and change nothing.  This of course does not sit well with the Victorian sleeper who is inspired to bring democracy to the people of the on the cusp of entering the 22nd century.  Wells though admits that the work is flawed.  It was initially released as a serial and written at a time when Wells himself was ill and had to choose to focus on one of two works, and he chose the other rather than The Sleeper Awakes.  There is no love interest to speak of, and much of the book is simply an explanation of the conditions of the new world as they are explained to the transported Victorian.  There are action scenes, but they come across as unorganized, and the sacrificial ending is predictable.  It is a work worth reading if you are a fan of science fiction, or a fan of Wells, and because it centers around class struggle there is certainly enough material in there for academic readers, but the book did seem to be lacking something, but that is perhaps because it is a science fiction book written over 100 years ago and so the magic of the imagined world is a little lost on the contemporary reader.  To have read this book when it was first published would have been entertaining indeed!

Rambler About Rambler

Jason John Horn is a writer and critic who recently completed his Master's in English Literature at the University of Windsor. He has composed a play, a novella and a number of short stories and satirical essays.

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