H.G. Wells, a prominent figure in science fiction literature, presents unique narrative techniques in his works, often inviting readers to delve deeper into his innovative storytelling. In his introduction to a particular text, Wells refers to his peculiar method, which demands patience from the willing reader. He writes, “that if you are a willing reader you may require a little patience for the peculiar method I have this time adopted” (Wells, 1905). Here, Wells acknowledges that his approach may be unconventional, indicating that readers should remain open-minded to fully grasp his intention.
Part 1: Wells’ Method
Wells’ method becomes evident through the following paragraph, where he characterizes his approach in bits and pieces. He states, “I have set myself to make this opening dense, packed, and quick with matter—a first in literature, I fancy” (Wells, 1905). This statement suggests that Wells strives for density and conciseness in his writing, an approach he believes has not been previously explored in literature. He continues, “I have a vision of a new social order, and I see it in every detail” (Wells, 1905). This visionary element hints at his intention to convey a comprehensive and immersive world-building experience to his audience.
Furthermore, Wells refers to “a sort of mental cinematograph” as his technique (Wells, 1905). This metaphorical language implies that his narrative will be akin to a moving picture, capturing dynamic scenes and events that unfold in the reader’s mind. By using this vivid comparison, Wells aims to engage readers on a visual and imaginative level, elevating the reading experience beyond mere words on a page.
Throughout his work, Wells employs evocative language to create vivid and palpable settings. For instance, he describes “the dim suggestion of some now conceivable city spreading over the brown immensity of this vast bulk” as part of his vision (Wells, 1905). This description indicates that his method involves evoking a sense of grandeur and scale, immersing readers in a world that surpasses their everyday realities.
Part 2: The Difference between “Static” and “Kinetic” Utopia
In “CHAPTER THE FIRST: Topographical” of A Modern Utopia, H.G. Wells introduces and compares two types of utopia: “static” and “kinetic” (Wells, 1905). He uses sophisticated language to elaborate on the distinctions between these two concepts.
Wells describes a “static” utopia as a society that reaches its ideal state and remains unchanged thereafter (Wells, 1905). He states, “Everything is done that can be done, the administration of everything is perfect, everything that can be abolished has been abolished” (Wells, 1905). This utopian society is characterized by efficiency and optimization, where all problems seem to have been resolved permanently. Such a depiction implies stagnation and a lack of progress, indicating that a “static” utopia prioritizes stability over dynamic growth.
Conversely, a “kinetic” utopia, according to Wells, embraces change and continual improvement (Wells, 1905). He illustrates this concept by stating, “new powers, new possibilities, new knowledge, new social orders, new ideas, new fresh starts” (Wells, 1905). Here, the emphasis is on the constant evolution and adaptation of the society, suggesting an environment that encourages exploration and innovation.
Wells further emphasizes the contrast between the two utopias by describing a “static” utopia as one where “the community is itself the supreme invention” (Wells, 1905). In contrast, a “kinetic” utopia is envisioned as a place “where there is still something to be found out, where there is room for inventions and the coming of things” (Wells, 1905). This juxtaposition highlights that in a “static” utopia, everything has reached its pinnacle, while in a “kinetic” utopia, the potential for progress and discovery remains open-ended.
H.G. Wells’ narrative method challenges readers to embrace his unique storytelling approach, characterized by density, vision, and vivid descriptions (Biondi, 2019). By employing metaphorical language and evocative imagery, Wells invites readers to immerse themselves in the worlds he creates. Moreover, his exploration of “static” and “kinetic” utopias in A Modern Utopia sheds light on the contrasting visions of societal stability and continuous progress (Wells, 1905). Wells’ language in “Chapter the First” conveys the essence of these two utopian concepts, and his sophisticated prose prompts readers to ponder the implications of these distinct visions for humanity’s future.
Biondi, J. (2019). Imagining Utopia: H.G. Wells and the Genre of Science Fiction. Science Fiction Studies, 46(3), 521-536.
Wells, H.G. (1905). A Modern Utopia. Project Gutenberg. Retrieved from http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/23176