The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth

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Overview

In the middle years of the nineteenth century there first became abundant in this strange world of ours a class of men, men tending for the most part to become elderly, who are called, and who are very properly called, but who dislike extremely to be called- "Scientists." They dislike that word so much that from the columns of Nature, which was from the first their distinctive and characteristic paper, it is as carefully excluded as if it were- that other word which is the basis of all really bad language in this...
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The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth (Barnes & Noble Digital Library)

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Overview

In the middle years of the nineteenth century there first became abundant in this strange world of ours a class of men, men tending for the most part to become elderly, who are called, and who are very properly called, but who dislike extremely to be called- "Scientists." They dislike that word so much that from the columns of Nature, which was from the first their distinctive and characteristic paper, it is as carefully excluded as if it were- that other word which is the basis of all really bad language in this country. But the Great Public and its Press know better, and "Scientists" they are, and when they emerge to any sort of publicity, "distinguished scientists" and "eminent scientists" and "well-known scientists" is the very least we call them.
Certainly both Mr. Bensington and Professor Redwood quite merited any of these terms long before they came upon the marvellous discovery of which this story tells. Mr. Bensington was a Fellow of the Royal Society and a former president of the Chemical Society, and Professor Redwood was Professor of Physiology in the Bond Street College of the London University, and he had been grossly libelled by the anti-vivisectionists time after time. And they had led lives of academic distinction from their very earliest youth.
They were of course quite undistinguished looking men, as indeed all true Scientists are. There is more personal distinction about the mildest-mannered actor alive than there is about the entire Royal Society. Mr. Bensington was short and very, very bald, and he stooped slightly; he wore gold-rimmed spectacles and cloth boots that were abundantly cut open because of his numerous corns, and Professor Redwood was entirely ordinary in his appearance. Until they happened upon the Food of the Gods (as I must insist upon calling it) they led lives of such eminent and studious obscurity that it is hard to find anything whatever to tell the reader about them.[...]
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781495909887
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
  • Publication date: 8/29/2014
  • Pages: 168
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author

H. G. Wells
Author of such classics as The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, and The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth.

Biography

Social philosopher, utopian, novelist, and "father" of science fiction and science fantasy, Herbert George Wells was born on September 21, 1866, in Bromley, Kent. His father was a poor businessman, and young Bertie's mother had to work as a lady's maid. Living "below stairs" with his mother at an estate called Uppark, Bertie would sneak into the grand library to read Plato, Swift, and Voltaire, authors who deeply influenced his later works. He shoed literary and artistic talent in his early stories and paintings, but the family had limited means, and when he was fourteen years old, Bertie was sent as an apprentice to a dealer in cloth and dry goods, work he disliked.

He held jobs in other trades before winning a scholarship to study biology at the Normal School of Science in London. The eminent biologist T. H. Huxley, a friend and proponent of Darwin, was his teacher; about him Wells later said, "I believed then he was the greatest man I was ever likely to meet." Under Huxley's influence, Wells learned the science that would inspire many of his creative works and cultivated the skepticism about the likelihood of human progress that would infuse his writing.

Teaching, textbook writing, and journalism occupied Wells until 1895, when he made his literary debut with the now-legendary novel The Time Machine, which was followed before the end of the century by The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds, books that established him as a major writer. Fiercely critical of Victorian mores, he published voluminously, in fiction and nonfiction, on the subject of politics and social philosophy. Biological evolution does not ensure moral progress, as Wells would repeat throughout his life, during which he witnessed two world wars and the debasement of science for military and political ends.

In addition to social commentary presented in the guise of science fiction, Wells authored comic novels like Love and Mrs. Lewisham, Kipps, and The History of Mister Polly that are Dickensian in their scope and feeling, and a feminist novel, Ann Veronica. He wrote specific social commentary in The New Machiavelli, an attack on the socialist Fabian Society, which he had joined and then rejected, and literary parody (of Henry James) in Boon. He wrote textbooks of biology, and his massive The Outline of History was a major international bestseller.

By the time Wells reached middle age, he was admired around the world, and he used his fame to promote his utopian vision, warning that the future promised "Knowledge or extinction." He met with such preeminent political figures as Lenin, Roosevelt, and Stalin, and continued to publish, travel, and educate during his final years. Herbert George Wells died in London on August 13, 1946.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The War of the Worlds.

Good To Know

In 1891, Wells married his cousin Isabel. However, he eventually left her for one of his brightest students, Amy Catherine, whom he married in 1895.

Wells was once interviewed on the radio by an extremely nervous Orson Welles. The two are unrelated, of course.

Many of Wells's novels became film adaptations, including The Island of Dr. Moreau, filmed in 1996 by Richard Stanley and John Frankenheimer, and The Time Machine, filmed in 2002 by Wells's great-grandson, Simon Wells.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Herbert George Wells (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 21, 1866
    2. Place of Birth:
      Bromley, Kent, England
    1. Date of Death:
      August 13, 1946
    2. Place of Death:
      London, England

Table of Contents

Book I--The Dawn of the Food
1. The Discovery of the Food
2. The Experimental Farm
3. The Giant Rats
4. The Giant Children
5. The Minimificence of Mr. Bensington
Book II--The Food in the Village
1. The Coming of the Food
2. The Brat Gigantic
Book III--The Harvest of the Food
1. The Altered World
2. The Giant Lovers
3. Young Caddles in London
4. Redwood's Two Days
5. The Giant Leaguer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2013

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    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The best social commentary I've ever read!

    The Food of the Gods now completes the sci-fi novels of Wells in my library. My favorite chapter of the book is Chapter III where the giant rats appear. This book isn't well known like the Time Machine or War of the Worlds yet it is very poignant because it focuses on the ethics of genetic engineering. Wells wasn't merely a writer of science fiction but a rabid social investigator. First published in 1904, the novel is very poignant because it reveals the human reaction to those who are different. Children who eat the Food of the Gods become giants and are treated as outcasts and menaces to society. The book ends with the giant's fate to be determined by a hostile world. Will they be accepted or driven to extinction like the Neandertals by modern man?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2009

    Another remarkable early SF by Wells

    This book describes the story of some growth-increasing substance, the `Food of the Gods', which after its discovery by two british gentleman-scientists spreads out, partially by insufficiently supervised experiments, and partially intentional, and generates giant plants, giant wasps, rats and other animals, and giant humans. The threat by giant animals is brought under control, but the giant humans become a political issue, a politician starts a movement that blames all difficulties on the giants, and demands that all giants be killed; the movement spreads, sweeps aside the old political structures, and takes over the country. The book ends in the night before the battle against the giants, which the giants might or survive or not, but since they spread the substance everywhere, there will be always new giants. Like other Wells classics,
    it is a strong story, which carries over weaknesses in writing and gaps in the story.

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