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‘For a great space he lay in that strange condition, inert and still—neither dead nor living but, as it were, suspended, hanging midway between nothingness and existence.’
The Sleeper Awakes is among key works that merge incisive social commentary with vivid science fiction.
Graham, a Victorian Englishman, emerges from a slumber lasting 203 years to discover that interest accruing on his property has made him master of the world. The ‘White Council’ has acted as trustees of his wealth, building a vast political system that secures their power. Graham’s awakening poses a threat to this deeply entrenched status-quo.
Wells crafts a Messianic narrative while deftly exploring the exploitation of workers’ labour, the formation of political consciousness, and the betrayal of revolution. Dystopic descriptions of stark impoverishment and ‘babble machines’ producing fake news will make readers question whether the book is a murky reflection of society today.
HG Wells (1866-1946) was a prolific English writer and a socialist, widely regarded as ‘the father of science fiction’. He gained instant literary success with The Time Machine in 1895. Wells met with Trotsky and Lenin during his visit to Russia in 1920.