[Review] The Shape of Things to Come - H.G. Wells

Title of Book: The Shape of Things to Come
Author: H.G. Wells
Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Year: 2017
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Pages: 424

When a diplomat dies in the 1930s, he leaves behind a book of 'dream visions' he has been experiencing, detailing events that will occur on Earth for the next two hundred years.
This fictional 'account of the future' (similar to LAST AND FIRST MEN by Olaf Stapledon) proved prescient in many ways, as Wells predicts events such as the Second World War, the rise of chemical warfare and climate change.


The Shape of Things to Come is a science fiction written by H.G. Wells which published in 1933. The Book is framed as a ‘dream book’. In the introduction, Wells wrote that this book is an edited version of collected notes written by Dr Philip Raven, a diplomat. Dr Raven had dreams of a history textbook which supposedly published in 2106. He wrote what he can remember from these dreams into these notes. This book was then published posthumously.

The Shape of Things to Come is split into five ‘books’, chronicling the history of mankind starting from the Great War or World War I to the establishment of the modern state. Each book describes specific era, the condition of the world and how it came to be the utopia that it was.

When I was reading this book, one thing that I need to remind myself constantly is that this book was published in 1933. I always have this problem with Wells’s books, especially because this book is a future history book. Although some of what happened in the book based on actual events, it’s easy to forget that this book is a fiction, an imagined future based on Wells’s knowledge at the time. When I think about it that way, I can’t help but amazed at how visionary Wells was. True, as a person who lives in the 21th century I can see myself that not all of what he predicted come true. Still, to envision such a complex future of the world in which peace is achieved is quite a feat.

Of all the predictions and ideas in this book, one thing that I agree wholeheartedly is the importance of education. However, in Wells’s imagined future, religions were abolished. I believe there’s no need to sacrifice either one. Since it’s an imagined world anyway, I won’t know for sure if we implement Wells’s idea, the state of the world will turn out to be as how the book describes or not.

While it’s quite a fascinating read, I have to give a small warning. The Shape of Things to Come reads like a history textbook. It’s dense and can be boring at times. It took me two months to finish this book. When I was in the mood to read the book, I can get through the long and quite detailed explanation rather quick; But when I wasn’t, reading this book was like a homework. It’s exhausting and some of it went over my head. Having said that, if you’re still interested in reading this book, please do. My tip is to take your time and see the ideas presented in this book as a challenge and provocation.

There is no sense in bringing children into the world unless there is education, training and useful work for them to do.

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