10 Best Novels by H.G. Wells | TheReviewGeek Recommends

You know the name H.G. Wells, but have you actually read his books? This prolific author helped define the science fiction genre and penned some of the most imaginative stories of all time. His novels explore everything from time travel to alien invasions to humanity’s far future. Though Wells wrote over 100 books, some have stood the test of time better than others.

If you’re looking to dive into Wells’ vivid imagination and social commentary, start with these 10 must-read sci-fi classics. From The Time Machine to The Island of Dr. Moreau, Wells takes us on thrilling adventures through time and space. His books will spark deep thinking about human nature, scientific possibility, and society’s moral code.

If you only read one author this year, make it H.G. Wells. His visionary works from the 19th century still shape how we view the future today. Fasten your seatbelts – you’re in for a wild ride!

The Time Machine (1895)

The Time Machine is a must-read for any science fiction fan. In this classic novella, an eccentric scientist invents a machine that can propel him into the distant future.

When the Time Traveler arrives in the year 802,701 AD, he encounters the Eloi, a childlike race living in harmony. But soon he discovers the dark truth about this seeming utopia. The Eloi are being farmed as food by the sinister ape-like creatures known as the Morlocks that dwell underground.

The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896)

This classic sci-fi novel from 1896 tackles the ethics of genetic engineering. Dr. Moreau, a vivisectionist, is exiled to a remote island where he creates human-like creatures by surgically combining animals.

You follow Edward Prendick, a shipwrecked man who stumbles upon the island and is shocked by Moreau’s experiments. Moreau has established himself as a God-like figure to his beastly creations and rules over them with an iron fist.

The Invisible Man (1897)

The Invisible Man is a science fiction novel that tells the story of a scientist named Griffin who discovers a way to turn himself invisible. His newfound ability soon corrupts him and turns him into a dangerous megalomaniac. Griffin is a former medical student who has devoted himself to researching optics and invents a way to change a body’s refractive index to that of air, thus becoming invisible. He successfully carries out the procedure on himself, but soon descends into madness.

When the book was published in 1897, Wells’ depiction of invisibility and its effects on human nature was groundbreaking. 

The War of the Worlds (1898)

The War of the Worlds, arguably Wells’ most famous work, has inspired countless adaptations in various media. In this sci-fi classic, Martians launch a ruthless attack on Earth, decimating the English countryside with their advanced weaponry.

You follow an unnamed protagonist as he struggles to survive and return to his wife amid the chaos. The story plays on fears of foreign invasion and imperialism that were prevalent at the time. It popularized the alien invasion trope that continues in science fiction today. Though the technology and science in the book are dated now, its influence on the genre and popular culture in general cannot be overstated.

This gripping tale of survival against seemingly insurmountable odds will stick with you long after finishing.

The First Men in the Moon (1901)

This science fiction novel tells the story of a British astronomer and an adventurer who travel to the moon aboard a spaceship called the Sphere. Once on the lunar surface, they discover an underground civilization inhabited by insect-like aliens called Selenites. The Selenites capture the protagonists and hold them prisoner, but they eventually escape and return to Earth.

Wells’ depiction of space travel and alien life was groundbreaking for its time. The book explores humanity’s relationship with the unknown and how we often fear what we don’t understand. Although the science behind space travel has advanced a lot since 1901, Wells’ vision was remarkably prescient.

The First Men in the Moon remains a pioneering work of science fiction that paved the way for many sci-fi authors who came after.

The Shape of Things to Come (1933)

The Shape of Things to Come is Wells’ vision of the future, originally published in 1933. Set in the 22nd century, this work of political and social science fiction explores humanity’s future through the eyes of Dr. Philip Raven, a political philosopher who dreams about the next century.

Through these prophetic dreams, you’ll witness the collapse of our current capitalist system and a descent into a worldwide tribal system of authoritarian warlords controlling resources. Fortunately, a “Dictatorship of the Air” emerges to restore order and rebuild society. Under this benevolent world government, humanity achieves a utopian future with sustainable technology, space travel, and a high standard of living for all.

The War in the Air (1908)

The War in the Air is one of H.G. Wells’ most underrated science fiction novels. Published in 1908, it imagines the terrors of aerial warfare decades before the devastation of World War I and II.

In the not-too-distant future, a German student named Bert Smallways becomes accidentally involved in a global war that is largely fought by fleets of airships dropping bombs on cities and infrastructure below. Bert is particularly unlucky, getting caught up in the first surprise attack of the war on New York, and later becoming stranded on a desert island with one of the German airship commanders.

The Food of the Gods and How it Came to Earth (1904)

The Food of the Gods follows a group of children who consume a mysterious food that causes them to grow into giants. Originally meant as an allegory of the effects of education and social privilege, the novel explores what might happen if humans were suddenly given a burst of evolution.

You’ll follow the story of “Bensington’s Food,” a mysterious new substance that causes uncontrollable growth. After being accidentally released into the wild, it’s consumed by various animals and a group of children who grow into towering “giants” with strange mental abilities. However, they face hostility and even violence from normal-sized humans who see them as threatening outsiders.

The World Set Free (1914)

The World Set Free is Wells’ unsettling prediction of a nuclear war and its aftermath. Published in 1914, the novel eerily predicts the invention and use of atomic bombs that would become a devastating reality just over 30 years later.

In the book, Wells imagines an impending world war in the mid-20th century that involves the use of atomic bombs, dropped from planes onto major cities. He describes the bombs as “atomic bombs” and the resulting destruction as “atomic wars.” After much of civilization is destroyed, Wells envisions a single-world government emerging to ensure lasting peace.

The Sleeper Awakes (1899)

The Sleeper Awakes is a dystopian science fiction novel that tells the story of a man who sleeps for over 200 years, waking up in a completely transformed London.

When the main character, Graham, falls asleep in 1897, the world is familiar to late Victorians. When he wakes in 2100, London has become a futuristic world of glass skyscrapers, elevated railways, and dirigibles. During his prolonged sleep, Graham’s assets were placed into a trust, and the interest accumulated over two centuries has made him the richest man in the world.

There we have it, our list of 10 best novels by H.G. Wells. What do you think about our picks? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below:

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