Book Review: H.G. Wells Classic Collection I
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H.G. Wells Classic Collection I
Illustrations by Les Edwards
Publisher: Gollancz/Orion
Release date: March 2011

While you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, there’s no doubt that most people are drawn to a book’s attractive packaging (just look at the Collector’s Edition of J.K. Rowling’s The Tales of Beedle the Bard). And with the rise in popularity of ebooks, thanks to their convenience and low prices, that means that if print books are to continue to sell, publishers need to give consumers incentive to choose print over electronic versions, like supplemental material, illustrations, or collectible packaging. This is what Gollancz, an imprint of Orion, has done with the H.G. Wells Classic Collection I, a 678-page leather-bound hardcover with illustrations by Les Edwards.

This collection contains five of Wells’ most popular science fiction stories: The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The War of the Worlds, The First Men in the Moon, and The Invisible Man. Each chapter begins with a sketch, which alternates throughout the chapters of each book, like goggles and footprints in The Invisible Man and a creature from The Island of Doctor Moreau; there’s also full-page illustrations through the entire collection.

This new book is worth getting just on the strength of its literary contents. All five stories are not only the best of Wells, but also the epitome of science fiction and all of late 19th century literature.

The subject of time travel is very commonplace today, with plenty of books, television shows, and movies using the process as a storytelling device, but back in 1895 when The Time Machine was published, it was innovative. The story centers on an inventor who creates the titular machine and uses it go travel to another time, where he encounters the Eloi and the Morlocks, two warring factions.

The First Men in the Moon takes two men to the Moon for the first time decades before it actually happened; in The Island of Doctor Moreau, a man becomes trapped on a deserted island with a mad vivisector and his twisted creatures; The Invisible Man shows us that discovering a way to become invisible is not such a great thing when you can’t figure out how to become visible again; and The War of the Worlds is the great alien invasion story that started it all.

If you’re interested in owning an attractive book that also contains great stories, the H.G. Wells Classic Collection I will make a wonderful addition to your bookcase. Sometimes large hardcovers can be heavy and unwieldy, but I found this collection to be lightweight for being almost 700 pages and also very easy to hold while reading. The binding was not too tight either; the typeface makes it very easy to read; and of course, the illustrations are a great bonus.

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