The First Men in The Moon is a book that can be enjoyed at a number of levels. On the face of it, the book can be seen simply as a quaint old piece of fun science fiction that in hindsight got some pretty fundamental things about the moon terribly wrong. However, the phisical aspects of the moon and life upon the moon aside, Wells has captured superbly the inner thoughts of man while engaged in space travel. It is well documented that asronaughts are often overcome by a deeply moving, almost religious, introspection while confronted by the enorminty and wonder of viewing the earth from space. A passage from the book describing the character, Mr Bedford’s, iner thoughts while returning home to earth alone after losing his companion and believing him to be dead is quite remarkable:
“Over me, around me, closing in on me, embracing me, ever nearer, was the eternal; that which was before the beginning, and that which triumphs over the end; that enormous void in which all light and life and being is but the thin and vanishing slendour of a falling star, the cold, the stillness, the silence – the infinite and final Night of space.”
Two men, namely Bedford and Cavor, travel to the moon in a sphere designed by Cavor. When they arrive there, they are most amazed at what they see, something like snow, plants growing at alarming rates, and strange beings called Selenites among others. The adventure actually takes place ‘inside’ the moon after Bedford falls into a crevice as the two explore the surface, after the ‘snow’ lures them out of the safety of thier sphere.
Well after an entire range of adventures, including a fight with the moon beings, eating moon plants, having to endure a disgusting blue light, and finally separating, Bedford finds the sphere, tries looking for and signalling to Cavor but never finds him, and finally heads back to earth.
After many months elapse and Bedford gets his earthly life back in order, he receives a message from a Julius Wendigee regarding messages being received form space in english. Well the messages actually emanate from Cavor who day by day has been and continues to send messages regarding his experiences. This continues until one day the messages stop. This is the last that Bedford hears of Cavor.
Considering that this book was written in 1901 (68 years before man first set foot on the moon)this example demonstrates that Wells not only had a great talent for creating exciting new concepts but also had a deep understanding of the nature of man and the uncanny ability to accurately imagine how one might feel in an environment and situation never before experienced by man at that time.
A wonderful read.