The Island Of Doctor Moreau by HG Wells

Cover to original Island of Dr. MoreauI’m not exactly sure what’s going on in this one. I’ve seen a couple of movies based on it. Being more modern, they involved chemical or genetic transformation of animals into humans (or vice versa.) But in Wells’s original novella, an Englishman named Edward Pendrick ends up on a remote island thanks to a mysterious man named Montgomery saving his life when they are both cast overboard. The island belongs to a Dr. Moreau, at one time a famous vivisectionist in Europe, now disgraced and conducting his bizarre experiments in secret. Moreau surgically alters animals to make them more human-like and trains them to act human.

Wells, like Jules Verne before him, had an uncanny ability to predict coming technology and issues. For instance, he worried about what might happen if humans ever learned to split an atom. His War of the Worlds was a thinly disguised treatise on the unease over what many (including Wells) saw as the inevitability of World War I. But Moreau is just bizzare. Maybe its because I read it in 2016 and am looking back on it from an adulthood that only goes back to the late 1980s. While the culture and pseudoreligion that develops among the “man beasts” because of Moreau’s mad experiments are fascinating, the idea that animals need only be surgically altered to become human-like simply doesn’t wash. But then not everyone get predict the future with 100% accuracy. Verne missed a few times. So did Asimov. Why not Wells, who is normally spot on?

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