Men Like Gods

Men Like Gods (1923) is a novel, referred to by the author as a "scientific fantasy",[2] by English writer H. G. Wells.[1][3] It features a utopia located in a parallel universe.

Men Like Gods
First edition cover
AuthorH. G. Wells
CountryUnited Kingdom
Published1923 (Cassell and Company, Ltd)[1]
Media typePrint (hardback)
Preceded byThe Secret Places of the Heart 
Followed byThe Dream 

Plot summary

Men Like Gods is set in the summer of 1921. Its protagonist is Mr. Barnstaple (his first name is either Alfred or William[4]), a journalist working in London and living in Sydenham. He has grown dispirited at a newspaper called The Liberal and resolves to take a holiday. Quitting wife and family, he finds his plans disrupted when his and two other automobiles are accidentally transported with their passengers into "another world", which the "Earthlings" call Utopia.

A sort of advanced Earth, Utopia is some three thousand years ahead of humanity in its development. For the 200,000,000 Utopians who inhabit this world, the "Days of Confusion" are a distant period studied in history books, but their past resembles humanity's in its essentials, differing only in incidental details: Their Christ, for example, died on the wheel, not on the cross. Utopia lacks any world government and functions as a successfully realised anarchy. "Our education is our government," a Utopian named Lion says.[5] Sectarian religion, like politics, has died away, and advanced scientific research flourishes. Life in Utopia is governed by "the Five Principles of Liberty", which are privacy, free movement, unlimited knowledge, truthfulness, and free discussion (allowing criticism).

Men Like Gods is divided into three books. Details of life in Utopia are given in Books I and III. In Book II, the Earthlings are quarantined on a rocky crag after infections they have brought cause a brief epidemic in Utopia. There they begin to plot the conquest of Utopia, despite Mr. Barnstaple's protests. He betrays them when his fellows try to take two Utopians hostage, forcing Mr. Barnstaple to escape execution for treason by fleeing perilously.

In Book III, Mr. Barnstaple longs to stay in Utopia, but when he asks how he can best serve Utopia, he is told that he can do this "by returning to your own world".[6] Regretfully he accepts, and ends his month-long stay in Utopia. But he brings with him back to Earth a renewed determination to contribute to the effort to make a terrestrial Utopia: "[H]e belonged now soul and body to the Revolution, to the Great Revolution that is afoot on Earth; that marches and will never desist nor rest again until old Earth is one city and Utopia set up therein. He knew clearly that this Revolution is life, and that all other living is a trafficking of life with death."[7]

Critical response

Contemporary reviews of the novel were largely positive,[8] though some found the story weakly plotted. As is often the case in his later fiction, Wells's utopian enthusiasm exceeded his interest in scientific romance or fantasy (his own terms for what is now called science fiction). The novel was yet another vehicle for Wells to propagate ideas of a possible better future society, also attempted in several other works, notably in A Modern Utopia (1905). Men Like Gods and other novels like it provoked Aldous Huxley to write Brave New World (1932), a parody and critique of Wellsian utopian ideas.[9]

Wells himself later commented on the novel: "It did not horrify or frighten, was not much of a success, and by that time, I had tired of talking in playful parables to a world engaged in destroying itself."[10]


Several characters in the novel are directly taken from the politics of the 1920s. Rupert Catskill probably represents Winston Churchill,[11] as he was seen at that time: a reckless adventurer. Catskill is depicted as a reactionary ideologue,[12] criticises Utopia for its apparent decadence, and leads the attempted conquest of Utopia.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Publication Listing / Men Like Gods". The Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Retrieved 12 February 2010. First published 1923
  2. ^ H.G. Wells, Seven Famous Novels (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1934), p. x.
  3. ^ "Men Like Gods by H G Wells". FantasticFiction. Retrieved 12 February 2010. January 1923
  4. ^ H.G.Wells,Men Like Gods, Book III, Ch.4, Sect. 7.
  5. ^ H.G. Wells, Men Like Gods, Book I, Ch. 5, Sect. 6.
  6. ^ H.G. Wells, Men Like Gods, Book III, Ch. 3, Sect. 1.
  7. ^ H.G. Well, Men Like Gods, Book III, Ch. 4, Sect. 2.
  8. ^ H. W. Wilson Company, ed. (2007). The Book Review Digest. 20. BiblioBazaar, LLC. ISBN 978-1-116-07130-6. fails to work his material into a homogeneous product ... – + Boston transcript p2 My 26 '23 ... hardly likely to rank as ... greatest ... but it is difficult ... to find an effective argument against ranking it as the most beautiful ... + – Greensboro (N C) Daily News p19 Jl 29 '23 ... amusing ... so breathless an adventure ... revealing eloquence ... H. W. Boynton + Ind 110 379 Je 9 '23 ... clever bits ... amusing touches ... entertaining ... L M Field + Int Bk R p54 Je '23 ... not only inferior and commonplace, but a plagiarism of Wells's own earlier books ... obsessed by opinions ... M M Colum – Lit R p809 Jl 7 '23 ... right in his premises + Nature ... deftness and sense of the comic ... may taste like ashes and sawdust ... + – New Repub ... laziness ... – N Y Tribune ... richness of humor, of satire of description ... + N Y World ... not a rhapsody ... one of most delightful novels ... brilliant and inspired ... + – Spec
  9. ^ Aldous Huxley, Letters of Aldous Huxley, ed. by Grover Smith (New York and Evanston: Harper & Row, 1969), p. 348: "I am writing a novel about the future — on the horror of the Wellsian Utopia and a revolt against it. Very difficult. I have hardly enough imagination to deal with such a subject. But it is none the less interesting work" (letter to Mrs. Kethevan Roberts, 18 May 1931).
  10. ^ H.G. Wells, Seven Famous Novels (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1934), p. x. Wells adds: "I was becoming too convinced of the strong probability of very strenuous and painful human experiences in the near future to play about with them much more. But I did two other sarcastic fantasies, not included here, Mr. Blettsworthy on Rampole Island and The Autocracy of Mr. Parham, in which there is I think a certain gay bitterness, before I desisted altogether."
  11. ^ "Churchill & the Literary World". The Churchill Centre and Museum at the Cabinet War Rooms. London. Archived from the original on 2 October 2009. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
  12. ^ Weidhorn, Manfred (1992). A harmony of interests: explorations in the mind of Sir Winston Churchill. Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-8386-3466-0.

External links

1923 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1923.

For works published in the United States, this year is also significant because from January 1, 2019, these were the first in 20 years to enter the public domain. They were originally to do so in 1999, but the U.S. Congress extended the length of copyright by twenty years.

A Modern Utopia

A Modern Utopia is a 1905 novel by H. G. Wells.

Because of the complexity and sophistication of its narrative structure A Modern Utopia has been called "not so much a modern as a postmodern utopia." The novel is best known for its notion that a voluntary order of nobility known as the Samurai could effectively rule a "kinetic and not static" world state so as to solve "the problem of combining progress with political stability".

Anthony West (author)

Anthony West (4 August 1914 – 27 December 1987) was a British author and literary critic.

Brave New World

Brave New World is a dystopian novel written in 1931 by English author Aldous Huxley, and published in 1932. Largely set in a futuristic World State of genetically modified citizens and an intelligence-based social hierarchy, the novel anticipates huge scientific developments in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation, and classical conditioning that are combined to make a utopian society that goes challenged only by a single outsider. Huxley followed this book with a reassessment in an essay, Brave New World Revisited (1958), and with Island (1962), his final novel.

In 1999, the Modern Library ranked Brave New World fifth on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. In 2003, Robert McCrum writing for The Observer included Brave New World chronologically at number 53 in "the top 100 greatest novels of all time", and the novel was listed at number 87 on the BBC's survey The Big Read.

G. P. Wells

George Philip Wells FRS (17 July 1901 – 27 September 1985), son of the British science fiction author H. G. Wells, was a zoologist and author. He co-authored, with his father and Julian Huxley, The Science of Life. A pupil at Oundle School, he was in the first class to learn Russian as a modern language in a British school. He accompanied his father to Soviet Russia in 1920, acting as his Russian translator and exchanging ideas with Russian zoology students. He won an entrance Exhibition to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he became Senior Scholar in his first year of residence.Wells, a comparative physiologist, worked on invertebrates of several phyla. He determined their tolerance for changes in the salinity and the ionic balance of the surrounding water, and analysed the water relations of land gastropods.

For the latter part of his career he was a member of staff in the Zoology Department of University College London, eventually as professor. His range of zoological knowledge was notably wide, and his main research was on the behaviour of the lugworm Arenicola. He determined its habits by elegant experiments, and showed that the rhythm which controls many of its activities arises in the oesophagus. Such spontaneous rhythmic activity was shown to occur in many polychaetes.

He was known to all by his nickname, Gip, and appears by this name in his father's fictional story "The Magic Shop". He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1955.Wells also published the 1971 (and last) edition of his father's The Outline of History in the wake of Raymond Postgate's death in March of that year. Postgate had revised four previous editions following H. G. Wells' death in 1946, published in 1949, 1956, 1961 and 1969. He also edited and published H. G. Wells in Love, his father's account of his main extramarital love affairs.

Gazelle Twin

Gazelle Twin is the stage name of Elizabeth Bernholz (née Walling), a British composer, producer and musician from Brighton, England.Walling conceived the project when she watched Fever Ray perform at the 2009 Loop Festival. She noted how "her show reminded me how powerful and liberating costume is, and I became interested in the power of disguise".Her debut album, The Entire City, was released in July 2011 to critical acclaim. The album includes her three previously recorded singles, "Changelings" (2010), "I Am Shell I Am Bone" and "Men Like Gods" (2011). In 2014 Gazelle Twin released her second album, Unflesh, to further critical praise. In an interview with Guy Mankowski for PopMatters, Bernholz mentioned that in the live shows for Unflesh she would be performing in a version of her PE kit from school, saying she wanted to 'go back to my teenage years to literally live out the idea of being a freak, like I thought I was (and was often made to feel) at the time.'She has also remixed music by John Foxx. She married the local musician Jez Bernholz who also performs with her on-stage.

Groff Conklin

Edward Groff Conklin (September 6, 1904 – July 19, 1968) was an American science fiction anthologist. He edited 40 anthologies of science fiction, one of mystery stories (co-edited with physician Noah Fabricant), wrote books on home improvement and was a freelance writer on scientific subjects as well as a published poet. From 1950 to 1955, he was the book critic for Galaxy Science Fiction.

Born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, Conklin was educated at Dartmouth College and Harvard University, and graduated from Columbia University in 1927. He drifted through a series of jobs in the 1930s and 1940s, working for several government agencies during WWII. He was a book editor for Robert M. McBride & Co. and did public relations work for the Federal Home Loan Bank, the Office of Strategic Services, the Department of Commerce, the National Cancer Institute and the American Diabetes Association. He was also a former scientific researcher for the N.W. Ayer & Son advertising agency.

H. G. Wells (crater)

H. G. Wells is a lunar impact crater that is located on the far side of the Moon, behind the northeastern limb. It lies to the south of the crater Millikan, and to the northeast of Cantor. Just to the southeast is the smaller Tesla.

This large formation is most notable for the extremely battered state of its outer rim. Little or nothing remains of the original rim, so completely has it been eroded and incised by smaller craters. As a result, the crater floor is now surrounded by a ring of irregular peaks and worn crater valleys. This rugged surroundings intrudes only part way into the interior, while the remaining floor is relatively level and in some places gently rolling. The interior is marked only by a multitude of tiny craterlets.

The writer H. G. Wells earned the right to have a Moon crater named after him by his well-known science fiction, including the novel The First Men in the Moon.

In the Abyss

"In the Abyss" is a short story by English writer H. G. Wells, first published in 1896 in Pearson's Magazine. It was included in The Plattner Story and Others, a collection of short stories by Wells first published in 1897. The story describes a journey to the ocean bed in a specially-designed metal sphere; the explorer within discovers a civilization of human-like creatures.

Joseph Wells (cricketer)

Joseph Wells (14 July 1828 – 14 October 1910) was an English cricketer and father of the noted author H. G. Wells.

Parallel universes in fiction

A parallel universe, also known as an alternate universe or alternate reality, is a hypothetical self-contained reality co-existing with one's own. A specific group of parallel universes are called a "multiverse", although this term can also be used to describe the possible parallel universes that constitute reality. While the three terms are generally synonymous and can be used interchangeably in most cases, there is sometimes an additional connotation implied with the term "alternate universe/reality" that implies that the reality is a variant of our own, with some overlap with the similarly-named Alternate history. The term "parallel universe" is more general, without implying a relationship, or lack of relationship, with our own universe. A universe where the very laws of nature are different – for example, one in which there are no Laws of Motion – would in general count as a parallel universe but not an alternative reality and a concept between both fantasy world and earth.

The actual quantum-mechanical hypothesis of parallel universes is "universes that are separated from each other by a single quantum event."

The Argonauts of the Air

"The Argonauts of the Air" is a short story by H. G. Wells, first published in 1895 in Phil May's Annual. It was included in the collection of Wells short stories The Plattner Story and Others, published by Methuen & Co. in 1897.Written several years before the first flight of the Wright brothers, it describes the painstaking development of a flying machine, in the face of public amusement, and its unsuccessful trial flight over London.

Wells lived at one time in Worcester Park, where the machine is launched; he studied at the Royal College of Science, where it crashes.

The Cone

"The Cone" is a short story by H. G. Wells, first published in 1895 in Unicorn. It was intended to be "the opening chapter of a sensational novel set in the Five Towns", later abandoned.The story is set at an ironworks in Stoke-on-Trent, in Staffordshire. An artist is there to depict the industrial landscape; the manager of the ironworks discovers his affair with his wife, and takes him on a tour of the factory, where there are dangerous features.

The Diamond Maker

"The Diamond Maker" is a short story by H. G. Wells, first published in 1894 in the Pall Mall Budget. It was included in The Stolen Bacillus and Other Incidents, the first collection of short stories by Wells, first published in 1895.

In the story, a businessman hears an account from a man who has devoted years attempting to make artificial diamonds, only to end as a desperate outcast.

The Entire City

The Entire City is the debut studio album by the English electronic music project Gazelle Twin of composer, producer and musician Elizabeth Bernholz. It was released on 11 July 2011, through Anti-Ghost Moon Ray Records.

The Plattner Story

"The Plattner Story" is a short story by English writer H. G. Wells, first published in 1896 in The New Review. It was included in The Plattner Story and Others, a collection of short stories by Wells first published in 1897, and in The Country of the Blind and Other Stories, a collection of his short stories first published in 1911. In the story, a man recounts his experiences in a parallel world.

The Sea Raiders

"The Sea Raiders" is a short story by H. G. Wells, first published in 1896 in The Weekly Sun Literary Supplement. It was included in The Plattner Story and Others, a collection of short stories by Wells published by Methuen & Co. in 1897. It was included in The Country of the Blind and Other Stories, a collection of short stories by Wells published by Thomas Nelson & Sons in 1911.The story describes a brief period when a previously unknown sort of giant squid, which attacks humans, is encountered on the coast of Devon, England.

World government in fiction

In both science fiction and utopia/dystopian fiction, authors have made frequent use of the age-old idea of a global state and, accordingly, of world government.

Æpyornis Island

"Æpyornis Island", or "Aepyornis Island", is a short story by H. G. Wells, first published in 1894 in the Pall Mall Budget. It was included in The Stolen Bacillus and Other Incidents, the first collection of short stories by Wells, first published in 1895.

In the story, a man looking for eggs of Aepyornis, an extinct flightless bird, passes two years alone on a small island with an Aepyornis that has hatched.

Short stories

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.