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A Modern Utopia

3.44  ·  Rating Details  ·  489 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
In A Modern Utopia, two travelers fall into a space-warp and suddenly find themselves upon a Utopian Earth controlled by a single World Government.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout hi
Paperback, 281 pages
Published March 31st 2006 by Penguin Books Limited (first published 1905)
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Oct 05, 2014 Margaret rated it it was ok
This is the most frightening utopia I've ever read. It makes me think that Aldous Huxley and George Orwell must have based their dystopias to some extent on H.G. Well's idea of what a utopia would look like.

The book is written more as non-fiction than fiction. Mostly, Wells outlines what he thinks would make for the best possible society, which is essentially a police-state, with a thin fictional premise of two travelers getting lost in the Alps.

About halfway through the book I started highlight
Jan 03, 2011 Shel added it
Shelves: utopias
Written in 1905, H.G. Wells' unusual fiction/non-fiction hybrid describes his ideal world state.

"Our business here is to be Utopian, to make vivid and credible, if we can, first this facet and then that, of an imaginary whole and happy world...It is no doubt an optimistic enterprise."

A Modern Utopia, has elements of a classic utopia (a stranger visits an ideally structured, considered society, explores, and returns home), but Wells undertakes his visit to Utopia with unapologetic, intentional p
N.A. Ratnayake
Dec 08, 2011 N.A. Ratnayake rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
As much as I admire H.G. Wells, I still always find myself struggling to finish utopian novels. Despite his interesting ideas and the honorific of "classic" and "canonical", I'm afraid that I fell into the same complaints with A Modern Utopia as with many others: it is dry, overly-reliant on description instead of humanity, and prone to far more hastily-accepted assumptions than the bulk of the rest of the genre.

Wells does, to be fair, answer the question that is skirted in most utopias, but ce
Susan  Odetta
It was not easy to stick with this, but it was worth it. Some of Wells' utopian ideas seem to be present in our world, often in some bent form not quite what HG had in mind. The way the writer got his ideas onto the page was just so drawn-out sometimes as to make tedious reading; I guess it's just the 1905 way of putting ideas down on paper. But the ideas are wonderful, albeit hilarious at times in the convoluted way described.

One of the funniest aspects of the story was (Wells was his own prota
Thomas Edmund
Jun 02, 2013 Thomas Edmund rated it really liked it
Part fever dream, part intellectual proposal, part inter-dimensional adventure, H.G. Well's Utopia is described by an eloquent narrator arguing with his 'naysayer' botanist colleague.

Strangely unlike most such explorations, Wells does not rely overly heavily on technology, (hence the 'modern' Utopia I guess) instead he discusses the culture, politics and legal systems of his ideal world.

To be frank the first few chapters are straight boring aside from a few tidbits. The real meat of the discussi
Shoma Patnaik
If this book consisted only of the last chapter and perhaps a few excerpts from the ninth, I might have enjoyed it. Unfortunately, it's an awkward, tedious mess of words and dry sociological debate with an adventure into a parallel universe thrown in accidentally amongst the discussions on eugenics and self-cleaning apartments.

Perhaps it was just my mood but right from the beginning, the book and its narrator irritated me. The protagonist is so pompous, you want to club him before you're past th
May 23, 2015 Jenny rated it really liked it
It took me a while to read this because it's complex, not because I didn't like it. I actually thoroughly enjoyed Wells' ideas and his manner of presenting them. His writing isn't particularly good, and sometimes, his ideas are bogged down by philosophical or other "ic" and "al" types of jargon, but I still liked reading his thoughts and responding to them. I took a lot of notes in the margins and underlined many passages. He had some really good ideas and some really horrible ones for his utopi ...more
May 10, 2012 David rated it it was amazing
Condition: Time = Extent (...Olymics Begin)

Olympic flame for London is lit in Greece

By: Associated Press

ANCIENT OLYMPIA, Greece (AP) — The flame that will burn during the London Games was lit at the birthplace of the ancient Olympics on Thursday, heralding the start of a torch relay that will culminate with the opening ceremony on July 27.

Actress Ino Menegaki, dressed as a high priestess, stood before the 2,600-year-old Temple of Hera, and after an invocation to Apollo, the ancient Greeks' Sun
Jul 24, 2013 Ilya rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
I knew that H. G. Wells has written a number of utopian novels, and read George Orwell's criticism of some, but have never read one before. In this book, the writer and his botanist friend are taking a stroll in the Swiss Alps when they walk into a portal that transports them to another planet beyond Sirius, with the same topography as Earth and inhabited by humans. The planet is ruled by a world government (that people living in different corners of the globe might have different interests, and ...more
Katherine (Kat) Nagel
Updated 2015-01-07
Although I originally read this book two years ago, I wanted to re-read it before I give it away. (I often do that with books I didn't like the first time around. Sometimes my opinion changes.)

I enjoyed the book more, this time around, and I think I learned something from it. The archaic language was less of a problem, and some of Wells' attitudes made more sense to me. In particular, I was somewhat less offended by his attitude toward women than I was when I read it before.
Aug 11, 2011 Colleen rated it really liked it
As I began reading this piece, I found I was forcing myself to keep reading. Though, I thought, "I trust that H. G. Wells will come through in the end." I believe I was correct.
At about the halfway point, I started to be okay with the style of 'A Modern Utopia'. As others have written, including Mr. Wells in his introduction, the book begins in essay format, if you will, but then a story evolved. I felt almost repulsed by this idea of utopia.... the sterile structure, the lack of individuality,
Anna Kristina
Oct 18, 2010 Anna Kristina rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Unsuccessful as a philosophy/fiction hybrid - Wells wrote more essays on his ideas of a utopia, then attempted to write transitions between them as fiction. This would have been much more successful if he had focused on the storytelling and world building while carefully weaving the ideas into the story, instead of breaking to it in every chapter. (And I'm currently reading The Great Divorce, where C.S. Lewis successfully intertwines fiction and theology, which makes A Modern Utopia seem even mo ...more
Got this book as a free kindle download from Project Gutenburg(other e-book formats on there too) as such it's difficult to grumble to money was after all spent however I found the book lackluste and in regard to Utopian fiction was a pale body of work compared with Thomas More's Utopia.
H.G.Wells warns in the prologue that this doesn't really work as a form of narrative fiction(the usual form for his more known novels) and it does feel like a bunch of speculative essays held together b
Ian J
Apr 03, 2015 Ian J rated it it was ok
Shelves: sf
Originally published (as so many novels of the time were) in serialised form from October 1904 to April 1905, A Modern Utopia came to be a book later in 1905. I use the term book deliberately. This is no novel. I read a free Gutenberg edition published of the first edition.

Read the full review...
Eero Saikku
Jan 06, 2016 Eero Saikku rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book really makes you think and I liked the mixed story and theory style. The story was maybe a bit simple but it still served it's purpose. Nice to notice that at least in Finland a lot of his ideas are practiced at least in some level. I don't agree with all of Wells' speculations and maybe some of the stuff wouldn't work in practice, but the guy was obviously brilliant. World has become a great deal better place from his times.

I think this was the first book that after finishing I wanted
Sep 18, 2015 Andrew rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 08, 2014 Keyreads rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2014
Unfortunately, I just could not force myself to finish this book . The fact that this read more like an essay than a work of fiction did not help any. I ended up reading other peoples reviews and opinion for the past 30 minutes. I've come to the conclusion this book just isn't for me.
Dan Pollard
This book it's not what I was expecting from Wells. The writing comes across as holier-than-thou and an excuse to put his extremist ideas of what a utopia should be on paper. I read only 40 pages but couldn't being myself to digest anymore of his pompous, classist opinions.
Roger Wood
I revisited this classic after more than 20 years. It was more compelling for me now than it was back then.

With Rad Bradbury's death, and the renewed interest in literary science fiction, British Author HG Wells is primary figure worth reading.

After this reading of Modern Utopia I worked it into a thought leadership piece using a small component of the book to frame the modern subject of digital media interfaces. The piece was written for non-technical business leaders, and uses Modern Utopia'
Daniel Wood
Dec 26, 2014 Daniel Wood rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, classics
Though the Penguin Classics blurb on the back suggests this is a novel, I'd say it's more of a philosophical discussion/extended essay, occasionally making use of the two ostensible characters to illustrate a point or provide a breather.

Not to say that this is a bad thing; as lengthy theses on Utopias go, this is very readable, and shows some remarkable foresight in places. With the exception of the gender roles perhaps, it's dated well, and still reflects current thinking about a semi-liberal U
Ian Caithness
Mar 25, 2011 Ian Caithness rated it liked it
A Modern Utopia is interesting, not because of its political stance or its motivations, but because it takes a different approach to the development and creation of a Utopia. Wells proposes that there is a world much like ours that has developed into a "Utopia" and he has two characters who are plunged into this world from our world. The main protagonist narrates much of the novel and it is very much a manifesto for a political utopia, one very much driven by socialist ideals. It is for that rea ...more
David Hobbs
Mar 22, 2015 David Hobbs rated it it was ok
It should have been an essay proper, but the attempt to write an essay in the form of fiction creates an awkwardness.
Marc Andrew
Oct 16, 2014 Marc Andrew rated it liked it
Shelves: my-books
Mar 29, 2014 Jonas rated it really liked it
Possibly the most plausible Utopia to date?
John Mark King
Jul 23, 2011 John Mark King rated it it was ok
After reading this, I am reminded of how boring utopian literature tends to be. There was some interesting insight here, but so much of what is detailed here pays no mind to human nature or is so utterly naive as to be ridiculous. Did he really think that the best way to organize a global society was to allow only the smart and productive people to have children? And tat a society would actually allow this to happen?
Oct 06, 2008 Julie rated it did not like it
I am officially putting this book down for a while. How long of a while, I do not know...

I started reading it because I was going to try joining this book club that focused on utopian fiction, but I didn't get through it it time, and I just don't feel like pushing myself to plow through it.

Maybe it is something I would like to read later, but I guess we'll see.
Jun 27, 2011 Tony rated it did not like it
I made it about halfway through this book. It took me some time to wrap my mind around the style, which I could not bring myself to enjoy. By the time I got to the part about the central government determining who is fit to marry and raise children I put it down. I may jump to the final chapters to see his conclusions but it will be a chore.
May 14, 2011 Murray rated it liked it
I certainly enjoyed the prose and characters more than the essay-like portions, particularly the various expositions of the human condition provided by the environment the two characters find themselves in. That said, some of the more academic ideas presented are thought-provoking.
Aug 13, 2014 Sara marked it as unfinished
I had to give it back to the library so I don't know when I'll pick it up again, it wasn't really capturing me or anything so we'll see.
Jun 07, 2012 Lauren rated it liked it
This was slow going and a little sloggy in parts but I enjoyed it overall. I've read enough Wells this year to be interested in the way this fits in with his novels, both early and late. I always enjoy his ideas about overlapping worlds or worlds that exist similtaneously.
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In 1866, (Herbert George) H.G. Wells was born to a working class family in Kent, England. Young Wells received a spotty education, interrupted by several illnesses and family difficulties, and became a draper's apprentice as a teenager. The headmaster of Midhurst Grammar School, where he had spent a year, arranged for him to return as an "usher," or student teacher. Wells earned a government schol ...more
More about H.G. Wells...

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“Nothing endures, nothing is precise and certain (except the mind of a pedant), perfection is the mere repudiation of that ineluctable marginal inexactitude which is the mysterious inmost quality of Being” 10 likes
“It is good to stop by the track for a space, put aside the knapsack, wipe the brows, and talk a little of the upper slopes of the mountain we think we are climbing, would but the trees let us see it.” 3 likes
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