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The World Set Free

3.5  ·  Rating Details ·  845 Ratings  ·  102 Reviews
In this thought-provoking masterpiece, H.G. Wells predicts the inventions that will inadvertently lead to mass destruction, forcing the world to "start over." You will see many similarities between H.G. Wells' new world and today's world due to the recent technological revolution. This stimulating novel will leave you wondering if and when the remaining predictions will co ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published January 1st 1999 by Quiet Vision Publishing (first published 1914)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mar 21, 2012 Manny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I read this when I was about 11 and I can't remember a thing about it, except that Wells predicts atomic weapons and they finally turn out to be a good thing. I suddenly feel I should re-read it!

Looking for something else, I just made a startling discovery. If we're to believe Leó Szilárd's Wikipedia page, Szilárd, a prominent nuclear physicist, read Wells's book in 1932 and was greatly affected by it.

In 1939, with WW II clearly about to start, Szilárd
Dec 09, 2011 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nuclear-fiction
Like nearly everyone who has already reviewed this book, I found Wells’s prescience astonishing! Admittedly, this was my first H.G. Wells book and I expected the prose to be stronger. Nonetheless, one cannot help but suspect that all the prophetic aspects of the work (atomic energy and atomic weapons) were simply the frame wrapped around the driving force of his social commentary (calling for a World Government). Concerning this World Government, which could be bothersome for some readers, it s ...more
This was an unusual book which at times is written in a very historical textbook-like manner in some distant future looking back upon our times. In other places, the narrative becomes more story-like and focussed upon certain individuals who have an impact on major events. This book is renowned for Wells' predictions of global warfare, the use of planes in battle and the development of nuclear weapons. It also places a strong emphasis on a social move towards gender equality and predicts genetic ...more
Randy Bunting
I enjoyed reading this book even though I was thoroughly aware of the predictions about nuclear weapons. In fact, that was some of the reason I picked the book up. I wanted to read this legendary story about humanity and nuclear warfare. What did surprise me were the predictions that are not discussed with the same regularity. For example, he discusses automation and how a great many people are not needed to produce products. There was a great disparity of wealth due to this decreased need for l ...more
Sep 13, 2016 Simon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

So, HG Wells predicted f*cking everything, including the atomic bomb, the internet, designer babies, the carbon bubble, intensive agriculture, Leicester winning the Premier League, elevated toast, manspreading, floss harps and Tim Wonnacott. Sadly, by failing to predict the on-line betting exchange he was forced to rely on his desultory earnings as a writer rather than retiring to the countryside on his winnings.

Re: book, first half good (nuclear power yields loads of fancy inventions but also n
Vicky Hunt
Who’s Watching Now?

I undoubtedly will be spoiling the entire book, (including and not limited to the last paragraph) so if you want to read The World Set Free spoiler-free, then save my review for later. But, Wells’ ideas are not trivial and beg to be discussed.Though his writing was remarkably intelligent and he handles his topic brilliantly, he comes to very illogical conclusions, he seems dispassionate and cold in his writing, and it was stiff and almost boring at times, unlike his other bo
Oct 03, 2012 Vivian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
He books always as message and the future. In this book, he used a word for the first time in this this world "atom bomb" and we see this in the second world war where this thing was used.

Before writing and thinking the book he read a paper on radium and the energy it posses we lead to forword thinking something called called aton bomb which was unknown then , the radioactivity study before it was there simply blows away your mind, it was unbelievable.

Whatever he thought in that time has become
Aug 05, 2015 Fil rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Slow, pedantic, naive and disappointing. Despite a few prophetic ideas this book was underwhelming. The world government was a bit too Euro-centric for my taste and it was proclaimed with too much dispatch. The ex-King Egbert, the King of the Balkans, the American president and "Home Rule" Indians were instances of racial, or national, prejudices... more than just an annoyance.

I find Wells uneven in his writing, he could be brilliant as in "The Time Machine" and "The Invisible Man" (and please
Liviu Szoke
Mai mult comentariu social decât roman SF, cred că este unul din primele romane care a prevăzut utilizarea bombei atomice și efectele sale, deși autorul nu și-a imaginat nici pe departe scara distrugerilor pe care aceasta le-ar putea cauza.
Selena Beckman-Harned
Wells' 1914 tale of a world first ultra-modernized by atomic power, then mostly destroyed by it, then remade into a fabulous utopia with one language, one common government, and apparently no societal problems is on the one hand eerily prescient and on the other a bit laughably unbelievable. It's completely astonishing how Wells predicted nuclear war, but the utopia he describes is just cartoonish in its simplicity and lacks any details that would help me believe it could really come to pass. He ...more
Jonathan Concha
The story depicts a grim and disturbing post apocalyptic society triggered by Nuclear War in which the collective ideology supersedes individualism. A global and boundless society structured on social contracts.

It encompasses many of Marx's ideologies including,

- labor armies
- social ownership of production, land, transportation, and communication
- indoctrination through education

It seemed to be a fictional adaptation of the Communist Manifesto, though its society is triggered by Nuclear War ra
Jul 23, 2016 jjonas rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, utopia
A childish make-believe description of the future with a poor attempt at a story thrown there in between.

After a devastating war with atomic weapons, the leaders of the world (kings and whatnot) come together and realise that what is needed is a World Government, to get rid of all that national bickering and other miserable stuff. After this realisation, it's so much joy ever after, everything just falls into place because 1) ordinary people too have been shaken by the atomic war, and 2) they al
Chaz Van Heyden
Jun 20, 2016 Chaz Van Heyden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Although his stilted language style irked me as I read, it is to be expected from a nineteenth century educated author. Wells’ predictions of Mankind’s progress in the 20th century and beyond are if nothing else accurate and therefore all the more amazing since The World Set Free was finished in 1912. No one before him expounded in such detail and so deftly. He wraps these forecasts in an interesting tale. The professional narration by Eric Jones is well worth the 1.99 and contributes to the Bri
Jun 04, 2007 Shannon rated it really liked it
One of Wells lesser known works this is worth the read for those who enjoy the socio-political commentary of one of the worlds great writers. It's in the public domain for those who are interested...good stuff!
Feb 24, 2008 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Remarkable sci-fi by H.G. Wells written in 1914 in which he imagines what will happen when the world obtains nuclear energy. Biplanes dropping A-bombs, for example.
Peter Macinnis
Well, what can you say about a book, published in 1913, which predicted the atomic bomb? OK, he had it being used on Berlin in 1956, but not bad, not bad ata all.
Lane Willson
Like many folks I THOUGHT I was familiar with H.G. Wells, only to realize that what I was familiar with was Disney and Hollywood's familiarity with H.G. Wells. I had never even heard of The World Set Free until I picked it up. Early on I had to double check to see if I was reading fiction or not. Wells' ability to accurately peer into the future is eery. But at other times, his place in the space/time continuum is clearly visible. Pilots of biplanes carry atomic bombs in the cockpit, and toss to ...more
Willa Grant
Aug 26, 2009 Willa Grant rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such an amazing author! How did H.G. Wells know the things he knew? This story was horrifying & amazing & I really loved it.
Bill Wehrmacher
Jun 07, 2016 Bill Wehrmacher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book because somewhere along the way I heard that it spoke about atomic war written in 1913, published in 1914, a time during which everyone was denying the possibility war. Like so much of Wells' writing it is terribly prophetic. Imagine, considering the impact of atomic war 30 years before it actually became a reality.

The atomic bombs in The World Set Free were vastly different than those unleashed on Japan, but I believe they were much more devastating; a point open for disc
Jun 24, 2015 Kevin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Matthew Bowden
Feb 09, 2015 Matthew Bowden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
In this book, Wells uses atomic energy (barely even a concept in 1913, when it was written) as a window through which to describe his utopia. He expounds upon such topics as nationalism, authority, governments, and feminism/sexism. He takes an odd tactic, telling the story of a world from completely different perspectives each chapter. The book feels like a long series of opinions on aspects of society and where they would be in a utopia. The book ended rather abruptly, but left me satisfied. I ...more
Jan 27, 2015 Wayne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
H. G. Wells' work is a rare pleasure for me. I have read most of his work over my lifetime, though occasionally I come across something I was not aware of. This is such a book. While I can't say I loved it (unfortunately I felt the narrator sapped energy from the reading IMHO), I enjoyed it thoroughly. Alternate history is an intriguing genre, though its more interesting when projecting forward, as I am sure Wells felt when writing this. While he's no prophet, and I had no allusions to such, Wel ...more
Mike Wigal
Written in 1913 Wells predicted the use of atomic bombs. That in and of itself is highly remarkable. Like the scientists who actually did create the bomb in the Manhattan Project he underestimated the power of the thing, although in a different way he gave a good approximation. And he had them being dropped on Berlin in 1956, which as it turns out was close enough to actual events. Yet he hadn't moved aircraft beyond cloth biplanes by the 1980s. Still I would give him credit for the first post-n ...more
Gregg Wingo
Dec 19, 2014 Gregg Wingo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Published as both "The Last War" and "The World Set Free" this work of Wells is often lauded as his great predictor of the atomic bomb and nuclear warfare. But it is something far more important, it is his "Republic" and his version of Plato's dialogues.

In "The World Set Free" he updates Plato's thoughts on the perfectly ordered society founded on not Classical but Modernist principles. His "invention" of the atomic bomb is merely a MacGuffin that he utilizes to create the basis for a Utopian r
Mike Ogilvie
Nov 28, 2012 Mike Ogilvie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-fiction
I was particularly intrigued by this book because of the subject matter, and because for a book written by such a famous author, H.G. Wells, I had never heard of it.

Written right before World War I in 1913, it primarily focuses on humans' folly for war and self destruction. It predicts a future in which a terrible new type of weapon has been developed based on the nuclear forces in material. Most often this book is said to have foretold the creation of nuclear weapons - which is mostly true. I c
Mar 04, 2015 Denis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: softcover
I picked this out of my library to read as 2014 is the centennial of this novel’s publication.

It is by no means considered an H.G. Wells classic such as “The Time Machine”, “The Invisible Man”, “The Island of Dr. Moreau”, “War of the Worlds” and so on. (I believe that it wasn’t reprinted in paper until the seventies – please correct me if I’m wrong).

My first impression was that, at times, it reads like a collection of shorter works linked chronologically by a narrative of what seemed to be deco
I listened to the audio recording on as I walked/jogged on weekdays at 5:30 in the morning. In the interest of full disclosure, I did tune out from time to time. I did not find The World Set Free to be a page turner.

Basically, man discovers nuclear power, then a nuclear war breaks out and finally, a new world order is set up and the world is a much better place.

This book seems to be largely remembered as a prediction of nuclear power and nuclear war, but it also addresses social issu
Barry Haworth
I've read this book just once before. Written before the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914, it is perhaps the first science fiction novel to realistically describe nuclear war. Not bad for thirty years before the Manhattan Project.

This book makes for an interesting read. On the one hand you have the nuclear technology. Wells imagines nuclear power as coming about through artificially triggered radioactivity. Radioactive decay is induced in a heavy metal and power produced. The device needed is sma
Dec 25, 2012 Akrabar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Leonard Armstrong
Ugh. This book did not hold my interest at all. It is not a story so much as a series of predictive descriptions... many of which have come to pass in one form or another. I purchased this as an audiobook and the lack of compelling story paired with a reader with a soft, sweet English voice that want to put me to sleep led my mind to wander more than pay attention. I'm not really sure I could tell another person the story of this book my mind wandered so much. To each his/her own. Caveat emptor.
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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
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“He blinked at the sun and dreamt that perhaps he might snare it and spare it as it went down to its resting place amidst the distant hills.” 6 likes
“How often things must have been seen and dismissed as unimportant, before the speculative eye and the moment of vision came! It was Gilbert, Queen Elizabeth's court physician, who first puzzled his brains with rubbed amber and bits of glass and silk and shellac, and so began the quickening of the human mind to the existence of this universal presence. And even then the science of electricity remained a mere little group of curious facts for nearly two hundred years, connected perhaps with magnetism—a mere guess that—perhaps with the lightning. Frogs' legs must have hung by copper hooks from iron railings and twitched upon countless occasions before Galvani saw them. Except for the lightning conductor, it was 250 years after Gilbert before electricity stepped out of the cabinet of scientific curiosities into the life of the common man… . Then suddenly, in the half-century between 1880 and 1930, it ousted the steam-engine and took over traction, it ousted every other form of household heating, abolished distance with the perfected wireless telephone and the telephotograph… .” 2 likes
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