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A Modern Utopia

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3.45  ·  Rating details ·  818 ratings  ·  66 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
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Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 31st 2006 by Penguin Books Limited (first published 1905)
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John Verin Two men end up in a Modern Utopia and explore it, our point of view is one of those men's point of view. When it comes to the kind of bias that is pro…moreTwo men end up in a Modern Utopia and explore it, our point of view is one of those men's point of view. When it comes to the kind of bias that is projected, that is for you to judge and consider, I believe.
Basically, it is a narrative of their experience exploring this Utopia, full of references to other Utopias, nevertheless, improving them on an academic level.(less)

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MJ Nicholls
Prophetic and horrific, this utopian vision is a warped mixture of samurai castes, mass extinction of inferior races, and totalitarian World States, outlined in a series of turgid intellectual meanderings.
Margaret
Sep 20, 2014 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
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Shel
Jun 10, 2010 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
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Tomislav
This is a somewhat muddled fusion of two types of writing at the same time. On the one hand, it is an exposition of a utopian vision for humanity. On the other hand, it is the adventure of “The Voice” (who is explicitly introduced as not Wells, but seems to be a lot like Wells), as he visits an alternate version of contemporary Earth (1905). The narrator is not transported mysteriously to the utopian world, but rather begins by reasoning what a utopia would have to be like following modern princ ...more
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
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Katherine (Kat) Nagel
Updated 2015-01-07
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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.
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Alec
Feb 11, 2016 rated it liked it
This idea of a utopia had some good aspects, but others involved very dated ways of thinking that most defiantly wouldn't work today.
Some good points were everyone getting a liveable minimum wage and help if they didn't have a job etc. Although if that applied to you, you were discouraged from marriage and having children (possibly forbidden I can't remember). Everyone cycled everywhere or went on really cool sounding trains. Plus people had the freedom to live anywhere in the world easily. The
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James
May 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading a couple of chapters, I realised that I have already read this book. What stands out for me regarding this book is, at the time, like now, so many writers and readers alike were/ are fascinated by a “Dystopian Future” the futuristic thought that the world will come to an end in doom and gloom. Amongst these thoughts are that the world must either come to an end violently in splintered city groups, zombies or technology, seeing the fall of civilisation in a melting pot of depravity. ...more
Susan
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
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Thomas Edmund
Jun 02, 2013 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
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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.
Florbert M
Utopia and philosophy

3 rating is like a neutral rating. This is a difficult book to get through but it might be of great use to students in social science and philosophy to understand the strength and weakness of some of the theories. One needs to be familiar with names like plato, aristotle, th more, Aquinas, comte, rousseau, marx.. Questions about social order, women place, political practice, religion (despite its contribution to equality) and culture problems are discussed but not solved, le
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Terence
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Re-Read recently. First published 1905 I cannot decide if Mr Wells is 100% serious in his suggestions for a modern utopia or if he is highlighting social issues in Victorian England. (By 1905 more accurately Edwardian.)
The novel/thought experiment has passages of pure gold. As ever, with Mr Wells, beautifully written, thought provoking with depth. Not one of his better known, not a conventional novel, but the scene where the protagonist meets his utopian self, 200 words of pure bliss. (How woul
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Doug
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars
As unrealistic & undesirable as Plato's Republic imo. But worth reading to get a sense of the ideas & predictions. For example, he predicts more modernized cars & public transportation systems. The Appendix in the version I read is even more convoluted and yet more interesting that the actual story.
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Argi
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Clearly some things are dated and obviously the products of his time, but I do think he was still a bit ahead of his time. Some of his ideas merit thinking about. Also, the way the story and idea are presented is quite unique.
Christine Mary
Apr 22, 2020 rated it did not like it
Hard going. nearly didn't finish it.
Diana Lillig
May 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Not the most entertaining utopia ever...but still full of interest if you compare the alien society to Wells's and to the 21th century.
David
May 07, 2012 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
...more
Julesmarie
Apr 25, 2012 rated it liked it
I just recently read More's Utopia, and my biggest take-away was what that book would have looked like if written by a different person or in a different time. And here's at least part of an answer!

I had two favorite things about this:
1. Wells does basically a survey of every utopian story ever written from Plato onwards and discusses their successes and failures, as well as how and why his own builds on them or departs from them.
2. That he created characters to walk us through his Utopia and re
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Ushan
Nov 24, 2011 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
Jenny
Feb 27, 2015 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
Colleen
Jul 10, 2011 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,
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Hala Alzaghal
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Well, Mr. Wells, this is a book worth the time spent. Because I read it right after 'first men in the moon' I thought it would be a failure just the same, but I was really wrong. It was intriguing, magnificent, and just what this world needs. And I liked it more because he was not like other writers, his Utopia was not far from reach, a place we could only imagine to be. It was more of a list of things to work on and 'fix' in our present world. It is sad to know that from the time he wrote it un ...more
Paul
Mar 21, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
H.G Wells wrote many tales of adventure and exploration, which were fascinating to early twentieth century readers as transportation to faraway lands was so difficult back then. The story begins with speculation of the author’s present expectations rather than a journey of discovery, as if the author preventing the reader from drawing their own conclusions. Wells does lose his reader in this manner as he tries to make comparisons and draw conclusions too early in the novel. However, the establis ...more
Anna Kristina
Sep 30, 2009 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
Andrew
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 much...no 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
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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'
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Ian Caithness
Jun 30, 2010 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
Eero Saikku
Dec 01, 2015 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
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Daniel Wood
Nov 25, 2014 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
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Herbert George 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 scholarship in 1884, ...more

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