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When the Sleeper Wakes

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3.42  ·  Rating details ·  3,845 ratings  ·  329 reviews
Graham, an 1890s radical pamphleteer who is eagerly awaiting the twentieth century and all the advances it will bring, is stricken with insomnia. Finally resorting to medication, he instantly falls into a deep sleep that lasts two hundred years. Upon waking in the twenty-second century to a strange and nightmarish place, he slowly discovers he is master of the world, rever ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 14th 2003 by Modern Library (first published 1899)
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David Sarkies
Jul 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Wells' Dystopian Vision
13 July 2016

When I started reading Jules Verne a number of years back I became increasingly interested in some of these pioneers of the science-fiction genre, and while many of us have heard of Wells' more well known books, after digging around the internet I discovered that there were quite a few other books that he had written that I was particularly interested in, especially the ones where he writes about the possibility of flight and how disruptive a technology it wou
...more
MJ Nicholls
H.G. wrote this novel at warp speed nine, as evidenced by the bluntest ending ever written and presented in a Penguin Classic. His dystopian vision here, however, is one of the most influential in SF and beyond. Needless, we’d have no 1984 if it wasn’t for this patchy, overtly racist, but workmanlike tale. Respect to Herb.
Herman Gigglethorpe
This is probably my least favorite Wells book.

The writing is rather dull. A lot of it seems to be exposition dumps, and the action sequences often involve the main character being told about it after the fact. Harry Turtledove-style repetition also drags the book down. Yes, we know that Graham is the Sleeper and the owner of half the world already!

Much of the society and its technology also sounds dated today. This issue was mostly avoided in Wells's other books, which were either set in his p
...more
John
Jul 02, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christopher (Donut)
I read this book because of Orwell's discussion of it in The Road to Wigan Pier.
That Orwell called it The Sleeper Awakes and not When the Sleeper Wakes may be why I sought out the rarer version (on manybooks)- There is a preface in which Wells virtually disclaims the book. He saw its flaws, but was in no frame of mind to re-work it except for the romance between the sleeper and a 23rd-Century girl.

The real problem is the exposition. There is all kinds of hustle bustle, not very clearly depicted
...more
Petra
Mar 02, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
H.G. Well's look at the future is interesting, as we are the future he tries to image.
Graham wakes from a deep sleep 200 years in the future, in the 2090's; not far from where we are today. He finds himself the King of the World, due to a combination of his money, inheritances from rich relatives & friends and 200-years worth of compound interest. In a sense, he's become almost a Messiah-like figure to the people of the future, with them filing by his sleeping body. Those who rule his Fortune a
...more
Leothefox
Jan 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Shelves: favorites
It's odd to say that I'd wanted to read this book for almost twenty years and in surprising ways it did not disappoint. Wells,pioneer of science fiction that he was, pulled out all the stops here. There's action, warfare, loads of colorful future stuff, betrayal, romance, and politics.

The plot concerns a 19th century insomniac named Graham who ends up sleeping for 200 years only to wake and discover he owns half the world. He's a fish out of water and he's odd circumsatnces result in people tr
...more
Jinx:The:Poet {the Literary Masochist, Ink Ninja & Word Roamer}
"So long as there are sheep Nature will insist on beasts of prey.”

The Sleeper Awakes (1910) is a dystopian, science fiction novel by H.G. Wells. It is about a man, named Graham, who is an insomniac living in London, in the year 1897, and decides to take drugs to cure his worsening insomnia but ends up falling into a deep coma. He then sleeps for two hundred and three years, waking up in a completely transformed London, in the year 2100, where he has become the richest man in the world after inhe
...more
Alex Storer
Aug 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'm a big fan of that old dystopian vision of the future; the hierarchical, sterile society, the vast future cityscapes and all manner of things envisioned by a plethora of authors such as Arthur C Clarke, Aldus Huxley, Philip K Dick and of course HG Wells.

The Sleeper Awakes tells the story of an ordinary man called Graham, propelled into the most extraordinary circumstance, after falling into a 203-year sleep-like trance in late 19th Century Cornwall.

Having been a public wonder, often “on di
...more
Gregg Wingo
Apr 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Over the last few years publishers have been dragging public domain works off the shelves, blowing the dust off classics, and selling them to travelers on the cheap. H. G. Wells, the father of English Science Fiction, has not been left out. This work is clearly - like all good SF - a critique of the author's society. Wells was like Verne firmly rooted in extrapolation of science or what would one day be called hard science fiction but they were also focused on it effects on society and the natur ...more
Nesa
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
H.G. Wells is so smart that it scares me.
Michael Battaglia
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A man falls asleep, outlives all his annoying neighbors in the process and wakes up in a future filled with amazing technology where life is blissfully easy. Oh, and now he owns the whole world. How is this book not titled "The Best Day Ever"?

As it turns out, Wells had other concerns on his mind. The basic idea here isn't that far removed from the old tale of Rip Van Winkle, where a man displaced in time lets his experiences be extended into metaphor for the differences between those different t
...more
Julian Meynell
This is a lesser known work of Wells and not taken as seriously as some of his more well known works. Having read enough Wells, I was not surprised to see that it was considerably better than it is supposed to be. The book belongs to Wells' great period from 1894 to 1901, when Wells managed to anticipate virtually the whole of future science fiction in novels of genius. This work despite its reputation deserves to be in that league, and for instance, is better than the Invisible man.

This book is
...more
Ivan
May 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of his best - riveting from start to finish.

Of all his prophesies, the most damning is that society remains largely unaltered. For all of man’s technological advances, we still suffer under an ever widening gulf of financial disparity; are the slaves of the Labor Company any different than political prisoners in China making our athletic shoes, or the migrant farm workers in the USA?! It’s a horrible blot on civilization (syphilisation?) that the filthy rich have unfettered influence in Wash
...more
Kristy Buzbee
Nov 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Wells is hit-or-miss with me. I'm an avid sci-fi fan so I certainly can't just pass him by, but he's not always a smashing success to me. I really like War of the Worlds, but The Invisible Man and The Time Machine were both pretty lackluster. The plot of The Sleeper Awakes caught my interest, so I bought it - the Penguin Classics edition, which I recommend for anyone reading Wells. The Penguin Classics editions of his work has footnotes for all the weird words and references he uses that modern ...more
Dfordoom
Sep 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
The Sleeper Awakes is one of H. G. Wells’ lesser known science fiction novels, and a rather odd dystopian tale.

In 1897 a man named Graham is having trouble sleeping. When he finally does fall asleep it’s for a very long time indeed. 203 years, in fact. When he awakes he discovers that his long sleep has made him a figure of vast importance.

It’s not just that his own not inconsiderable personal fortune has grown like Topsy. He has been left as heir to the fortune, the very very large fortune, of
...more
Allison
This was a fairly exciting and inventive portrait of a future dystopian society brought down by the violent, horrifying racism that permeates the final stretch of the book. While reading the first part, I was impressed by how Wells conveys the joy of flying, and laughed out loud at the phonetic spellings he feared the advent of technologies would cause. (Apparently, no one could predict emojis.) When I got to the ideas spouted about racial segregation and violence in the last part of this book, ...more
Brian Bess
Jun 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
What happens when you oversleep by 200 years

H.G. Wells’ ‘When the Sleeper Wakes’ is one of his ‘scientific romances’ (he hated the American term ‘science fiction’) that I first read when I was fourteen. When I was first reading Wells, a friend recommended this novel that I had never heard of and gave me his Ace paperback copy of it (with a cover price of .40). While I liked the concept quite a bit, I found the writing a bit turgid and, at that age, could not understand how a man, simply by sleep
...more
Colleen Earle
Not my favourite Wells.
I love how he envisions the future. I too hope that in 100 years all the roads are big people movers that move faster than trains in the 1890’s.
Also really cool to see what he thought a dog fight would look like before the invented the aeroplane.
Wild stuff.
I think where this book fell flat for me is that the mc didn’t have much personality, unlike in The Time Machine or War of the Worlds.
Alas.
Cărăşălu
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
Disappointing. The premise is promising: an Englishman falls asleep and wakes up 200 years later to find out he owns half the world in an oligarchic society. But the writing, the pacing, the ending don't live up to the potential of this premise. However, this edition had a very good foreword by Orson Scott Card, which explains why Wells became the grandaddy of modern sci-fi and also prepares the modern reader for what lies ahead in the book. I really recommend reading the introduction.
Nicholas Whyte
https://nwhyte.livejournal.com/3402306.html

I had read this as an undergraduate, but it was interesting to return to it in the light of Woody Allen and also Adam Roberts, whose work on Wells was nominated for the BSFA Award this year and two years ago. As with Sleeper, Wells' protagonist wakes after 200 years to find himself embroiled in a revolutionary conspiracy to overthrow the dictatorial system which has grown up in the meantime. In Wells' novel, Graham the Sleeper, discovers that due to com
...more
Lostaccount
Oct 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lostaccount by: 136
Shelves: dystopia, brilliance
“Wealth now is the power as it never was before – it commands the earth, the sea and sky”

Graham from Victorian England wakes up from an unspecified coma to a future London when the city is in revolt against a plutocracy called The Council (Graham’s Trustees) which has enslaved the working, lower classes by errrm "putting them to work". As the richest man in the world because of financial investment while he “slept” for two hundred years, he is now owner and master of the world, because in this f
...more
Vincent Noble
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel carries the distinction of having my most favourite beginning, and one of my favourite endings. Starting with "I can't sleep" to "countless dreams have ended".

Everything between is a version of Rip Van Winkle times ten, ( only it's not ten, it's a gross). It gets a bit predictable. Like, you know exactly what is going to happen. But there is a poetic kind of an awakening after the awakening, something you might not have expected.

I must have liked it because I took the time to post a r
...more
Beth
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! I loved The Sleeper Awakes, and it's a new favorite. What a masterful job H.G. Wells did of creating a detailed, fascinating world 200 years in the future — which would be about 80 years from now.

I developed a strong Monty Python connection with the book because, having just finished Eric Idle's highly entertaining Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, the "sleeper" character, Graham, immediately evoked Graham Chapman, and he stayed with me until the end. Then there was Graham's Christ-li
...more
Jake Wells
Jan 18, 2019 rated it liked it
A promising storyline, 'Black Mirror' esc dystopia, that pushes the ideology of excessive Private Sector and Capitalism to the extreme. Accurately predicts the importance of technological advancements in TV, advertisments and aeronautics, but holds onto some 19th Century biases of equality despite claiming the liberation of people. Jarring repetition of words, painful comic-book style sounds and often beating around the bush conversations that attempt to draw intruige. I had high hopes but it's ...more
Janelle
Mar 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
This is an interesting and obviously influential Wells novel. Basically a Victorian guy goes into a comatose state and sleeps for 203 years. His friends have invested his money and when he wakes he owns half the world. There are some great ideas in here, my favourite the “babble machines” , his vision of future cities and labour etc. I mostly enjoyed the writing but why I ended up giving it only 3 stars was the overt racism which I found quite shocking.
Shawn Birss
The Sleeper Awakes by H.G. Wells is competently written book when it comes to wordcraft, and the ability to keep a person reading. I was engaged from beginning to end, invested, and entertained.

This is not my first experience with Wells. The Invisible Man is one of my favourite books from when I read it nearly twenty years ago. The Time Machine is also a favourite of mine, read at around the same time.

In The Sleeper Awakes, Wells treads similar territory to The Time Machine. In this lesser kno
...more
Jeff Reno
Sep 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If written today, this would be a two or three star story, but being published in 1899, I gave it four stars for Well's insights into the future.
Terese
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not his best. The general idea is really cool but the execution is not great.
The premise of the reader being in Graham's shoes, being just as clueless as he is, is a neat idea but it's also frustrating and makes the text bogged down and dull. The dullness might be part of the exposition which is often quite stiff and lackluster.

Wells did foresee internet spelling though "Thi Man huwdbi Kin" (the man who would be king) ;) and the whole decline of democracy and evolution of new tyranny where "Onl
...more
Wild
May 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
H.G. Wells wrote this first as a magazine serialization between 1898 and 1899, followed as a re-edited novel in 1910. It is a fascinating dystopian view of London 203 years into the future. The main character, Graham, is accidentally placed into a coma after being treated for insomnia. The result is NOT your typical Rip Van Winkle story!
Upon awakening from that LONG sleep, Graham discovers that his financial estate had accrued so much wealth from compounded interest and investments made by his a
...more
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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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