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The Diamond Maker
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Short Stories > The Diamond Maker by H.G. Wells

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message 1: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4026 comments Mod
I'd like to get the group reading more short stories since they're one of the foundations of SF. I thought we could read one, discuss it, & recommend another in an informal way. Make sure the story is freely available from a legal site online.

I thought we could start with The Diamond Maker (1894) by H.G. Wells. It presents an interesting issue that is still topical. It's available for free atFree E-books here:
https://free-ebooks.com/ebooks/the-di...
or as part of The Stolen Bacillus and Other Incidents which is available from Gutenberg.org in several formats here:
"http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/12750

In audio format, it is available as part of Short Science Fiction Collection vol. 057 & can be listened to singly or downloaded as part of the collection here:
https://librivox.org/short-science-fi...

You can also to it as a 16m44s YouTube video (Just a static picture of a diamond) here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjhLX...


message 2: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 768 comments Thank you for sharing this interesting story. I thought the ending will be more sinister - maybe the times affected my attitude. If you meet another literary gem of old, please share.


message 3: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4026 comments Mod
You're welcome. It doesn't end the way I expected, either. Probably more likely an end. I found the idea intriguing. I hadn't realized that there were successful experiments so far back. The Wikipedia article mentions them & has a link.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dia...

I thought of starting off the new year & the short stories with Micromegas by Voltaire, but thought this was better. True SF, not so fantastic, & it has one of the staple elements - the garage inventor.


message 4: by Sergio (last edited Jan 03, 2018 10:00AM) (new)

Sergio Flores (sftowersauthor) | 1 comments Well, it's really short. Not entirely sure what was Mr Wells trying to accomplish in the telling of the story. Perhaps in the time it was written, the idea of randomly stumbling upon a way of obtaining diamonds sounded really attractive. today, I can think of a million reasons why is not worth it, starting with how are you going to sell them and so on and so forth. Also the language is really difficult for today's standards. Interesting, still.

Anyway, can I nominate my own short story work? I can make it freely available on Amazon at a certain date so that the group can read it. It's about a near future where Artificial Intelligence is conscious and some of them want to be free of human interference...

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...

Cheers,
Sergio


message 5: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4026 comments Mod
I thought he was going for the twist of a discovery of something too good to be believed. It was a disheartening reminder that mere discovery isn't enough. Edison & Tesla proved that.

Sergio wrote: "Anyway, can I nominate my own short story work? I can make it freely available on Amazon at a certain date so that the group can read it...."

I appreciate the offer, but I'm going to decline on 2 counts.

First, the short stories I am trying to promote for the group read should be free, no strings attached or expiration date beyond the vagaries of the net.

Second, it sets a bad precedent. We want to keep self- promotion firmly in the proper folder. There are a lot of spamming authors on GR. I call them pigeon authors since they tend to fly through groups, spew their waste, & disappear. I'd rather not attract them or give them leeway to argue.

Feel free to create a topic for your short story in the "Authors/Self Promotion" folder & let us know about it, though.


Buck (spectru) | 895 comments I read The diamond Maker a couple of days ago. Well actually I heard an audio version. And then I forgot to comment about it.

I think the guy went about it all wrong. He botched it. If he could do it once, he could do it again - and this time with corroboration. So, the narrator never saw him again and neither did anybody else. He blew it.


message 7: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4026 comments Mod
All true, but a very literal take on it & I don't think that was what he had in mind. From what I've been reading, Wells was quite the social reformer, a member of the Fabian Society, & thought the class division in England at the time was an insurmountable barrier for the working class that was growing wider. This was the evolution that took place resulting in the Eloi & Morlocks in The Time Machine. In this case, we have a brilliant man who, even with his invention, could still only be a beggar who disappears with only a vague regret & that was a selfish one.


Rosemarie | 444 comments I just finished reading the story and for some reason I was reminded of The Invisible Man. In both cases the scientist/inventor isolates himself from the rest of society.
The Diamond Maker may not have had such a sad end as the invisible man, but he had a miserable life.
He could have done something more productive with his inheritance, but he became obsesses with making diamonds. As he said, he spent money on coals instead of food when he was starving.
I don't know if Wells had a specific point in mind when writing the story, but it does make you think about the dangers of obsessive behaviour.


message 9: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4026 comments Mod
Science alienating a person from society?


Rosemarie | 444 comments Could be. It depends upon the type of scientist, perhaps.


message 11: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4026 comments Mod
The science obsessed alienating themselves from society is a familiar theme in SF from Victor Frankenstein on.


message 12: by RJ - Slayer of Trolls (last edited Jan 13, 2018 08:54AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 629 comments I thought this was one of Wells' better stories and it succeeds largely because it's short and to the point. I am not a big fan of Wells' writing, although I acknowledge his undeniable contributions to the genre. Wells' prose is often clunky and, let's face it, boring - take for example the introductory paragraph to this story which probably could have been left out completely. The idea of an alchemical formula that can't be repeated but would provide untold riches seems to have been a favorite cliche of the early 20th century.


message 13: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4026 comments Mod
One reason I picked this story is that I thought it was the most readable of all Wells' stories I've read to date exactly for the reasons you pointed out, Randy. I've never cared much for it myself. Apparently he & Henry James were considered the two best writers of the English language in their time. I forget who made that assertion, Wolfe or Rabkin, but I find it hard to swallow.

James concentrated on the psychology of the character while Wells concentrated on the setting to make their points. I was completely soured on James after being forced to read The Turn of the Screw in school. Only my love of SF & the short length of most of Wells' stories got me through so many of his plus, he had really interesting ideas. I've always hoped that I'd 'get it' or get into them the way Shakespeare opened up after I'd read a few plays together. They have, a little. Audiobook format has helped.


message 14: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 1867 comments Mod
I think this story is the only thing by Wells that I've read, so I'm glad to be filling in a gap in my education.

Not much to say about it except that the main character didn't really think his plan through very well, since he didn't figure out how he'd be able to sell his product.

He was worried that if people found out that it is possible to make diamonds artificially, then the price would collapse. But in the real world, that isn't true. We can now make perfect artificial diamonds, but people still consider real, imperfect, ones to be more valuable. People are weird.

What would really depress the value of diamonds is if the De Beers company stopped hoarding.

There was an interesting episode of Nova about this issue a while back (maybe 10 years).


message 15: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 1867 comments Mod
After reading this I decided to try another Wells story. I was intrigued by the title "Jimmy Goggles the God" so I read it. That was a poor choice. Some unfortunate racial stereotypes and considerable use of the N word. But at least I now know that "Goggles" was not being used as a verb, but as a nickname for Jimmy.


message 16: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) Yeah, I think the guy wasn't a scientist in the sense of having a curiosity about how the world works. He was more like an engineer, or maybe even like Ponce de León in the popular sense of obsessively questing for something not meant for mere mortals.

And certainly there's the other theme, of people not believing him, of him not being able to come up with a scheme to actually benefit from the diamonds. If he'd already been rich, it would have been easy for him to become richer, instead of being accused of being a criminal. Note how the tattle-tale was proud that the cops talked to him 'as if he were a gentlemen.'

Another story that talks about what to do when one has access to untold diamonds is The Twenty-One Balloons. It's for children, but it's great fun, and could def. be called SF, or even more easily 'speculative fiction.


message 17: by Suki (last edited Jan 22, 2018 04:58PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 27 comments I found this story very interesting, but for me the best part was the opening paragraph, which, as Randy posted above, really has nothing to do with the story. The scene was described so perfectly, I felt that I was leaning on the parapet beside the narrator, while the inventor came up on his other side.

Although I really enjoyed the story, it felt very uneven, and it also felt like a fragment of something larger. So much care and attention was lavished on the opening of the story, making sure that the scene was set perfectly, while the rest of the story lacked that color and detail. When I reached the end I felt that there should be more to the story.

In Wells' time, the thought of synthesizing diamonds must have seemed fantastic. Now, it is a reality, and there are even companies that will grow a diamond for you from the carbon in the cremains of your loved one. There was mention in some scientific journals a while back of using diamond in computers; it was felt that the crystal lattice structure of the diamond would make processing nearly instantaneous. (I don't know if it was ever developed.)


message 18: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4026 comments Mod
Suki wrote: ...There was mention in some scientific journals a while back of using diamond in computers; it was felt that the crystal lattice structure of the diamond would make processing nearly instantaneous. (I don't know if it was ever developed.) "

I must have missed that. How cool! Does anyone else remember Zardoz? 70s camp with Sean Connery running around in a loin cloth playing a barbarian. In that, the computer was a diamond.


message 19: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 1867 comments Mod
How could anyone forget Zardoz? Sean Connery's outfit is ridiculous. But I really enjoyed that film.

Anyway, after reading this short Wells story, I decided it was time for me to acquaint myself with some more of his work. So I read "Jimmy Goggles the God" (too dated to be enjoyable) and "The Inexperienced Ghost" which I quite enjoyed. One might think a ghost story wouldn't be SF, but I think that at that time many rational people considered seances and mediums and ghosts to possibly have scientific grounding. And the guy telling the story within the story experiments with traveling to the land of the ghosts by using special hand gestures. (Very similar to the Netflix series "The OA".) I found it to be a nice and funny story.

I also went ahead and read The Time Machine which is pretty short and I found to be quite readable even if you already know the basic plot.


message 20: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4026 comments Mod
I'll have to give "The Inexperienced Ghost" a try.

It's been a really long time since I read "The Time Machine". I probably should reread it now that I know more about what Wells was trying to say & have a slightly better knowledge of his day.


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