Blurb: In the Days of the Comet (1906) is a science fiction novel by H. G. Wells in which humanity is “exalted” when a comet causes “the nitrogen of the air, the old azote,” to “change out of itself” and become “a respirable gas, differing indeed from oxygen, but helping and sustaining its action, a bath of strength and healing for nerve and brain.” The result: “The great Change has come for evermore, happiness and beauty are our atmosphere, there is peace on earth and good will to all men.”
I was thinking of revenge—revenge against the primary conditions of my being. I was thinking of Nettie and her lover. I was firmly resolved he should not have her—though I had to kill them both to prevent it. I did not care what else might happen, if only that end was ensured.
Then begins a clatter roar of machinery catching the infection, going faster and faster, and whizzing and banging,—engineers, who have never had time to wash since their birth, flying about with oil-cans, while paper runs off its rolls with a shudder of haste. The proprietor you must suppose arriving explosively on a swift motor-car, leaping out before the thing is at a standstill, with letters and documents clutched in his hand, rushing in, resolute to “hustle,” getting wonderfully in everybody’s way. At the sight of him even the messenger boys who are waiting, get up and scamper to and fro. Sprinkle your vision with collisions, curses, incoherencies. You imagine all the parts of this complex lunatic machine working hysterically toward a crescendo of haste and excitement as the night wears on. At last the only things that seem to travel slowly in all those tearing vibrating premises are the hands of the clock.
We knew before the Change, the meanest knew, by glowing moments in ourselves and others, by histories and music and beautiful things, by heroic instances and splendid stories, how fine mankind could be, how fine almost any human being could upon occasion be; but the poison in the air, its poverty in all the nobler elements which made such moments rare and remarkable—all that has changed. The air was changed, and the Spirit of Man that had drowsed and slumbered and dreamt dull and evil things, awakened, and stood with wonder-clean eyes, refreshed, looking again on life.
This book took me over two months to read! It’s over 100 years old so the verbage was a bit difficult to translate. My mind just turned to mush after too long. This author describes EVERYTHING. Like pages and pages of one single element/scene/idea. It was enough to make me want to skim. I didn’t, but I wanted to. And the sentences were so long I had to stop and take a breath just to finish them! It kept kicking me out of the story when that happened, which was a lot.
This story was incredibly slow. About a quarter of the way through it I realized it had a love story in it! And that was the best part of the novel TBH. The MC was…quite frankly, crazy. Like certifiable. I kept comparing his actions being replicated in present times and if he behaved now as he had then, he wold have been locked up. He was incredibly proud, stubborn, entitled, egotistical, impulsive, vain and self-absorbed.
But I enjoyed the journey of his evolving character. Once the comet changed everyone the story progressed pretty quickly. Sidenote: The comet ‘changing’ everyone is a bit confusing because at the end there is a character who seems to not know what this guy is talking about. (Leading me to believe the MC was in fact insane)
And I LOVED the ending to the love story. It was so unexpected you guys! It just made me think about how much more accepting this ending would be viewed in present as opposed to then. It would have been a great scandal then, but now… not so much.
Glad I read it, don’t know if I would read his other works though. Stylistically, it’s not my bag.