The English writer Herbert George Wells is often called – alongside Jules Verne (1828-1905) and Hugo Gernsback (1884-1967) – the “Father of Science Fiction”. The origins of Science Fiction actually predate all of these men: Mary Shelley (1797-1851) first published Frankenstein anonymously in 1818, and even earlier, Cyrano de Bergerac (1619-1655) wrote about rocket-powered space travel in L’Autre monde ou les états et empires de la Lune (published posthumously in 1657).
Although I also read and enjoyed English translations of Verne’s novels as a boy – especially Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864) and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1869) – it was rather the novels of H.G. Wells that I read and reread when I was beginning to explore Science Fiction.
Wells’ novels explored themes that I continue to find enthralling, and that many others writers continue to explore, including time and space travel, and the impact of science and technology on individuals and society. When I was a boy my parents gave me a boxed set of novels by Wells that I loved. It included:
- The Time Machine (1895)
- The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896)
- The Invisible Man (1897)
- The War of the Worlds (1898)
- The First Men in the Moon (1901)
- The Food of the Gods and How it Came to Earth (1904)
The themes of these novels, taken together, lay out for consideration many of the themes explored by the books on this list. Wells was a visionary.
My Top 21 Science Fiction Novels of All Time: