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  1. Stephen Baxter and Art-Deco Martians

    Fellow Wellsian, Stephen Baxter, was interviewed last month for Space.com about his authorised sequel to The War of the Worlds entitled: The Massacre of MankindHis interview also contains a mention of last year’s superb anniversary events in Woking and a photograph of the Martian statue (which is definitely worth seeing if you’re ever in Woking… it’s hard to miss it!). It also features a YouTube video which is a recording of a lecture that Stephen gave in 2011 entitled “From Reality to Imagination,” which is certainly worth watching.

     

    Read the article here.                         Watch the lecture here.

     

     

    Wells in Woking 2017

    Last Thursday saw the first annual Wells in Woking take place. The weather was pouring-down, but everybody was excited about seeing the street theatre which took place outside, under the covered entrance of Woking Borough Council. Bemused locals were aplenty as the audience were told to hold signs, which said things such as “The End is Nigh!”, and actors dressed as members of the public lay on the floor electrocuted by the Martians.

    There was a panel discussion in the evening, which featured two award winning members of creative audio drama and the sculptors of the Martian statue and the Wells statue. There was also a “games jam” which took place in Guildford and involved teams making a Wells-inspired video game from scratch, which was then judged by people from the industry.

     

  2. Delusion in Wells – Watch on YouTube

    Those that attended this year’s AGM in June were in for a treat as, following the formal proceedings of the AGM, fellow Wellsian Michael Sherborne gave a thoroughly interesting talk on the use of delusion in Wells's fiction with particular reference to two lesser known works: Mr Blettsworthy on Rampole Island (1928) and Christina Alberta’s Father (1925). If you missed the AGM – no problem – you can watch his talk on YouTube.  Both of these books have been recently published and Michael has written introductions for them, and are available for purchase through Amazon UK by clicking the title of the books above.

     Watch it here! (duration 22:11) 

     

    Reminder: This Year’s Conference!

    This Saturday (23 September 2017), 9 am to 6 pm

    London School of Economics and Political Science, London WC2.

                                    

    There are still a limited number of tickets avaible for the conference!

                       

    This year’s conference is entitled: H. G. Wells and Bernard Shaw: Socialism and the Irrational, and is jointly organised by the LSE Language Centre, the H. G. Wells Society, and the Shaw Society. It will be accompanied by a small display in the LSE Women’s Library on Wells, Shaw and women, including original documents from the Women’s Library collection as well as a display on Shaw, featuring documents provided by the Shaw Society. The conference will be held in LSE’s New Academic Building (on the corner of Lincoln’s Inn Fields). 

                                                                                                                            

    Time Machine Podcasts!

    A team of academics from Durham University's Department of English Studies have produced three podcasts relating to the exhibition on how stories can make us time travellers that has just recently finished its summer-long run. In the first episode, fellow Wellsian, Simon James, and Jenny Terry introduce the main themes of the exhibition. In episode two, Simon discusses the life and work of H.G. Wells, whose work inspired the exhibition. In the final episode, Sarah Lohmann and Jenny Terry discuss alternative time travel stories that are featured at the exhibition.

                                                                 

    Episode 1: An Introduction to Time Machines (duration 7:11)

    Episode 2: H.G. Wells in Focus (duration 8:40)

    Episode 3: Feminist Utopias and Afrofuturism (duration 10:20)

     

    Martian Autopsy at the University of –what is left of—Dundee

    “…Welcome to my anatomy rooms here in the University of –what is left of—Dundee […] I’m grateful to you for your help because tonight we will perform an autopsy.”

                                                                                                                

    Last year’s Being Human Festival (which is an annual festival that celebrates the Humanities) had the theme of “H.G. Wells @ 150 Hope and Fear”, and as the highlight of Dundee’s programme of events, a “Martian autopsy” was performed live by Dame Professor Sue Black, one of the UK's leading forensic scientists. It was commended  by Professor Sarah Churchwell, director of Being Human itself (based at Senate House) as the festival's 'national flagship event' for 2016.

                                                        

    The whole event was created through workshops conducted by fellow Wellsian, Keith Williams, and his colleague, Dr Daniel Cook. The Martian specimen was made by Dundee art students (supervised by design programme leader, Gary Gowans), following Wells's anatomical specifications in The War of the Worlds. It was scripted and filmed by the university’s creative writing and film staff and students, led by Eddie Small and Brian Hoyle, with additional material and improvisation by Dame Sue. 'Huxley', Dame Sue's Igor, is played by the University of Dundee’s Director of Museum Services, Matthew Jarron (channelling famous comedy stooges and the spirit of George Bond Howes).

     

    They are hoping for the video to go “viral” (much to the annoyance of Wells’s Martians!), and so would be greatful for everybody to press “like” on the video and share it with others.

                                         

    Check it out, here! (duration 27:32)

     

    Potty about Wells

    Pottery is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Wells, but this is exactly what author, David Haden, has made the focus of his new book: H.G. Wells in the Potteries: North Staffordshire and the Genesis of the Time Machine. The book demonstrates how elements of The Time Machine (1895) -- the Time Traveller, Weena, and the Sphinx -- could have originated in the visit of the young H. G. Wells to the industrial district called the Potteries, during the spring and summer of 1888. The book also features a closely annotated version of Wells’s “The Cone” (1895).

     

    Watch the promotional video here!  (duration 1:21)

     

    The book can be purchased here.

     

  3. Why did you choose H. G.  Wells and ‘The Crystal Egg’?

    Actor, director and producer Mike Archer of Old Lamp Entertainment talks about the company’s debut production ‘The Crystal Egg Live’, and how they have gone about bringing H. G. Wells’ classic short story to the stage in a multimedia immersive production. 

    I have been a fan of H. G. Wells’ work, ever since I was a child. I watched the 1953 ‘War of the Worlds’ and it left such an impression that when I went back and read the book. I was hooked. For me, Wells has a way of writing that is both grounded in the reality of the everyday, and yet fantastical at the same time. His words stimulate the imagination in a very powerful way and his literature outlined defining points in Victorian thoughts and attitudes to societal concerns. Verne, Wells, Doyle – all masters at cementing their fiction in a believable truth based on the latest changes in society.

    With his finger on the pulse of the time he wrote about, Wells was able to logically allude to where things were going in terms of the status quo. For me, the fact he was such a forward thinking writer, means his work is always relevant, and it’s what makes his work so adaptable; especially when they are re-contextualized to take in the fears and climate at the time they were produced. Hence, the 1953 film was about the fear of nuclear weapons. The 1930’s radio broadcast – the growing war in Europe. 

    I read ‘The Crystal Egg’ back in 2005. Instantly, the links between it and ‘The War of the Worlds’ really appealed to me. Being a fan of one, I was excited about the expansion of the ideas and themes in the other.

    When we were looking for a story to debut the company and our approach, we wanted a story that encapsulated the current state of the world we live in now, without being too on the nose about it. Between, me and my partner Luisa, we agreed that this is the way independent artistic output is most effective when addressing contemporary anxieties.

    We live in a world now where our own privacy is very much at question, to the point where we do not quite know who is watching us, from where, and what their motives may be.  Internet surveillance and the ‘invasion’ of our privacy is an unnerving prospect. 

    In adapting ‘The Crystal Egg’,  we wanted to tell an invasion story for the ‘now’. Today – these invasions are more covert and the crystal egg – the unassuming object in the corner of the room, becomes an excellent metaphor for that.

    We want to open the story out to a wider audience. The source material is hugely scientific. It encapsulates various ideas flourishing at the time Wells wrote his story about life on Mars and our place in the universe. Within the narrative there’s one passage about Cave’s state of being – his mental anguish and the relationship with his family. That became the catalyst for how we envisaged bringing ‘The Crystal Egg’ to life and developing it from that point. I like the material to inspire me, and provoke me to ask more and more questions of the text. 

    I believe you do not need to update something to find a meaning. In fact, keeping the story routed in the period means we are able to play with our theme even further – our audience watching the characters in their world, who are watched by creatures, and at one point, audience and creatures come face to face, watching each other. That is our goal in the show – to bring ‘our audience’ into the experience of interacting with the object Crystal Egg, as well as observing the technological invasion of the family unit. That was our strongest direction to follow in terms of adapting the material. To contextualize the ‘invasion’ theme as an invasion of the home and of the family, makes this aspect more  frightening through its intimacy to what we relate to in our contemporary lives. We still get the wonder of the egg, but ultimately there is a deeper, more menacing meaning in its presence. That is the metaphor for the insidious relationship society generally has with technology now. 

    For me, art has a responsibility, and if we can stimulate a sense of curiosity in the material and the works of Wells then we will have achieved our goal. I want to open his ideas out to a whole new generation of people with the same passion and curiosity I had as a child for ‘The War of the Worlds’, all the while confronting our own sensitivities, hopes and fears. For an author who was able to explore the direction we were collectively heading in, I would hope he would approve of our take on ‘The Crystal Egg’. 

    Online Base Image 

    The Crystal Egg Live is set to open at The Vaults, Waterloo on 6th January 2018 and will run until 13th January 2018. Tickets are limited so Advanced Booking to avoid disappointment is recommended. 

     

    Show Website: http://www.oldlamp.biz/crystal-egg-book-page

    Online Box Office: https://www.thevaults.london/the-crystal-egg