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  1. 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.

     

  2. 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

  3.  

    In September 2017 we look forward to having Andrew Mark Sewell and Richard Kurti speaking about their passion; science fiction. Andrew recently launched Dan Dare, an audio drama. Inspired by the growing interest in Science Fiction, Dan Dare the audio drama was a revival. Beloved by readers of Eagle comics, the original stories ran from 1950-67. So enduringly popular were the adventures of Colonel Dare that he has returned several times since the original run ended.

                One of George Lucas’ principle influences when writing Star Wars was “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell. In the book, Campbell describes the concept of a mono-myth, the hero’s story that is found in all human civilisation:

    “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

    Listening to the first episode of Dan Dare – The Audio Adventures: Voyage To Venus I was struck by how Colonel Dare’s adventures are a superb example of Campbell’s mono-myth.

                The director of the series and driving force behind Dan Dare’s audio revival, Andrew Mark Sewell, described these new adventures to me as, “Indiana Jones in space!” It’s a very apt description. Lucas and Steven Spielberg recognised that their love for the serials of the 1950s could be reimagined for a modern audience with Raiders of The Lost Ark. Indy is at once an old-fashioned hero and a modern 1980s film icon. Colonel Dare, as a “pilot of the future” is perfectly placed to unify our sense of the traditional and the modern in the same way when we are thrust into his new 21st century adventures. This enduring verisimilitude on the part of Andrew and the whole superb cast and crew of Dan Dare – The Audio Adventures not only brightly reflects Campbell’s mono-myth but also provides a fresh and genuinely exciting take on a venerated character.

                Andrew has a background in film and he likes to describe his audio dramas as, “films that you listen to instead of watch”. I would describe this quality as the new series secret weapon. Film as spectacle has always held the power to amaze and astonish. But you are always a viewer at a film and never an audient, because the director has decided what you will see and how it will look. What works so well with the meticulous sonic production of Dan Dare – The Audio Adventures is that you have all the atmosphere of a big budget film but your imagination is left to decide exactly what it all looks like. As an audiobook narrator, I understand this power to guide but not define an audiences’ imagination well. In Voyage to Venus though I have never heard such a well realised soundscape. It is spectacularly immersive and as clothing for the voice artists’ excellent performances it creates a quite brilliant listening experience.

                I am truly grateful that I could be part of the launch of Dan Dare – The Audio Adventures. It’s a superb production. The script is a wonderful blend of the traditional and the modern, the sound design is perhaps the best I have ever heard and Andrew has done a truly outstanding job of bringing the whole thing about. Order from the Big Finish website here. I strongly advise you to grab a copy and join the Interplanet Space Fleet today, it’s shaping up to be quite an adventure. 

    We look forward to hearing their talk at the Living Planet Centre on 21st September at 7.30pm. Tickets Available.

     

    Many thanks to Sam Devereaux for this blog post. Sam is a professional Voice Actor specialising in Audiobook narration, Video Games voice over and Animation characters. To find out more, listen to demos or contact Sam about bringing character to your story please visit: www.samdevereaux.co.uk