Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The First Men in the Moon

The Moon continues its reign as our nearest -- and most fascinating -- celestial body in H.G. Wells's The First Men in the Moon. Published at the dawn of the twentieth century in 1901, it manages to be both Victorian and modern at the same time; strewn with brass plates, glass portholes, and anti-gravity paint, it may well be the mother of all "steampunk" novels and films (and we'll be watching the excellent 1960's film adaptation next week).

Wells, whose name for some time was as synonymous with science fiction as was that of his precursor Jules Verne, opens with a characteristically casual and low-key story: that of a businessman, Mr. Bedford, who heads off to a country retreat to write a play, with the notion that it's an easy way to make money (a notion Wells himself, of course, knew to be untrue). There he meets his eccentric neighbor, Mr. Cavor, who is working to perfect a mysterious new material (humbly named "Cavorite" after himself), which will have the effect of blocking gravity. One can at least say that, should such a material exist, it would be a far more humane method of conveyance to the moon than be shot there from inside a giant space gun (which, due to inertia and the laws of motion, would have reduced its inhabitants to bloody jelly in a nanosecond). Not that Wells has given up on space guns -- we'll see another in the 1936 film he wrote, Things to Come -- but the story here calls for something that could plausibly be invented and put to use by a country gentleman, equipped with nothing more than ample spare time and a gifted amateur's command of chemistry.

Once on the moon -- or rather in it -- here Wells blends together such notions as Symmes's theory of a hollow earth with tales of subterranean wonders from the Theosophists' Agartha to Verne's Journey to the Centre of the Earth -- only here, the inhabitants are insectoids along the lines of large, intelligent ants. Wells manages to combine here our fear of the 'colony mind' (think of 1998's Antz) with his favorite theme, that of an alien race technologically superior to humankind. Throughout it, though, Bedford and Cavor remain human, and humane beings, unwitting ambassadors to an alien race, and perhaps harbingers of its doom (a theme brilliantly picked up by the frame narrative of the film version).

So hop on board -- suspend your disbelief (you must be getting used to it by now), and see what you make of this extraordinary voyage.

19 comments:

  1. The book 'The First Men in the Moon' by H.G. Wells was a very interesting story and makes me look forward to watching the film. An aspect of the story that I found most intriguing was the interactions between the Selenites and Bedford and Cavor. Humans are all we know. Even though we are all unique we still have the same basic qualities. Therefore, it makes sense why Bedford said "I think that our incurable anthropomorphism made us imagine there were human heads inside their masks" (152). Even though the Selenites knew some English, it was still very hard for them to communicate. Reasonably, it was challenging for Bedford and Cavor to understand their gestures that are so widely known on the moon but not to outsiders. This reminded me of a discussion that I had in one of my other classes. This included the concept of it being easier to fit in/be successful in a society if you are explicitly told the rules of that society. This would have made it much easier for Bedford and Cavor to move about the moon without being unsure about the Selenites ways. The familiarity of earth and what we are used to seeing/doing makes us feel comfortable. It also gives us confidence going about our daily lives. For these men, exploring the unknown was very interesting but also difficult because it was so different from what they know. As Bedford pointed out, "Our resemblances were not going to bridge our differences" (170). This makes me wonder what it would be like if there were actually creatures on the moon and what it would be like for them if they came to earth. I would be curious to hear what they have to say about our society and how they feel moving about a planet that makes them feel much heavier.

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  2. In the Book " The First Men in the Moon" is based on two people making contact with life on the moon. Bedford and Cavor travel in a spaceship that Cavor has made. The men are amazed at their abilities on the moon due to the gravitational pull. There not used of that on Earth. These two men are captured by "Selenites" also known as "moonies" which are large nearly human-sized ants that walk on their hind legs. There is a smart moonie called Grand Lunar. They are taken into a different world, the world of ant people. Once they got out of this world they seemed to not be able to find there spaceship. Cavor is captured and leaves a note telling of how hes captured. Bedford returns to Earth with several memories of his adventure. Unfortunately the sphere spaceship is launched by a curious young boy that is now lost forever in space. Cavor is able to send messages from the moon to Earth but unaware that Bedford had returned. This book can relate to life in today's society because it shows you need to look around your surroundings because you never know what there could be. I am looking forward to watching this film. The book seems unrealistic but that's why it's fiction and that's where the humor comes in. Hopefully it is funny and hope it is as good as I hope it will be.(Jaimee Barrett)

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  3. The First Men in the Moon by H. G. Wells was an interesting science fiction book. The narrator gave the reader a clear image of what it was like on the moon. The book used science to make the impossible seem plausible, with things such as the sphere to travel to the moon and the creation of cavorite. The author created aliens called Selenites, who lived on the moon, and gave them an ant-like appearance instead of a humanoid one. It was interesting how Wells created various types of Selenites, who had different features which dictated what their function in society was. The book’s two main characters, Bedford and Cavor, were captured by these creatures. When they managed to escape, they split up to look for the sphere so that they could return to Earth. Unfortunately, after Bedford found the sphere he went back to look for Cavor, but all he discovered was Cavor’s bloody cap and a letter saying that he was not able to get away from the Selenites. Bedford then left the moon and returned to Earth. I hated the fact that I did not know for certain what had happened to Cavor, but I assumed that he was dead. However, when Mr. Wendigees discovered disturbances in the electro-magnetic recordings, I was pleased to learn that Cavor had indeed survived and was sending messages to Earth. It was nice to find out that Cavor was communicating with the Selenites, Phi-oo and Tsi-puff, and learning their way of life. However, the moment he met the Grand Luna I got nervous and felt as though Cavor was not going to live much longer. Of course, when the Grand Luna asked about Earth and Cavor mention war, it sealed his fate. This book was interesting with respect to the science behind it, and it provided a rollercoaster of emotions which ranged from curious and excited to nervous and frustrated. (Amanda Lussier)

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  4. In The First Men in the Moon Mr. Bedford and Cavor go on a wild adventure to the moon. Cavor had been working on an anti gravity serum for months before he finally found the right formula. He used this in order to travel to the moon with Mr. Bedford, who was in it for the money. Once they get to the moon they find that there are living beings there called the selenites. The selenites try to capture them and study their ways, but Mr. Bedford was not comfortable with it and wanted off the moon as soon as possible. Cavor was intrigued by the selenites and wanted to observe them longer, he was content staying on the moon. In the end Mr. Bedford abandons Cavor and goes back to Earth. I found the book and movie to be different from the ones we have already watched/seen. This seemed to be more story line oriented, while the others were all over the place and more randomized. There were actual steps that were taken within the story, for example Cavor was first creating the cavorite, then once created used it to get to the moon, and so on. It made more sense to me than the other films/books. The book and movie were different in a couple different ways, one being that Cavor was made out to be much more eccentric in the movie than in the book, and they added Kate in the movie. Cavor was a little odd in the book too but not as much as they made him out to be in the movie. Kate is Mr. Bedford’s girlfriend in the movie; I don’t think that she was a necessary character because she really didn’t add anything to the plot. Overall the book was easy to read and makes you think of the possibilities if there were creatures on the moon.
    (Elizabeth Cook)

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  5. H.G. Well’s story, The first men in the moon was a compelling tale of two different types of men journey to the moon. In the novel, the narrator is also the main character Bedford. This allows the reader to understand what was going on in his mind and explain his reasoning. I enjoyed the retelling because it seem accurate of how years past down and there were certain aspects that he had forgotten. That’s why in the book version, I could see his frustration with this mad scientist named Cavor. It seemed like Cavor was so crazy with allowing his curiosity to get the better of him. He threw aside the risk to Bedford and himself for some knowledge on the culture of the Selenites. However, in contrast the film version showed a different story. I couldn’t help but see Bedford as an antagonist, taking advantage of both Kate and Cavor. Kate was tricked into accepting Bedford’s debt. And as soon as Bedford had met Cavor he already included his name on to his ideas. And had Bedford allowed himself to learn from the Selenites, the whole story would have been completely different. Instead of going on a rampage of attacking them then trying to escape, the 2 men would have been able to merge the earth and moon cultures together. It shows how practically often gets credited with being the right answer. But there isn’t anything practical of the journey they went on to the moon. Cavor is a man of Science and he had a better understanding of the moon. But he was shut out by Bedford because a business man would lead a crazed scientist in Earth. Cindy Xon

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  6. The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells is a comically interesting sci-fi novel. I really enjoyed being able to compare the novel to the movie. The main characters are Bedford and Cavor, Bedford being the main narrator. Bedford retelling the story gives the book an interesting twist we can hear how he feels, as well as his thoughts and frustration. This book fits along well with the past movies and has that steam-punk type vibe to it. I also liked how this book was a clash of two worlds between Bedford and Cavor, Bedford wanted to get away to right a play when we became very poor and all of the sudden he starts to find this idea of science and experiments and interesting. The to completely different men also went for completely different reasons. Bedford this almost, greedy character going for money, riches and frames on the contrary, Cavor wanted knowledge he wanted to go explore and stay. I think this idea is greatly depicted in the movie. The fact that Cavor wanted to stay, learn and so on where Bedford wanted to get in and get out. Regardless of the why to going, they both had no idea what they were going to endure and discover when they arrived on the moon. I thought this was another unique book and I enjoy the diverse and different rang of novels we read in this class. The movie that accompanied this book was also very well done, for something of its time. It had some similarities to the book as well as some large differences, however still managed to portray the book very well. (Gabrielle Demers)

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  7. The First Men in the Moon by HG Wells was a very interesting book. it was about how these two men Bedford and Cavor take an adventurous journey to the moon in Cavor's spaceship. As soon as they get to the moon they realized there is living life known as Selenites (Aliens). When they finally got a chance to leave the moon and go back home Cavor was captured and only Bedford was allowed to leave. This is how when people traveled to the moon and saw the flag and letter left by Cavor on the moon, then found Bedford many years later for him to go back to his memories with Cavor. What I thought was so interesting about the story was how the ship was able to get to the moon by painting his special anti gravitational serum all over it. Overall I enjoyed the book, which made me excited for the movie. Then realizing the movie had some similarities to the book made me think back and make connections. This book also made me think about if there are actually living creatures on planets besides Earth and I enjoyed it very much!

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  8. The film, The First Men on the Moon, directed by Nathan H. Juan is about UN astronauts landing on the moon for the "first time." As they land on the moon, they explore and find that there had been British Nation explorers there before and a letter from them as well. Quickly a UN space angel you is sent out to look for the first explorers and find the only survivor, Arnold Bedford. Bedford is now very old and once he is questioned, he does not take it so well but begins to tell how he made it to the moon. Due to his financial instability, he refugees to a far away lonely cottage where he meets an eccentric scientist, Joseph Cavor. Bedford catches Cavor making cavorite, a chemical substance that rejects gravity. Bedford is interested in the cavorite for personal reasons and so Cavor proposes to go to the moon and Bedford tags along. They cover the entire spaceship with cavorite and within an hour they are shut up into the moon. When they land, they explore the moon and suddenly the floor beneath their feet starts shaking and Bedford's helmet falls inside the hole. They go down this hole and when they find his helmet, they bump into extraterrestrials called "Selenites." Before fights them off but they soon get captured by the Selenites but then manage to escape once again. But in the end Cavor decides to stay on the moon in order to know more about the moon and its' society, while Bedford makes it back to the spaceship and flies back tot earth. This science-fiction, fantastical story is obviously a satirical version of the first men on the moon from1969. In this film which is based on H.G. Well's book, The First Men on the Moon, he is trying to imagine what if the real men who traveled to the moon were not the first to do so or what if there really was extraterrestrials who also have their own society are few of the questions that leave his audience free to imagine their own version of the story.

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  9. The First Men in the Moon by H.G Wells was a very good story. A struggling play writer named Bedford is bothered by a noise while trying to write in peace and while going to explore the source he meets a physicist named Cavor who is building a spherical spaceship with plans to go to the moon. The two men journey up to the moon and discover amazing things. One of those things being weightlessness. This was a fun surprise to experience and along with that they discovered aliens called Selenites. Naturally, Cavor was curious about these creatures and wanted to observe them a long time. Bedford eventually grew anxious being on the moon to long and abandoned Cavor. This book was very interesting for me because it was scifi and great imaginations like this lead to better and more accurately developed movies which end up being so appreciated by us. The author imagined the moon in a reasonable way and it really took your mind on a wonderful adventure.

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  10. The First Men in the Moon is a science fiction novel and movie based on the comical trip to the moon taken by Mr. Bedford and Dr. Cavor. Bedford and Cavor decide to take a trip to the moon by painting their ship with anti-gravitational serum, which was funny to me because of how unrealistic it was. Bedford and Cavor encountered ant like aliens that were called selenites who all had completely different personalities about them. Fighting off the selenites on the moon and wanting to know more about them caused Cavor to stay which I definitely didn't expect to happen. Overall, the book wasn't a favorite of mine, but I could appreciate some of the humor.

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  11. The book First Men in the Moon was an interesting story to read. The idea of another life of the moon is not realistic to the world we live in now. Being able to read and imagine what it would be like is pretty cool to me. Also, being able to read it and play it in my head then to actually see the movie was very enjoyable to me, being able to compare and contrast the difference and similarities of them both helped me understand and enjoy the story much better. I also liked how this story showed the clashing between the two characters lifestyle, Bedford and Cavor, Both had different reasons as to why they wanted to get to the moon, Bedford for money and Cavor for knowledge. Knowing this is completely different things made it more interesting also. Even though the movie had both some similarities and differences, it still resembled the book very well. I enjoyed reading and watching this story very much, it showed us another world that we are not familiar with.

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  12. The novel The First Men in the Moon, was a very interesting read. It’s about a journey that Mister Bedford and Cavor took to the moon on a spherical spaceship. They were captured by Selenite’s also called Moonies. It was weird they were ants that were human sized that walked upright on their hind legs. Throughout the story they were trying to get away and they do. Then they couldn’t find their spherical spaceship so they split up. Cavor was captured again and Bedford returned alone to earth. I like reading novels that you can visualize what’s going on, even though it’s so far fetch. The imagination is a very strong tool that is really used throughout this novel. It was interesting to read that Cavor basically was learning all about the Moonies and communicating with them and also sending messages to earth not knowing that Bedford was back from the moon. I liked this novel it was very good, it reminded me of Baron Munchausen when he had traveled to the moon in its own way.

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  13. I believe that the imagination used throughout the story was amazing. It gave the right type of humor for the audience and was enjoyable. I think that the movie made Cavor seem more crazy than the book did, however. In the movie, he seemed like he belonged in a crazy house, while in the book he seemed more like a mad scientist, but that is just my opinion. I am not surprised that Cavor got trapped on the moon. Based on how he acted throughout the movie it was obvious that he would form relationships with the moon people and learn about their culture. Overall, I think this story, as weird as it was, was a great read and a great movie to watch. I love the imagination that was put into it.

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  14. First Men in the Moon was an interesting novel as well as movie. The story follows the travels of two men Cavor and Bedford who are trying to journey to the moon. The moon is a popular setting for science fiction novels and this story uses it well. Cavorite is used to make a sphere to get to the moon and once there Cavor will not leave because he wants to aid the aliens in learning about the human race. My favorite part overall however was how this story had real world capitalist ideas. Bedford sees Cavor as a financially sound investment and is not doing anything for adventure. Bedford sees Cavor as a way to make money and that is all. This idea was interesting to me because it was a prominent real world issue found in a science fiction novel. This novel and film were interesting and followed the ideals of successful science fiction as well as placing very current societal issues within its unbelievable plot points.

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  15. The First Men in the Moon by H.G Wells was an interesting book about Bedford and Cavor who are two men who take a journey to the moon. They arrive at the moon and realize that there is live there know as Selenites, but when they go to finally leave the moon Bedford was allowed to go and Cavor was captured by the Selenites. Cavor left a flag and letter on the moon and when found Bedford was looked for for many years to back up the story and truth about oing to the moon with Cavor. While reading the book I was wondering how the movie would be if there would be similarities or not. As the film played I thought back to the book and to present day now of how were are looking for life out in space besides earth. It makes me wander if there even is another creature out in the atmosphere somewhere. Overall I really enjoyed the book along with the film. (Kelsey Wood)

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  16. The First Men In the Moon by H.G Wells was in my opinion a pretty good read. I found that for me its harder to understand the text in most of the books we read in class.After reading half way through the book i understood what was going on. When they arrive on the moon they think there the first and only people on the moon, but when they see the British flag they understand that there not the only ones there. The British have already claimed the moon. i did enjoy reading the book, but i enjoyed the movie more. It made me wonder if there is anything living on any of the planets in our solar system today. (Mikayla Wood)

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  17. This movie The First Men In The Moon was a movie and book about two guys that take a trip to the moon. I enjoyed watching this movie because it was the type of movie that kept my attention. It was interesting how Cavor created something in his house that was able to go to the moon. When they got there the found some other life form on the moon. These things looked like giant ants that were walking around like humans. These creatures were kinda keeping Cavor, Katherine, and Bedford on the moon by taking apart their machine. Bedford found this and was able to put it back together with the help of Cavor when the shades wouldn't work. Once Cavor fixed the issue he would tell Bedford that he wasn't going back to earth with them. So now Katherine and Bedford went back to earth without Cavor. Kelly Batzinger

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  18. The First Men in the Moon by H.G Wells was an extraordinary book and movie in my opinion. I really enjoyed watching the movie, since I am more of a visual type of learner and that is what draws my attention more. I am really enjoying all of these science-fiction stories, I used to never watch or read anything like these past couple of books. I like how they come up with ideas such as Cavorite, which can eliminate the force of gravity. I know that there is no such thing, but it is ideas like this that can spark an idea and change the world. Overall, I truly enjoyed both the film and book, it has been my favorite thus far. (Brad Auger)

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  19. The First Men in the moon by H.G. Wells, I thought was little more than ordinary silly type of film. It for sure had me laughing and i had my attention the whole way through. It reminded me of how when we were kids and made rocket ships out of boxes that could go to the moon or forts made out of blankets. In this movie, Cavor was actually able to make this rocketship in his home that took them all the way to the moon. brilliant.
    (K.Overly)

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