H. G. Wells: Dystopian, 1908

Self started reading Inferno: The Fiery Destruction of Hamburg, 1943 a few days ago, while she was taking a wee break in San Luis Obispo. The sun was shining! It was hot! The surrounding foothills were brown!

In the early afternoon, when it got too hot to walk, she holed up in the apartment (which had a really fabulous blow-up of Dearest Mum’s favorite actor, Steve McQueen; self felt right at home, the minute she walked in) and read.

Self feared this book would be a dreadful trial, a slog to get through. But, surprisingly, it has been a fast and engrossing read. Even from the first chapter, which began somewhere in 1169, the year Hamburg’s harbor was created/christened.

Chapter 6 (Self wasn’t kidding when she said this was a fast read) begins with a quote from an H. G. Wells novel, The War in the Air, which is about “a world war in which aerial bombing campaigns would destroy every major city and bring about universal social collapse.”

Here is his fictional description of “the bombing of New York.” Bear in mind the novel was published in 1908:

  • They smashed up the city as a child will shatter its cities of brick and card. Below, they left ruins and blazing conflagrations and heaped and scattered dead . . . Lower New York was soon a furnace of crimson flames, from which there was no escape. Cars, railways, ferries, all had ceased, and never a light led the way of the distracted fugitives in that dusky confusion but the light of burning.

Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.


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