A provocative novel by H.G. Wells. In the midst of a world war, the tail of a comet brushes the atmosphere of earth, causing everyone to lose consciousness for a few hours. When the world awakens, everyone has an expanded understanding of the meaning of things. The war is quickly ended; a new utopia is created; even crime is reduced to near zero. What caused the transformation–or was there one?
I saw a gray–haired man, a figure of hale age, sitting at a desk and writing.
He seemed to be in a room in a tower, very high, so that through the tall window on his left one perceived only distances, a remote horizon of sea, a headland and that vague haze and glitter in the sunset that many miles away marks a city. All the appointments of this room were orderly and beautiful, and in some subtle quality, in this small difference and that, new to me and strange. They were in no fashion I could name, and the simple costume the man wore suggested neither period nor country. It might, I thought, be the Happy Future, or Utopia, or the Land of Simple Dreams; an errant mote of memory, Henry James’s phrase and story of “The Great Good Place,” twinkled across my mind, and passed and left no light.
The man I saw wrote with a thing like a fountain pen, a modern touch that prohibited any historical retrospection, and as he finished each sheet, writing in an easy flowing hand, he added it to a growing pile upon a graceful little table under the window. His last done sheets lay loose, partly covering others that were clipped together into fascicles.
Clearly he was unaware of my presence, and I stood waiting until his pen should come to a pause. Old as he certainly was he wrote with a steady hand….