Pulp Fiction: Rene Brantonne Cover for L’Invisible by Jean de la Hire

L'Invisble

The French sci-fi novel L’Invisible was written by Jean de La Hire, aka Espié Adolphem, for Éditions Jaeger et Hauteville’s Fantastic series in 1953. The set-up is ingenious here—basically, H.G. Wells’ famous novel The Invisible Man was a disguised factual account, and this book reveals the truth about the man Wells fictionalized. He develops an invisibility potion, uses it to make a fortune, and later faces a choice between continuing on his path or giving it up for love. The cool cover art is by René Brantonne.

via Pulp International


There Are No Wars to End All Wars: Why Barbarism Endures

Progressives can’t wish away human nature.

Charles C. W. Cooke writes: H. G. Wells’s famous prediction that the First World War would be the “war to end all wars” was met with skepticism by the British prime minister. “This war, like the nextBarbarism-Endures-ISIS war,” David Lloyd George quipped in the summer of 1916, “is a war to end war.” History, he sighed, is not shaped by wishful thinking.

 “The lessons of history endure, because human nature never changed.”

— J. Rufus Fears

Two decades later, Lloyd George would be proven right. And yet, in the intervening period, it was Wells’s sentiment that prevailed. The horrors of the trenches having made rationalization imperative, a popular and holistic narrative was developed. The Great War, Woodrow Wilson quixotically argued, had finally managed to “make the world safe for democracy” and, in doing so, had served an invaluable purpose. Henceforth, human beings would remember the valuable lesson that had been written in so much blood, coming together in mutual understanding to, as Wells rather dramatically put it,“exorcise a world-madness and end an age.” And that, it was thought, would be that. Read the rest of this entry »


They Had a Dream: Rule By Experts

President Obama Laughs with Aides on Air Force One

They wanted their chance, and they got it. They had it…

For The Weekly Standard, Noemie Emery writes: They had a dream. For almost a hundred years now, the famed academic-artistic-and-punditry industrial complex has dreamed of a government run by their kind of people (i.e., nature’s noblemen), whose intelligence, wit, and refined sensibilities would bring us a heaven on earth. Their keen intellects would cut through the WELL.v19-36.June2_.Emery_.ObamacareSigningclutter as mere mortals’ couldn’t. They would lift up the wretched, oppressed by cruel forces. Above all, they would counter the greed of the merchants, the limited views of the business community, and the ignorance of the conformist and dim middle class.

They blew it. They’re done.

Out of sorts and out of office after 1828, when power passed from the Adamses to the children of burghers and immigrants, they had begun to strike back by the 1920s, led by the likes of George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, H. L. Mencken, Herbert Croly, and Sinclair Lewis. Their stock in trade was their belief in themselves, and their contempt for the way the middle class thought, lived, and made and spent money: Commerce was crude, consumption was vulgar, and industry, which employed millions and improved the lives of many more people, too gross and/or grubby for words.41C7HuowRFL._SL110_

[Order Noemie Emery‘s book Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families from Amazon.com]

“For the American critics of mass culture, it was the good times of the 1920s, not the depression of the 1930s, 41eaIef4eCL._SL110_that proved terrifying,” says Fred Siegel, whose book The Revolt Against the Masses  describes and eviscerates this group and its aspirations.

[The Revolt Against the Masses is also available from Amazon.com]

In their dream world, “intellectuals, as well as poet-leaders, experts, and social scientists such as themselves would lead the regime,” as Siegel tells us. “It was thus a crucial imperative to constrain the conventional and often corrupt politics of middle-class capitalists so that these far-seeing leaders might obtain the recognition and power that was only their due. Read the rest of this entry »


The War of the Worlds and the Myth of Mass Panic

 writes:  Next week will mark the 75th anniversary of Orson Welles’ The War of the Worlds, a radio drama that is often accused of provoking a mass panic. (In fact, the panic was a myth.) Big Picture Science, a public radio show sponsored by the SETI Institute — yes, that SETI Institute — just devoted an hour to Welles’ show, and I was one of the guests.

You can listen to the episode here. First Michael Socolow does an excellent job of debunking the story of the mass panic, and then I put the legend into a larger historical context. Then Kevin Schindler talks about the idea of life on Mars, and then Katy Culver discusses misinformation in social media today. Clips from Welles’ broadcast appear throughout the program, but if you’ve never heard the whole play, I recommend it highly; you can download it here.

Bonus links: The radio play later inspired a strange Superman comic, and the original H.G. Wells novel later inspired a bad disco record.

Hit & Run : Reason.com