About the Author
H.G. WELLS: H.G. Wells (21 September 1866 – 13 August 1946) was a storied English author prolific in many genres. He wrote dozens of novels, short stories, and works of social commentary, satire, biography, and autobiography. He is now best remembered for his science fiction novels and is often referred to as the "father of science fiction."
During his own lifetime, however, he was most prominent as a forward-looking, even prophetic social critic who devoted his literary talents to the development of a progressive vision on a global scale. A futurist, he wrote a number of utopian works and foresaw the advent of airplanes, tanks, space travel, nuclear weapons, satellite television and something resembling the internet. His science fiction imagined time travel, alien invasion, invisibility, and biological engineering. Brian Aldiss referred to Wells as the "Shakespeare of science fiction”. His most notable science fiction works include The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), and The War of the Worlds (1898). He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature four times.
He was also from an early date an outspoken socialist, often (but not always, as at the beginning of the First World War) sympathising with pacifist views. His later works became increasingly political, and he wrote little science fiction, while he sometimes indicated on official documents that his profession was that of journalist. Novels like Kipps and The History of Mr. Polly, which describe lower-middle-class life, led to the suggestion that he was a worthy successor to Charles Dickens, but Wells described a range of social strata and even attempted, in Tono-Bungay (1909), a diagnosis of English society as a whole.
BILL SIENKIEWICZ: Bill Sienkiewicz (pronounced sin-KEV-itch) is an Eisner-winning, Emmy-nominated artist best known for revamping the style of comic and graphic novel illustration from 1980 onward, most notably with Marvel Comics' Elektra: Assassin and his acclaimed graphic novel Stray Toasters, earning him an international reputation and cult status across media industries.
Sienkiewicz, born Boleslav Felix Robert Sienkiewicz, is descended from the Nobel Prize-winning Polish novelist Henryk Sienkiewicz. He grew up in rural New Jersey, taught himself anatomy to better his sketches and worked construction to put himself through the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts in Newark, New Jersey.
He created groundbreaking movie promotional art for The Dark Knight, The Grinch, Unforgiven and the hit video game Resident Evil.
His work has graced the National Museum of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; galleries in Paris, Barcelona and Tuscany; Spain's famed La Semana Negra (The Black Week) Festival; advertising campaigns for Nike, MTV and Nissan; posters for The Green Mile and 2006 Winter Olympics; and magazines such as Entertainment Weekly and Spin.
Books include Jimi Hendrix, Voodoo Child: The Illustrated Legend of Jimi Hendrix and Santa: My Life & Times (An Illustrated Autobiography). CD covers include The Very Beast of Dio, Bruce Cockburn's The Charity Of Night, The RZA's Bobby Digital In Stereo, EPMD's Business As Usual and Sold Out: A Threevening With Kevin Smith. With longtime friend and mentor Neal Adams, Sienkiewicz also designed multimedia stage productions for Roger Waters' 2006 Dark Side of the Moon tour.
A classically-trained painter, Sienkiewicz's renderings incorporate abstract and expressionist influences and any combination of oil painting, acrylics, watercolor, mixed-media, collage and mimeograph previously unheard of in comics. His work has garnered numerous accolades most notably a 2004 Eisner Award for DC Comics' The Sandman: Endless Nights, and 1995 and 1996 Emmy Award nominations for production and character design on the PBS children's TV series Where In the World is Carmen Sandiego? Elektra: Assassin swept the top comic illustration awards in the U.S., Europe and Italy, respectively, with a 1987 Kirby Award, 1986 Yellow Kid Award, and 1986 Gran Guigiri Award.
GUILLERMO DEL TORO: Guillermo del Toro (born October 9, 1964) is a Mexican film director, screenwriter, producer, and novelist. In his filmmaking career, del Toro has shifted between Spanish-language dark fantasy pieces, such as the gothic horror films The Devil's Backbone (2001) and Pan's Labyrinth (2006), and more mainstream American action films, such as the vampire superhero action film Blade II (2002), the supernatural superhero film Hellboy (2004), its sequel Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008), and the science fiction monster film Pacific Rim (2013).
His 2017 fantasy film The Shape of Water received critical acclaim and won a Golden Lion at the 74th Venice International Film Festival as well as the Academy Award for Best Picture. Del Toro also received an Academy Award for Best Director for the film, as well as the Golden Globe Award, BAFTA Award, Critics' Choice Award, and Directors Guild of America Award.
Del Toro's work is characterised by a strong connection to fairy tales and horror, with an effort to infuse visual or poetic beauty. He has had a lifelong fascination with monsters, which he considers symbols of great power.
Del Toro is known for his use of insectile and religious imagery, the themes of Catholicism and celebrating imperfection, underworld and clockwork motifs, practical special effects, dominant amber lighting, and his frequent collaborations with actors Ron Perlman and Doug Jones.
Date of Birth:September 21, 1866
Date of Death:August 13, 1946
Place of Birth:Bromley, Kent, England
Place of Death:London, England
Education:Normal School of Science, London, England
Read an Excerpt
In The Dingey Of The "Lady Vain."
I DO not propose to add anything to what has already been written concerning the loss of the "Lady Vain." As everyone knows, she collided with a derelict when ten days out from Callao. The longboat, with seven of the crew, was picked up eighteen days after by H. M. gunboat "Myrtle," and the story of their terrible privations has become quite as well known as the far more horrible "Medusa" case. But I have to add to the published story of the "Lady Vain" another, possibly as horrible and far stranger. It has hitherto been supposed that the four men who were in the dingey perished, but this is incorrect. I have the best of evidence for this assertion: I was one of the four men.
But in the first place I must state that there never were four men in the dingey,the number was three. Constans, who was "seen by the captain to jump into the gig," luckily for us and unluckily for himself did not reach us. He came down out of the tangle of ropes under the stays of the smashed bowsprit, some small rope caught his heel as he let go, and he hung for a moment head downward, and then fell and struck a block or spar floating in the water. We pulled towards him, but he never came up.
Daily News, March 17, 1887.
I say lucky for us he did not reach us, and I might almost say luckily for himself; for we had only a small breaker of water and some soddened ship's biscuits with us, so sudden had been the alarm, so unprepared the ship for any disaster. We thought the people on the launch would be better provisioned (though it seems they were not), and we tried to hail them. They could not have heard us, and the next morning when the drizzle cleared, which was not until past midday,we could see nothing of them. We could not stand up to look about us, because of the pitching of the boat. The two other men who had escaped so far with me were a man named Helmar, a passenger like myself, and a seaman whose name I don't know, a short sturdy man, with a stammer.
We drifted famishing, and, after our water had come to an end, tormented by an intolerable thirst, for eight days altogether. After the second day the sea subsided slowly to a glassy calm. It is quite impossible for the ordinary reader to imagine those eight days. He has not, luckily for himself, anything in his memory to imagine with. After the first day we said little to one another, and lay in our places in the boat and stared at the horizon, or watched, with eyes that grew larger and more haggard every day, the misery and weakness gaining upon our companions. The sun became pitiless. The water ended on the fourth day, and we were already thinking strange things and saying them with our eyes; but it was, I think, the sixth before Helmar gave voice to the thing we had all been thinking. I remember our voices were dry and thin, so that we bent towards one another and spared our words. I stood out against it with all my might, was rather for scuttling the boat and perishing together among the sharks that followed us; but when Helmar said that if his proposal was accepted we should have drink, the sailor came round to him.
I would not draw lots however, and in the night the sailor whispered to Helmar again and again, and I sat in the bows with my clasp-knife in my hand, though I doubt if I had the stuff in me to fight; and in the morning I agreed to Helmar's proposal, and we handed halfpence to find the odd man. The lot fell upon the sailor; but he was the strongest of us and would not abide by it, and attacked Helmar with his hands. They grappled together and almost stood up. I crawled along the boat to them, intending to help Helmar by grasping the sailor's leg; but the sailor stumbled with the swaying of the boat, and the two fell upon the gunwale and rolled overboard together. They sank like stones. I remember laughing at that, and wondering why I laughed. The laugh caught me suddenly like a thing from without.
I lay across one of the thwarts for I know not how long, thinking that if I had the strength I would drink sea-water and madden myself to die quickly. And even as I lay there I saw, with no more interest than if it had been a picture, a sail come up towards me over the sky-line. My mind must have been wandering, and yet I remember all that happened, quite distinctly. I remember how my head swayed with the seas, and the horizon with the sail above it danced up and down; but I also remember as distinctly that I had a persuasion that I was dead, and that I thought what a jest it was that they should come too late by such a little to catch me in my body.
For an endless period, as it seemed to me, I lay with my head on the thwart watching the schooner (she was a little ship, schooner-rigged fore and aft) come up out of the sea. She kept tacking to and fro in a widening compass, for she was sailing dead into the wind. It never entered my head to attempt to attract attention, and I do not remember anything distinctly after the sight of her side until I found myself in a little cabin aft. There's a dim half-memory of being lifted up to the gangway, and of a big red countenance covered with freckles and surrounded with red hair staring at me over the bulwarks. I also had a disconnected impression of a dark face, with extraordinary eyes, close to mine; but that I thought was a nightmare, until I met it again. I fancy I recollect some stuff being poured in between my teeth; and that is all.
Table of ContentsTable of Contents
I. IN THE DINGEY OF THE "LADY VAIN." 3
II. THE MAN WHO WAS GOING NOWHERE. 4
III. THE STRANGE FACE. 6
IV. AT THE SCHOONER'S RAIL. 8
V. THE MAN WHO HAD NOWHERE TO GO. 10
VI. THE EVIL-LOOKING BOATMEN. 12
VII. THE LOCKED DOOR. 14
VIII. THE CRYING OF THE PUMA. 16
IX. THE THING IN THE FOREST. 17
X. THE CRYING OF THE MAN. 21
XI. THE HUNTING OF THE MAN. 23
XII. THE SAYERS OF THE LAW. 25
XIII. A PARLEY. 29
XIV. DOCTOR MOREAU EXPLAINS. 31
XV. CONCERNING THE BEAST FOLK. 36
XVI. HOW THE BEAST FOLK TASTE BLOOD. 39
XVII. A CATASTROPHE. 45
XVIII. THE FINDING OF MOREAU. 47
XIX. MONTGOMERY'S "BANK HOLIDAY." 49
XX. ALONE WITH THE BEAST FOLK. 52
XXI. THE REVERSION OF THE BEAST FOLK. 54
XXII. THE MAN ALONE. 60
Reading Group Guide
1. At the time The Island of Dr. Moreau was published, Wells had gained success with The Time Machine. However, critics felt the plot of Dr. Moreau was just as unbelievable as that of The Time Machine. While time travel is, and always was, pure science fiction, the late 1800s did see many medical breakthroughs. Why would it be so hard for Wells’s audience to believe in biological engineering?
2. In the Foreword, Peter Straub speaks of the text being “at war with itself,” with the result that the narrative is tense and multi-layered. Do you agree with this assessment?
3. Notice the many stylesof language throughout the novel: Prendick’s continual misreading of sounds and explanations, the Beast Folk’s slurring speech, Moreau’s bumbling excuse for his experiments, and so on. How does Wells use these variations in language? Is his use of variations a comment on society or merely a literary device to further the plot?
4. Consider the strange litany the Beast Folk recite in chapter 12. What is Wells saying about religion? Is this strange religion positive or negative, and if positive, whom does it benefit the creatures or their master?
5. Look at the three men in the novel. Compare Prendick’s mannerisms with those of Montgomery and Moreau throughout the book. What do each man's mannerisms say about him? Do the mannerisms help or hinder each man throughout the action?
6. Wells was an educated man and studied under the famous scientist T. H. Huxley. Both men fully supported Darwin’s theory of evolution. Why, then, did Wells write a novel that seems to view science, and scientific experimentation, as a threat to society?