Thursday, 8 December 2016

Suddenly Wells Everywhere

In 1946, having recently published the short but aptly-titled Mind at the End of Its Tether, H. G. Wells died. And thus 2017, which is 70 years later, sees him drop out of copyright in much of the world. And lo, there suddenly shall come forth a torrent of Wells.

Vintage Classics UK is one of the first to have a go, with these eye-warping 3D covers. Vintage Classics used to compete with Penguin Classics, who have the paperback rights to Wells while copyright lasts. Now Vintage is wned by the same people, Penguin Random House, so they will be going into competition with themselves, but I'm sure this makes sense to an accountant somewhere.

Oxford World's Classics are being rather more sober about things (I do like the Moreau cover, but the others are a bit bland).

Alma are adding him to their Evergreens catalogue...

..while Gollancz/Weinfeld & Nicolson, who currently only have hardback rights to Wells, are shuffling a whole lot into paperback (more on these here):

Collins Classics are doing their usual quickie covers...

..and the Macmillan Collector's Library are having a go too:

Vintage US is bringing out a couple...

..and finally we have Wordworth Classics, if you want ugly but cheap editions.

The five most popular choices in all this lot are, of course, five of Wells's best-known books, and for a good reason. Each of them effectively created a branch of science-fiction that would have countless imitators and followers over the next century-and-more (The War of the Worlds: alien invasion, The Time Machine: time travel, The First Men in the Moon: space exploration, The Island of Doctor Moreau: biological/genetic engineering, The Invisible Man: superpowers), but it's nice to see a few of the neglected social novels getting some attention too. In this respect, Peter Owen is standing out from the crowd: they're republishing only one Wells, and it's completely SF-free.


jb said...

There's also a new-ish omnibus from Penguin that I have, in part for the gorgeous cover:

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