H G Wells’s short story ‘The Star’ (originally published in the Christmas number of The Graphic in 1897) begins with astronomers observing a star approaching the solar system. They calculate it will pass close to the Earth – perhaps even collide with it. As the ‘star’ comes nearer, reaction ranges from apathy to panic. Its gravitational pull causes earthquakes, tidal waves, and the melting of the ice caps. Millions are killed, although the star eventually misses the Earth and falls into the Sun, and the remaining population begin to rebuild their lives. Meanwhile, Martian astronomers remark upon how little damage has been done to their neighbour.
- Article by:
- Mike Ashley
- Visions of the future
Disease, famine, pollution and peculiar weather seemed to threaten human survival in the 19th century. Mike Ashley considers the apocalyptic literature that this climate of uncertainty produced.