The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The story has two principal characters: Bedford, a bankrupt fortune hunter, and Cavor, an impractical scientist. They are neighbors in the village of Lympne. Throughout the novel, these two figures are contrasted and compared as the author makes satirical observations about humanity in general and utopian ideas in particular.

Cavor has invented a substance called Cavorite that neutralizes the effects of gravity. Bedford’s entrepreneurial greed senses an opportunity to make money. Before long, the pair are on their way to the Moon in a Cavorite sphere. The journey is related in a believable manner, with some accurate anticipations of the effects of weightlessness in space. Arriving on the Moon, the travelers find that it is in daylight for half of each Earth month. During this time, the atmosphere that was frozen in the other two weeks is warmed, and fantastic vegetation appears. The inhabitants of the Moon, the Selenites, are insectlike creatures who pasture giant worms, the mooncalves, as their food source.

The Selenites live in an ordered society, modeled no doubt on what H. G. Wells knew of the habits of ants and bees, in a kind of honeycomb under the lunar surface. Bedford and Cavor are captured and react very differently to their plight: Bedford wants to carry off as much gold as possible—gold is the Selenites most common mineral—and return to Earth, while Cavor tries to communicate with his captors, whom he finds fascinating....

(The entire section is 514 words.)