H. G. Wells Questions and Answers

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Can someone please help me understand the story "The Star" by H.G. Wells?

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Gaia Chandler, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I think an interesting approach to understanding H.G. Wells’s short story “The Star” (1897) is by paying particularly close attention to its beginning and end. After launching us straight into the action—a new heavenly body has been observed close to Neptune—the story talks about the relative insignificance of the solar system in the context of the enormity of the universe.

Few people without a training in science can realise the huge isolation of the solar system. The sun with its specks of planets, its dust of planetoids, and its impalpable comets, swims in a vacant immensity that...

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fekneim | Student

Apocalyptic fiction, such as H. G. Wells’s short story The Star, is as old as the written word. Whether the end comes through an atomic accident, alien invasion or natural disaster, virtually every annihilation tale, from Christian end times narratives to Stephen King’s masterpiece The Stand, follows a very predictable outline. The Star can be considered the prototype for the disaster/survival subgenre of SciFi, and it may have been an early draft for Wells’s own masterpiece, The War of the Worlds. In The Star, Wells codified the stereotypical disaster story with predicable situations in specific order:

• “The Precipitating Event” portends approaching disaster, as when the star appears at edge of solar system and crashes into Neptune, igniting a new star.

• “The Dawning of Concern” is the moment when someone realizes it might have harmful consequences; “Do we come in the way? I wonder —.”

• “The Scoffing” during which people are able to put a beneficial or benign spin on the event; it’s a good omen, a romantic night light, an icebreaker at a dance. ,

• “The Proof of impending disaster” that is ignored or refuted, in this case, the master mathematician’s calculations show the star will intersect Earth’s path.

• “The Laughter Stops” as the situation gets worse and people can no longer deny what is happening. The Star appears larger and closer every night and small calamities start to happen.

• “Panic Propagates” as around the world people realize catastrophes are out of control and

• “Plans for Saving the Earth/humanity” are formulated and abandoned, such as mass migration out to sea or rockets to other planets for example.

• “The Resolution” as the star recedes from Earth and things calm down.

• “Acceptance of ‘the new normal’” as grateful survivors get back to the business of life.

Compare these stages to other catastrophe books and films and it is apparent that Wells’s outline for disaster is unchanged after more than 100 years.