A Review: H. G. Wells, The Food Of The Gods

December 22, 2021

A Review

The Food Of The Gods

by

H.G. Wells

by

R.E. Prindle

Texts:

Wells, H.G. The Food Of The Gods.

Wells, H.G.  In the Day Of The Comet

Wyndham, John: The Midwich Cuckoos

Wyndham, John: The Day Of The Triffids

Movie:  The Village Of The Damned  (based on The Midwich Cuckoos)

The Food Of The Gods is one of the Wells novels included in the Omnibus titled Seven Science Fiction Novels of H.G.Wells  Of the seven the three most read are The Time Machine, The War Of The Worlds and The Island Of Dr. Moreau.  Within the lesser read three are The Food Of The Gods and In The Day Of The Comet. 

While I have had a copy of Seven Science Fiction Novels ‘forever’ I first read Food only about fifteen years ago, (I’m eighty-five.)   I’ve thought about it frequently over the years, but had it sharply called to mind within the last few days by an incident that occurred in India.

Apparently a dog killed a monkey.  One wouldn’t consider this a matter of Darwinian natural rejection but it probably is.  As we all know the human population of the globe now nearing eight billion is expanding rapidly preempting the land leaving little room for other species.  I thought then that the monkeys that had always shared the land amicably with the humans are now finding their living space impinged upon.

When the human population that was only 250 million when the British arrived in the eighteenth century is now fast approaching a billion five hundred million almost equaling China.  Elephants and tigers and probably otherspecies are facing extinction in the wild.  Perhaps monkeys and dogs are facing competition in more settled areas.

Other species that haven’ yet been exterminated or nearly so are also crowding the landscape.  At any rate, the monkeys were so enraged at the unjustifiable monkeycide that a turf war between monkeys and dogs has begun.  Up to this writing monkeys have exterminated a confirmed kill of two hundred fifty dogs.

Their method of murdering the dogs, since they don’t have guns or atom bombs is to carry the dogs to high places and chuck them over.  Now this is systematic, so the monkeys have apparently evolved a plan, that is that they got together and communicated with each other.  In addition it is possible that the monkeys have also begun to kill human children.  Would it be possible to label these killings as race wars?

Not knowing the circumstances around the first killing I can’t confirm that the monkees reaction is justified.  Isn’t it possible that a monkey tried to steal the dogs’ food and the dog retaliated appropriately?  If true this would be an inter-species matter to be adjudicated in court.

The form of execution used by the monkeys struck me as odd.  They mainly attacked puppies.  If so this may indicate a genocidal war to exterminate dogs.  The Jews in WWII proposed to castrate all male Germans in a massive genocide.  But perhaps the monkeys have come up with a more devious plan.  That of killing off the younger generation, more easy kills for monkeys, thus leaving the older generation to slowly die off.  Are monkeys capable of devising such a plan and acting in unison?  Apparently so.  Having been quietly observing the behavior of humans for a few thousand years who knows what curiosities of behavior they may have ingested.

So, genocidal monkeys led my mind back to Wells’ novel The Food Of The Gods.  Wells was well up on evolutionary theory having studied under Thomas Huxley.  Wells hypothesized that the Gods introduced a super food that developed a new advanced human super species that upset the social balance much as has happened in modern times.

Those infants raised on the stuff, something like Bulwer-Lytton’s Vril from his novel The Coming Race, are exceptional in all ways, physical and mental with IQs off the scale.  This of course creates a problem because it makes the intelligence of all other races look stupid, stupid to the point of non-competitiveness.  Thus those who benefited from the food of the gods are not allowed to propagate, there won’t be room on the planet for all the races.  Quite clearly the losers of the contest will be the smaller less intelligent old races.

Genocide of the new race is the only solution.  Life does have its problems doesn’t it?  The story then concerns how the New Race can be protected because, after all, they are the most beneficent of Nature’s creatures, the most highly developed.  Humanity Fifth Gen.

As the story has it the Earth has been fully occupied.  In the old days the New Race could have moved away from anti-New Race settlements much as the Whites must obviously have done when they evolved from the Africans somewhen, as modern ideology would have it.  This situation then creates the debate of what to do.  Listen to Wells as the Superhumans discuss the issue.

Quote:

What then?  Will this little world of theirs be as it was before?  They may fight against greatness in us who are the children of men, but can they conquer?  Even if they should destroy us, every one, would it save them?  No!  For greatness is abroad not only in us, not only in the Food, but in the purpose of all things. [Evolution toward a goal.]  It is in the nature of all things; it is part of space and time.  To grow and still to grow; from first to last, that is Being, that is the law of life.  What other law can there be.”

“To help others?”

“To grow.  It is still, to grow.  Unless we help them to fail…”

“They will fight hard to over come us.” said a voice.

And another, “What of that?”

“They will fight,” said young Redwood.  “If we refuse these terms, I doubt not they will fight.  Indeed, I hope they will be open and fight, after all if they offer peace, it will be only be the better to catch us unawares.  Make no mistake Brothers, in some way or other they will fight.  The war has begun and we must fight to the end.  Unless we are wise, we may find presently to have lived only to make them better weapons against our children and our kind.  This, so far, has only been the dawn of the battle.  Some of us will be killed in battle, some of us will be waylaid.  There is no easy victory—no victory whatever that is not half defeat for us.  What of that?  If only we keep a foothold, if only we leave behind us a growing host to fight when we are gone!”

Unquote,

So, the problem of evolution is that the less evolved must disappear.  That is genocide to make room for Nature’s best.  That is evolution.  The monkeys may have realized that.  There is no room on this planet for both dogs and monkeys, say the monkeys.  The only good dog is a dead dog.  The dilemma plagues mankind.  There is no room on the planet for eight billion people consuming resources as fast as they can.  If we continue on at this pace resources will be consumed and mankind will collapse in on itself resulting in fierce race wars…unless the world collapses on us first.

Interestingly Wells inspired a mid-twentieth century writer by the name of John Wyndham who was writing away unsuccessfully until when rereading Wells he discovered that he could lift plot and all directly from Wells and by altering the details the stories would be unrecognizable to the casual reader who may not have read Wells thus having nothing to compare.  His first attempt was a major sci-fi success.  He called it The Day Of The Triffids  and that was a retelling of The War Of The Worlds.

Then he had a great idea.  By combining  The Day Of The Comet and The Food Of The Gods he had a terrific story.  This resulted in his novel The Midwich Cuckoos which, unfortunately was a wretched title.  The novel came off much better, and that’s saying a lot, in its movie version The Village Of The Damned.  Terrific movie.

In Comet Wells postulated that a comet passed through the Earth’s atmosphere [this was the time of the return of Halley’s Comet] trailing a green gas that enveloped the planet.  The gas was some sort of ether type gas that put everyone away for a few hours.  When the sleepers wakened it was a brand new world and the peoples of the Earth were transformed into virtually a new species and everything was…perfect.

Wyndham borrowed the gas bit from Comet so that in Midwich the women of child bearing age fainted for a spell and while unconscious invisible extraterrestrials impregnated them.  Sort of like a hypnotic drug.  When the women awoke they remembered nothing but all the women in Midwich were pregnant at the same moment so that their children were all born on the same day.  In their wombs were a generation of super intelligent tow heads [Great White Beasts] who might perhaps have been mistaken for Nazi’s at first glance.  Perhaps the movie The Boys From Brazil might have received some inspiration from Midwich.  In Boys, ten boys were boys were cloned from Hitler’s DNA.  That movie involved tracking the boys down and murdering them.  Sort of a variation on the idea of going back in time and murdering Hitler in the womb.

Wyndham then borrowed the gas bit from Comet so that certain women fainted for a spell and were impregnated by invisible extraterrestrials.  In Comet the women and men woke up to a world of free love.

I think you have an idea of the solution of the problem of the Towheads.  Yep.  Genocide.  These kids had to be exterminated lest they take over the world and eliminate all the rest.  There is no explanation of why this would be a bad thing.  Perhaps it would be an improvement.  Maybe they were peaceful extraterrestrials sent by Klaatu, if you’ve seen The Day The Earth Stood Still you will understand.

We’ll never know because their extinction was successful and total.    There had been three colonies.  One in Siberia, one in Australia and the one in Midwich.  The other two had been discovered and exterminated also.  It is now up to England, which has always welcomed fugitives from oppressed peoples, to protect the dumboes and destroy the super-intelligent.  Something like what’s happening in the US at the present time.

The easiest method would have been to off them in their sleep but, given a choice between the easy way and the hard way humans will always choose the hard way.  A teacher had been selected to make these small kids well informed, educated to post-PhD standards.

What to do?  A suicidal mission by Teach.  He loads his briefcase with dynamite which is a start.  The kid geniuses are not only intelligent but telepathic.  They can read minds.  Charlie, our teacher, determines on an expedient of imagining a brick wall.  He does, the students detect the wall and directing powerful beams from their eyes begin to demolish his mental wall. A brick flies out, then another, a small hole created, than a larger.  Too late.  The leader, perhaps modeled on Hitler, shouts “It’s a b….  One more successful genocide.  And thus the world was saved from intelligence and left for the dumbasses.

An excellent book it was a great movie.  Very memorable.  Rotten Bananas gives it 100%.  And I do too. My own recommendation for the world is to relax.  The world cannot possibly survive eight billion people and rising.  Even if we all are going to die the world will be left to…THE HAPPY FEW.

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