A Story of the Days to Come

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"A Story of Days To Come"
Author H. G. Wells
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Science fiction
Published in The Pall Mall Magazine
Media type Print (Magazine)
Publication date June–October 1897

"A Story of the Days To Come" is a novella by H. G. Wells comprising five chapters that was first published in the June to October 1897 issues of The Pall Mall Magazine. It was later included in an 1899 collection of Wells's short stories, Tales of Space and Time.

The chapter titles are:

  • "The Cure for Love"
  • "The Vacant Country"
  • "The Ways of the City"
  • "Underneath"
  • "Bindon Intervenes"

The novella depicts two lovers in a dystopian future London of the 22nd century. They explore the implications of excessive urbanization, class warfare, and advances in the technology of medicine, communication, transportation, and agriculture. Like "When the Sleeper Wakes", published in the same year, the stories extrapolate the trends Wells observed in nineteenth-century Victorian London two hundred years into the future.

The London of the early 22nd century is over 30 million people in population, with the lower classes living in subterranean dwellings, and the middle and upper classes living in skyscrapers and largely communal accommodations. Moving walkways interconnect the city, with fast air-travel and superhighways available between cities. The countryside is largely abandoned.

Plot summary[edit]

A wealthy heiress falls in love with a middle-class worker of romantically quaint disposition. In part one, the woman's father hires a hypnotist to program his daughter to instead choose a more appropriate suitor selected by him. When that plot is unraveled, the couple secretly marry and flee into the abandoned countryside and attempt to live off the land. After being driven back into the city, the couple live a modest middle-class lifestyle until their money runs out. At that point, they move to the "underneath" area of London to toil in physical labor as lower-class workers. Finally, their issues are resolved through the machinations of her spurned would-be suitor, and they resume a middle-class lifestyle.

Among other things, this short story appears to anticipate technical developments toward massive urbanization, skyscrapers, moving sidewalks, superhighways, and intercontinental aircraft traveling at jet speeds.

Socially and economically, however, it predicts a very stratified class structure and a largely communistic society where few mega-corporations control all means of production. It also predicts hypnosis as a supplement or replacement to psychology, "creches" where child-rearing is transferred from parents to professionals, and a megapolis served by city-wide moving walkways and escalators, with enormous cities (four in England) separated by abandoned countryside.

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