The New Accelerator
"The New Accelerator" is a 1901 science fiction short story by H. G. Wells. The story addresses the invention of an elixir that accelerates all of an individual's physiological and cognitive processes by some orders of magnitude, such that although the individual perceives no change in themselves, the external world appears almost frozen into immobility and only the motion of most rapidly moving objects - such as the tip of a cracked whip - can be perceived.
The exploration of the consequences of this is incomplete; for example, the inventor and his companion find that while under the influence of the elixir they can easily singe their clothing from the heat produced by friction against the air as they walk, such is the rapidity of their motion; but this same air friction would render it impossible to breathe at a correspondingly accelerated rate, and this difficulty is ignored.
The drug has considerable advantages as well as risks, drawing upon a trope present in other of Wells' literary works that describes the possibility of scientific discoveries to be both a blessing and a curse.
"The New Accelerator" was adapted for the first episode of the 2001 miniseries, The Infinite Worlds of H. G. Wells.
- Best, Steven, and Douglas Kellner: "H. G. Wells, Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering: A Dystopic Future."
- Complete text of "The New Accelerator" from ClassicReader
- The New Accelerator title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database