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intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic

September 21st, 2009

I was jazzed to learn that the recent spate of saucer-themed Google “doodles” and coded messages were a tip of the hat to H. G. Wells. From the Google blog:

Now, we’re finally acknowledging the reason for the doodles with an official nod to Herbert George, who would be 143 years old today.

Inspiration for innovation in technology and design can come from lots of places; we wanted to celebrate H.G. Wells as an author who encouraged fantastical thinking about what is possible, on this planet and beyond. And maybe have some fun while we were doing it.

I’ve always thought that it would be almost impossible to improve upon the first paragraph of War of The Worlds:

No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.

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  1. September 22nd, 2009 at 20:12 | #1

    In the early years of the 21st century, the pace of life has quickened even more and so we busy ourselves about our various concerns. And the silence from the sky remains deafening…

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