Saturday, September 15, 2007


The Island of Dr. Moreau was originally published in 1896. I had not previously read it, nor had I seen any of the several film versions, although I was familiar with the basic story. It has inspired untold variations on the "mad doctor tampers with the laws of nature" theme.

Wells does not really address the hard science of the story, but that really isn't a problem. Going back in time through literature, the "science" in science fiction operated in increasingly broad strokes.

The novel was not as engaging a read as I'd anticipated. One doesn't really feel much if any suspense, although that might have been a different story a hundred years ago.

However, the novel does stick in the mind, almost hauntingly, and causes one to think about some of its themes (beyond the obvious themes of eugenics, genetic engineering, and the ethics of medical research), particularly human nature and what it means to be human. The main character's reactions when he returns to human society are quite interesting.

On an interesting historical note, the publication of this novel coincided with a massive movement to abolish vivisection in Great Britain.

Ultimately, The Island of Dr. Moreau is an engaging read and one of the cornerstones of science fiction.