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  • Published: 19 October 2021
  • ISBN: 9780262542562
  • Imprint: MIT Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 176
  • RRP: $41.99

World Brain



In 1937, H. G. Wells proposed a predigital, freely available World Encyclopedia to represent a civilization-saving World Brain.

In a series of talks and essays in 1937, H. G. Wells proselytized for what he called a "World Brain," as manifested in a World Encyclopedia--a repository of scientifically established knowledge--that would spread enlightenment around the world and lead to world peace. Wells, known to readers today as the author of The War of the Worlds and other science fiction classics, was imagining something like a predigital Wikipedia. The World Encyclopedia would provide a summary of verified reality (in about forty volumes); it would be widely available, free of copyright, and utilize the latest technology.

Of course, as Bruce Sterling points out in the foreword to this edition of Wells's work, the World Brain didn't happen; the internet did. And yet, Wells anticipated aspects of the internet, envisioning the World Brain as a technical system of networked knowledge (in Sterling's words, a "hypothetical super-gadget"). Wells's optimism about the power of information might strike readers today as naïvely utopian, but possibly also inspirational.

  • Published: 19 October 2021
  • ISBN: 9780262542562
  • Imprint: MIT Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 176
  • RRP: $41.99

About the author

H.G. Wells

H.G. Wells was born in Bromley, Kent, in 1866. After an education repeatedly interrupted by his family’s financial problems, he eventually found work as a teacher at a succession of schools, where he began to write his first stories.
Wells became a prolific writer with a diverse output, of which the famous works are his science fiction novels. These are some of the earliest and most influential examples of the genre, and include classics such as The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds. Most of his books very well-received, and had a huge influence on many younger writers, including George Orwell and Isaac Asimov. Wells also wrote many popular non-fiction books, and used his writing to support the wide range of political and social causes in which he had an interest, although these became increasingly eccentric towards the end of his life.
Twice-married, Wells had many affairs, including a ten-year liaison with Rebecca West that produced a son. He died in London in 1946.

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