The Scientific
Romance and the
Evolutionary Paradigm
By: Roger Luckhurst
Roger Luckhurst
He is a professor of modern and
contemporary literature at Birkbeck
University of London.
He published The Invention of Telepathy,
Co-edited The Fin de Siècle.
Major Points
“Wells was to forge a scientized framework for his
fiction and political writings and the evolutionary
paradigm that dominated the English scientific
romance before, and to some extent after, 1945.
(Luckhurst, 253)
The fusion of biological science and masculine
romance, propounded by Andrew Lang and Rider
Haggard, was directly borrowed by Wells from the
writer Grant Allen. (Luckhurst, 253)
Grant Allen
Grant Allen (continued)
Privately funded the publication of his first book, Physiological
Allen opened up the field for Wells’ scientific romances.
Many people didn’t agree with it either, people believed that if
you were going to write science fiction then keep it to science
fiction and don’t incorporate romances.
Allen then turned to daily journalism before his health pushed
him into professional freelance journalism from 1880. From
then on until his death in 1899.
Allen produced a mass body of reviews, essays, scientific
journalism, anthropological monographs, Spencerian
speculations, short stories, Realist novels, detective fiction and
Gothic shilling shockers, etc.
Herbert Spencer
Herbert Spencer (continued)
The advancement of Herbert Spencer’s
grand plan was to synthesize all human
knowledge into a developmental schema.
Herbert Spencer came up with the idea of
natural selection and survival of the fittest.
Nicholas Ruddick’s view
“Allen opened up the field for Wells’
scientific romances.” (Luckhurst 253)
Edward Clodd
Clodd said, “Allen had been contemptuous
of the fiction markets for which he wrote,
and abandoned all pretence at serious art
after the failure of his three-volume novel
Philistia in 1884.
Further Vision
“But the ‘Further Vision’ embraces genuine
evolutionary time by conceiving of a post
human future.” (Luckhurst, 255)
“Wells exploits the suggestive brevity of the
romance form to evoke the radical
difference of the future, yet does so from
strict scientific premises.” (Luckhurst, 255)
What is a Paradigm?
a. a set of forms all of which contain a particular
element, esp. the set of all inflected forms based on a
single stem or theme.
1. an example serving as a model; pattern.
2. mold, standard; ideal, paragon, touchstone
The Travelers first theory was when he
watched the sunset.
The second theory is sustained progress
towards a Utopia of Communism, gender
equality and sexual differentiation.
The Traveler commits to Spencerian
dogma of human striving and restless
intellectual by saying it is a biological
imperative for the utopia.
Paradigm (continued)
Edward Bellamy (writer of Looking
Backward), stated that technological
progress would end labor strife and cause
un-alienated communality by the year 2000.
“Such Elisions seem to make biology an
overmastering motive knowledge”
The Travelers Visions of Utopia
“The Time Traveler compares himself to a
bewildered African”. (Wells 34)
This showed that it was a sign that the
anchor was uprooted and the traveler finds
savage energy for the struggle to survive as
human descendants in the form of Morlocks
without peace.
The Eloi had lack of intelligence and
descended down the evolutionary ladder as
the Morlocks became monstrous in a typical
form of fin de Siècle. This gave further
evidence that the Eloi were now the
oppressed prey of their own servants.
The Traveler was torn between siding with
the Eloi and longing to identify with the
Final Quote
“The Traveler only sketches his moralistic
degenerationism on to the cosmos making
the end of the world a rather local, late
Victorian affair. It is a view the frame
narrator encourages us to discard ‘Live as
though it was not so’.” (Wells 71)

The Scientific Romance and the Evolutionary Paradigm