When H.G. Wells Foretold Twitter


When the Sleeper Wakes is a 1903 novel by H.G. Wells about a man who falls asleep for a few hundred years and awakes to find himself the richest man on earth. While most of its predictions were nonsensical, one seems pretty familiar.

Illustration from 1928 publication; source

Here's a passage where the Sleeper confronts the masses for the first time, taken from the Project Gutenberg Edition:

"You will be expected to say something," said Ostrog. "Not what you used to call a Speech, but what our people call a Word—just one sentence, six or seven words. Something formal. If I might suggest—'I have awakened and my heart is with you.' That is the sort of thing they want."

The novel was substantially re-written and published in definitive form as The Sleeper Wakes in 1910; I just happened to read this earlier version on Project Gutenberg without realizing it was something of a prototype. The story as a whole isn't incredibly interesting, but the opening events that lead up to the long sleep are bizarre and maybe worth a look. Just be warned that they stay completely unexplained, so reading the rest of the novel afterwards won't answer any questions you might have. Ψ