Atomic Bombs in 1914


You probably wouldn’t expect to see the words “atomic bombs” in the newspaper a hundred years ago, but here they are, as they appeared in the Willmar (Minn.) Tribune a hundred years ago today, November 4, 1914.

H.G. Wells (Wikipedia photo.)

H.G. Wells (Wikipedia photo.)

This actually isn’t a news story. It’s part of the serialized novel The World Set Free by H.G. Wells.

By the time the book was published, the war in Europe was well underway. Wells predicted it, but he saw it as not taking place until 1956. He did correctly predict that by that time, the combatants would be equipped with “atomic bombs.” The bombs in Wells’ book did use nuclear reactions, but he got some of the details wrong. Instead of releasing all of their energy in an instant, Wells’ versions continued to ignite for months or years, leaving much of Europe uninhabitable.  The previous peaceful use of atomic energy in the book had consisted of small amounts of the reaction material, the fictional element “carolinum,” used to power vehicles and machinery.

In the aftermath of Wells’ war, the people of the world united into a utopian one-world government. On the one hand, the new world government renounced monarchy. But on the other hand, the new government was presided over by the former kings, with the King of England at the helm of the new benevolent dictatorship.

If you don’t like plodding through old newspaper clippings, the entire novel is available as a paperback. It’s also available for free as a Kindle book. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the free Kindle reader app. It’s also available for free download at Google Books.

Other Books by H.G. Wells at Amazon

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