This short and lesser-known story, published in August 1894 in the London weekly The Pall Mall Budget, by a visionary and well-prepared young man.
H. G. Wells shows us how the dream of recreating in the laboratory the most incredible of materials, already existed for centuries: we are talking about diamonds. The writer portrays here, almost autobiographically, a researcher trying to sell to a stranger, the diamonds he created, as a result of many years of study, experimentation and hardship.
The protagonist is a true modern demiurge, guided by science, who fights with the adversities and prejudices of ordinary people, anchored to alchemical legacies, unable to believe that somebody has managed to discover the new philosopher’s stone capable of transforming coal, the symbol of poverty and degradation, in the most precious and bright of all crystals.
H. G. Wells (1866 – 1946), a short biography
The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, Dr. Moreau’s Island are certainly H.G Wells best-known works. Works that made him one of the fathers of the science fiction genre together with J. Verne and Hugo Gernsback. Wells was a visionary able to foresee the importance of aircraft and space travel, to predict the outbreak of World War II and the use of the atomic bomb since 1913 and, as described in this story, to anticipate the synthesis of diamond. He understood the importance of telecommunications and the possibility to communicate remotely over a network, practically prophesying the creation of the World Wide Web.
Born in a suburb of London, he has always been connected to this city. He came from a modest family, but with solid principles, this contributed to his equality vision which, at an advanced age, determined him more and more to deal with the problems of society and less to the writings that made him famous.
He was a passionate biologist and he had one of Darwin’s disciples as his teacher. He wrote many popular science texts, and his training allowed him to describe in detail the innovations introduced in his novels, something that can be seen very well in this short story. He was obsessed with diseases, his sister died young and he contracted tuberculosis. We see this obsession expressed positively in his most famous work, The War of the Worlds, where, at the end, Martian invaders are exterminated by bacteria. It is interesting to note how this work, written in 1897, gave rise to several films, but certainly the 1938 radio broadcast of Orson Welles had the greatest impact. The radio adaptation of the novel was so realistic that many listeners honestly believed in a Martian invasion and panicked.
Finally, it should be recalled that his ideas on human rights were taken up in 1948 by the ONU in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.