View Full Version : First Men in the Moon, The - Herbert George Wells

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06-01-2007, 11:59 PM
Chapter 24 - The Natural History of the Selenites

THE messages of Cavor from the sixth up to the sixteenth are for the most
part so much broken, and they abound so in repetitions, that they scarcely
form a consecutive narrative. They will be given in full, of course, in
the scientific report, but here it will be far more convenient to continue
simply to abstract and quote as in the former chapter. We have subjected
every word to a keen critical scrutiny, and my own brief memories and
impressions of lunar things have been of inestimable help in interpreting
what would otherwise have been impenetrably dark. And, naturally, as
living beings, our interest centres far more upon the strange community of
lunar insects in which he was living, it would seem, as an honoured guest
than upon the mere physical condition of their world.

I have already made it clear, I think, that the Selenites I saw resembled
man in maintaining the erect attitude, and in having four limbs, and I
have compared the general appearance of their heads and the jointing of
their limbs to that of insects. I have mentioned, too, the peculiar
consequence of the smaller gravitation of the moon on their fragile
slightness. Cavor confirms me upon all these points. He calls them
"animals," though of course they fall under no division of the
classification of earthly creatures, and he points out "the insect type of
anatomy had, fortunately for men, never exceeded a relatively very small
size on earth." The largest terrestrial insects, living or extinct, do
not, as a matter of fact, measure 6 in. in length; "but here, against the
lesser gravitation of the moon, a creature certainly as much an insect as
vertebrate seems to have been able to attain to human and ultra-human

He does not mention the ant, but throughout his allusions the ant is
continually being brought before my mind, in its sleepless activity, in
its intelligence and social organisation, in its structure, and more
particularly in the fact that it displays, in addition to the two forms,
the male and the female form, that almost all other animals possess, a
number of other sexless creatures, workers, soldiers, and the like,
differing from one another in structure, character, power, and use, and
yet all members of the same species. For these Selenites, also, have a
great variety of forms. Of course, they are not only colossally greater in
size than ants, but also, in Cavor's opinion at least, in intelligence,
morality, and social wisdom are they colossally greater than men. And
instead of the four or five different forms of ant that are found, there
are almost innumerably different forms of Selenite. I had endeavoured to
indicate the very considerable difference observable in such Selenites of
the outer crust as I happened to encounter; the differences in size and
proportions were certainly as wide as the differences between the most
widely separated races of men. But such differences as I saw fade
absolutely to nothing in comparison with the huge distinctions of which
Cavor tells. It would seem the exterior Selenites I saw were, indeed,
mostly engaged in kindred occupations - mooncalf herds, butchers,
fleshers, and the like. But within the moon, practically unsuspected by
me, there are, it seems, a number of other sorts of Selenite, differing in
size, differing in the relative size of part to part, differing in power
and appearance, and yet not different species of creatures, but only
different forms of one species, and retaining through all their variations
a certain common likeness that marks their specific unity. The moon is,
indeed, a sort of vast ant-hill, only, instead of there being only four or
five sorts of ant, there are many hundred different sorts of Selenite, and
almost every gradation between one sort and another.

It would seem the discovery came upon Cavor very speedily. I infer rather
than learn from his narrative that he was captured by the mooncalf herds
under the direction of these other Selenites who "have larger brain cases
(heads?) and very much shorter legs." Finding he would not walk even under
the goad, they carried him into darkness, crossed a narrow, plank-like
bridge that may have been the identical bridge I had refused, and put him
down in something that must have seemed at first to be some sort of lift.
This was the balloon - it had certainly been absolutely invisible to us in
the darkness - and what had seemed to me a mere plank-walking into the
void was really, no doubt, the passage of the gangway. In this he
descended towards constantly more luminous caverns of the moon. At first
they descended in silence - save for the twitterings of the Selenites -
and then into a stir of windy movement. In a little while the profound
blackness had made his eyes so sensitive that he began to see more and
more of the things about him, and at last the vague took shape.

"Conceive an enormous cylindrical space," says Cavor, in his seventh
message, " a quarter of a mile across, perhaps; very dimly lit at first
and then brighter, with big platforms twisting down its sides in a spiral
that vanishes at last below in a blue profundity; and lit even more
brightly - one could not tell how or why. Think of the well of the very
largest spiral staircase or lift-shaft that you have ever looked down, and
magnify that by a hundred. Imagine it at twilight seen through blue glass.
Imagine yourself looking down that; only imagine also that you feel
extraordinarily light, and have got rid of any giddy feeling you might
have on earth, and you will have the first conditions of my impression.
Round this enormous shaft imagine a broad gallery running in a much
steeper spiral than would be credible on earth, and forming a steep road
protected from the gulf only by a little parapet that vanishes at last in
perspective a couple of miles below.

"Looking up, I saw the very fellow of the downward vision; it had, of
course, the effect of looking into a very steep cone. A wind was blowing
down the shaft, and far above I fancy I heard, growing fainter and
fainter, the bellowing of the mooncalves that were being driven down again
from their evening pasturage on the exterior. And up and down the spiral
galleries were scattered numerous moon people, pallid, faintly luminous
beings, regarding our appearance or busied on unknown errands.

"Either I fancied it or a flake of snow came drifting down on the icy
breeze. And then, falling like a snowflake, a little figure, a little
man-insect, clinging to a parachute, drove down very swiftly towards the
central places of the moon.

"The big-headed Selenite sitting beside me, seeing me move my head with
the gesture of one who saw, pointed with his trunk-like 'hand' and
indicated a sort of jetty coming into sight very far below: a little
landing-stage, as it were, hanging into the void. As it swept up towards
us our pace diminished very rapidly, and in a few moments, as it seemed,
we were abreast of it, and at rest. A mooring-rope was flung and grasped,
and I found myself pulled down to a level with a great crowd of Selenites,
who jostled to see me.

"It was an incredible crowd. Suddenly and violently there was forced upon
my attention the vast amount of difference there is amongst these beings
of the moon.

"Indeed, there seemed not two alike in all that jostling multitude. They
differed in shape, they differed in size, they rang all the horrible
changes on the theme of Selenite form! Some bulged and overhung, some ran
about among the feet of their fellows. All of them had a grotesque and
disquieting suggestion of an insect that has somehow contrived to mock
humanity; but all seemed to present an incredible exaggeration of some
particular feature: one had a vast right fore-limb, an enormous antennal
arm, as it were; one seemed all leg, poised, as it were, on stilts;
another protruded the edge of his face mask into a nose-like organ that
made him startlingly human until one saw his expressionless gaping mouth.
The strange and (except for the want of mandibles and palps) most
insect-like head of the mooncalf-minders underwent, indeed, the most
incredible transformations: here it was broad and low, here high and
narrow; here its leathery brow was drawn out into horns and strange
features; here it was whiskered and divided, and there with a grotesquely
human profile. One distortion was particularly conspicuous. There were
several brain cases distended like bladders to a huge size, with the face
mask reduced to quite small proportions. There were several amazing forms,
with heads reduced to microscopic proportions and blobby bodies; and
fantastic, flimsy things that existed, it would seem, only as a basis for
vast, trumpet-like protrusions of the lower part of the mask. And oddest
of all, as it seemed to me for the moment, two or three of these weird
inhabitants of a subterranean world, a world sheltered by innumerable
miles of rock from sun or rain, carried umbrellas in their tentaculate
hands - real terrestrial looking umbrellas! And then I thought of the
parachutist I had watched descend.

"These moon people behaved exactly as a human crowd might have done in
similar circumstances: they jostled and thrust one another, they shoved
one another aside, they even clambered upon one another to get a glimpse
of me. Every moment they increased in numbers, and pressed more urgently
upon the discs of my ushers" - Cavor does not explain what he means by
this - "every moment fresh shapes emerged from the shadows and forced
themselves upon my astounded attention. And presently I was signed and
helped into a sort of litter, and lifted up on the shoulders of
strong-armed bearers, and so borne through the twilight over this seething
multitude towards the apartments that were provided for me in the moon.
All about me were eyes, faces, masks, a leathery noise like the rustling
of beetle wings, and a great bleating and cricket-like twittering of
Selenite voices.

We gather he was taken to a "hexagonal apartment," and there for a space
he was confined. Afterwards he was given a much more considerable liberty;
indeed, almost as much freedom as one has in a civilised town on earth.
And it would appear that the mysterious being who is the ruler and master
of the moon appointed two Selenites "with large heads" to guard and study
him, and to establish whatever mental communications were possible with
him. And, amazing and incredible as it may seem, these two creatures,
these fantastic men insects, these beings of other world, were presently
communicating with Cavor by means of terrestrial speech.

Cavor speaks of them as Phi-oo and Tsi-puff. Phi-oo, he says, was about 5
ft. high; he had small slender legs about 18 in. long, and slight feet of
the common lunar pattern. On these balanced a little body, throbbing with
the pulsations of his heart. He had long, soft, many-jointed arms ending
in a tentacled grip, and his neck was many-jointed in the usual way, but
exceptionally short and thick. His head, says Cavor - apparently alluding
to some previous description that has gone astray in space - "is of the
common lunar type, but strangely modified. The mouth has the usual
expressionless gape, but it is unusually small and pointing downward, and
the mask is reduced to the size of a large flat nose-flap. On either side
are the little eyes.

"The rest of the head is distended into a huge globe and the chitinous
leathery cuticle of the mooncalf herds thins out to a mere membrane,
through which the pulsating brain movements are distinctly visible. He in
is a creature, indeed, with a tremendously hypertrophied brain, and with
the rest of his organism both relatively and absolutely dwarfed."

In another passage Cavor compares the back view of him to Atlas supporting
the world. Tsi-puff it seems was a very similar insect, but his "face" was
drawn out to a considerable length, and the brain hypertrophy being in
different regions, his head was not round but pear-shaped, with the stalk
downward. There were also litter-carriers, lopsided beings, with enormous
shoulders, very spidery ushers, and a squat foot attendant in Cavor's

The manner in which Phi-oo and Tsi-puff attacked the problem of speech was
fairly obvious. They came into this " hexagonal cell" in which Cavor was
confined, and began imitating every sound he made, beginning with a cough.
He seems to have grasped their intention with great quickness, and to have
begun repeating words to them and pointing to indicate the application.
The procedure was probably always the same. Phi-oo would attend to Cavor
for a space, then point also and say the word he had heard.

The first word he mastered was "man," and the second "Mooney" - which
Cavor on the spur of the moment seems to have used instead of "Selenite"
for the moon race. As soon as Phi-oo was assured of the meaning of a word
he repeated it to Tsi-puff, who remembered it infallibly. They mastered
over one hundred English nouns at their first session.

Subsequently it seems they brought an artist with them to assist the work
of explanation with sketches and diagrams - Cavor's drawings being rather
crude. he was, says Cavor, "a being with an active arm and an arresting
eye," and he seemed to draw with incredible swiftness.

The eleventh message is undoubtedly only a fragment of a longer
communication. After some broken sentences, the record of which is
unintelligible, it goes on:-

"But it will interest only linguists, and delay me too long, to give the
details of the series of intent parleys of which these were the beginning,
and, indeed, I very much doubt if I could give in anything like the proper
order all the twistings and turnings that we made in our pursuit of mutual
comprehension. Verbs were soon plain sailing - at least, such active verbs
as I could express by drawings; some adjectives were easy, but when it
came to abstract nouns, to prepositions, and the sort of hackneyed figures
of speech, by means of which so much is expressed on earth, it was like
diving in cork-jackets. Indeed, these difficulties were insurmountable
until to the sixth lesson came a fourth assistant, a being with a huge
football-shaped head, whose forte was clearly the pursuit of intricate
analogy. He entered in a preoccupied manner, stumbling against a stool,
and the difficulties that arose had to be presented to him with a certain
amount of clamour and hitting and pricking before they reached his
apprehension. But once he was involved his penetration was amazing.
Whenever there came a need of thinking beyond Phi-oo's by no means limited
scope, this prolate-headed person was in request, but he invariably told
the conclusion to Tsi-puff, in order that it might be remembered; Tsi-puff
was ever the arsenal for facts. And so we advanced again.

"It seemed long and yet brief - a matter of days - before I was positively
talking with these insects of the moon. Of course, at first it was an
intercourse infinitely tedious and exasperating, but imperceptibly it has
grown to comprehension. And my patience has grown to meet its limitations,
Phi-oo it is who does all the talking. He does it with a vast amount of
meditative provisional 'M'm-M'm' and has caught up one or two phrases, 'If
I may say,' 'If you understand,' and beads all his speech with them.

"Thus he would discourse. Imagine him explaining his artist.

"'M'm-M'm - he - if I may say - draw. Eat little - drink little - draw.
Love draw. No other thing. Hate all who not draw like him. Angry. Hate all
who draw like him better. Hate most people. Hate all who not think all
world for to draw. Angry. M'm. All things mean nothing to him - only draw.
He like you... if you understand.... New thing to draw. Ugly - striking.

"'He' - turning to Tsi-puff - 'love remember words. Remember wonderful
more than any. Think no, draw no - remember. Say' - here he referred to
his gifted assistant for a word - 'histories - all things. He hear once -
say ever.'

"It is more wonderful to me than I dreamt that anything ever could be
again, to hear, in this perpetual obscurity, these extraordinary creatures
- for even familiarity fails to weaken the inhuman effect of their
appearance - continually piping a nearer approach to coherent earthly
speech - asking questions, giving answers. I feel that I am casting back
to the fable-hearing period of childhood again, when the ant and the
grasshopper talked together and the bee judged between them..."

And while these linguistic exercises were going on Cavor seems to have
experienced a considerable relaxation of his confinement. "The first dread
and distrust our unfortunate conflict aroused is being," he said,
"continually effaced by the deliberate rationality of all I do."... "I am
now able to come and go as I please, or I am restricted only for my own
good. So it is I have been able to get at this apparatus, and, assisted
by a happy find among the material that is littered in this enormous
store-cave, I have contrived to despatch these messages. So far not the
slightest attempt has been made to interfere with me in this, though I
have made it quite clear to Phi-oo that I am signalling to the earth.

"'You talk to other?' he asked, watching me.

"'Others,' said I.

"'Others,' he said. 'Oh yes, Men?'

"And I went on transmitting."

Cavor was continually making corrections in his previous accounts of the
Selenites as fresh facts flowed upon him to modify his conclusions, and
accordingly one gives the quotations that follow with a certain amount of
reservation. They are quoted from the ninth, thirteenth, and sixteenth
messages, and, altogether vague and fragmentary as they are, they probably
give as complete a picture of the social life of this strange community as
mankind can now hope to have for many generations.

"In the moon," says Cavor, "every citizen knows his place. He is born to
that place, and the elaborate discipline of training and education and
surgery he undergoes fits him at last so completely to it that he has
neither ideas nor organs for any purpose beyond it. 'Why should he?'
Phi-oo would ask. If, for example, a Selenite is destined to be a
mathematician, his teachers and trainers set out at once to that end. They
check any incipient disposition to other pursuits, they encourage his
mathematical bias with a perfect psychological skill. His brain grows, or
at least the mathematical faculties of his brain grow, and the rest of him
only so much as is necessary to sustain this essential part of him. At
last, save for rest and food, his one delight lies in the exercise and
display of his facility, his one interest in its application, his sole
society with other specialists in his own line. His brain glows
continually larger, at least so far as the portions engaging in
mathematics are concerned; they bulge ever larger and seem to suck all
life and vigour from the rest of his frame. His limbs shrivel, his heart
and digestive organs diminish, his insect face is hidden under its bulging
contours. His voice becomes a mere stridulation for the stating of
formula; he seems deaf to all but properly enunciated problems. The
faculty of laughter, save for the sudden discovery of some paradox, is
lost to him; his deepest emotion is the evolution of a novel computation.
And so he attains his end.

"Or, again, a Selenite appointed to be a minder of mooncalves is from his
earliest years induced to think and live mooncalf, to find his pleasure in
mooncalf lore, his exercise in their tending and pursuit. He is trained to
become wiry and active, his eye is indurated to the tight wrappings, the
angular contours that constitute a 'smart mooncalfishness.' He takes at
last no interest in the deeper part of the moon; he regards all Selenites
not equally versed in mooncalves with indifference, derision, or
hostility. His thoughts are of mooncalf pastures, and his dialect an
accomplished mooncalf technique. So also he loves his work, and discharges
in perfect happiness the duty that justifies his being. And so it is with
all sorts and conditions of Selenites - each is a perfect unit in a world

"These beings with big heads, on whom the intellectual labours fall, form
a sort of aristocracy in this strange society, and at the head of them,
quintessential of the moon, is that marvellous gigantic ganglion the Grand
Lunar, into whose presence I am finally to come. The unlimited development
of the minds of the intellectual class is rendered possible by the absence
of any body skull in the lunar anatomy, that strange box of bone that
clamps about the developing brain of man, imperiously insisting 'thus far
and no farther' to all his possibilities. They fall into three main
classes differing greatly in influence and respect. There are
administrators, of whom Phi-oo is one, Selenites of considerable
initiative and versatility, responsible each for a certain cubic content
of the moon's bulk; the experts like the football-headed thinker, who are
trained to perform certain special operations; and the erudite, who are
the repositories of all knowledge. To the latter class belongs Tsi-puff,
the first lunar professor of terrestrial languages. With regard to these
latter, it is a curious little thing to note that the unlimited growth of
the lunar brain has rendered unnecessary the invention of all those
mechanical aids to brain work which have distinguished the career of man.
There are no books, no records of any sort, no libraries or inscriptions.
All knowledge is stored in distended brains much as the honey-ants of
Texas store honey in their distended abdomens. The lunar Somerset House
and the lunar British Museum Library are collections of living brains...

"The less specialised administrators, I note, do for the most part take a
very lively interest in me whenever they encounter me. They will come out
of the way and stare at me and ask questions to which Phi-oo will reply. I
see them going hither and thither with a retinue of bearers, attendants,
shouters, parachute-carriers, and so forth - queer groups to see. The
experts for the most part ignore me completely, even as they ignore each
other, or notice me only to begin a clamorous exhibition of their
distinctive skill. The erudite for the most part are rapt in an impervious
and apoplectic complacency, from which only a denial of their erudition
can rouse them. Usually they are led about by little watchers and
attendants, and often there are small and active-looking creatures, small
females usually, that I am inclined to think are a sort of wife to them;
but some of the profounder scholars are altogether too great for
locomotion, and are carried from place to place in a sort of sedan tub,
wabbling jellies of knowledge that enlist my respectful astonishment. I
have just passed one in coming to this place where I am permitted to amuse
myself with these electrical toys, a vast, shaven, shaky head, bald and
thin-skinned, carried on his grotesque stretcher. In front and behind came
his bearers, and curious, almost trumpet-faced, news disseminators
shrieked his fame.

"I have already mentioned the retinues that accompany most of the
intellectuals: ushers, bearers, valets, extraneous tentacles and muscles,
as it were, to replace the abortive physical powers of these hypertrophied
minds. Porters almost invariably accompany them. There are also extremely
swift messengers with spider-like legs and 'hands' for grasping
parachutes, and attendants with vocal organs that could well nigh wake the
dead. Apart from their controlling intelligence these subordinates are as
inert and helpless as umbrellas in a stand. They exist only in relation to
the orders they have to obey, the duties they have to perform.

"The bulk of these insects, however, who go to and fro upon the spiral
ways, who fill the ascending balloons and drop past me clinging to flimsy
parachutes are, I gather, of the operative class. 'Machine hands,' indeed,
some of these are in actual nature - it is not figure of speech, the
single tentacle of the mooncalf herd is profoundly modified for clawing,
lifting, guiding, the rest of them no more than necessary subordinate
appendages to these important mechanisms, have enormously developed
auditory organs; some whose work lies in delicate chemical operations
project a vast olfactory organ; others again have flat feet for treadles
with anchylosed joints; and others - who I have been told are glassblowers
- seem mere lung-bellows. but every one of these common Selenites I have
seen at work is exquisitely adapted to the social need it meets. Fine work
is done by fined-down workers, amazingly dwarfed and neat. Some I could
hold on the palm of my hand. There is even a sort of turnspit Selenite,
very common, whose duty and only delight it is to apply the motive power
for various small appliances. And to rule over these things and order any
erring tendency there might be in some aberrant natures are the most
muscular beings I have seen in the moon, a sort of lunar police, who must
have been trained from their earliest years to give a perfect respect and
obedience to the swollen heads.

"The making of these various sorts of operative must be a very curious and
interesting process. I am very much in the dark about it, but quite
recently I came upon a number of young Selenites confined in jars from
which only the fore-limbs protruded, who were being compressed to become
machine-minders of a special sort. The extended 'hand' in this highly
developed system of technical education is stimulated by irritants and
nourished by injection, while the rest of the body is starved. Phi-oo,
unless I misunderstood him, explained that in the earlier stages these
queer little creatures are apt to display signs of suffering in their
various cramped situations, but they easily become indurated to their lot;
and he took me on to where a number of flexible-minded messengers were
being drawn out and broken in. It is quite unreasonable, I know, but such
glimpses of the educational methods of these beings affect me
disagreeably. I hope, however, that may pass off, and I may be able to
see more of this aspect of their wonderful social order. That
wretched-looking hand-tentacle sticking out of its jar seemed to have a
sort of limp appeal for lost possibilities; it haunts me still, although,
of course it is really in the end a far more humane proceeding than our
earthly method of leaving children to grow into human beings, and then
making machines of them.

"Quite recently, too - I think it was on the eleventh or twelfth visit I
made to this apparatus - I had a curious light upon the lives of these
operatives. I was being guided through a short cut hither, instead of
going down the spiral, and by the quays to the Central Sea. From the
devious windings of a long, dark gallery, we emerged into a vast, low
cavern, pervaded by an earthy smell, and as things go in this darkness,
rather brightly lit. The light came from a tumultuous growth of livid
fungoid shapes - some indeed singularly like our terrestrial mushrooms,
but standing as high or higher than a man.

"'Mooneys eat these?' said I to Phi-oo.

"'Yes, food.'

"'Goodness me!' I cried; 'what's that?'

"My eye had just caught the figure of an exceptionally big and ungainly
Selenite lying motionless among the stems, face downward. We stopped.

"'Dead?' I asked. (For as yet I have seen no dead the moon, and I have
grown curious.)

"'No! ' exclaimed Phi-oo. 'Him - worker - no work to do. Get little drink
then - make sleep - till we him want. What good him wake, eh? No want him
walking about.'

"'There's another!' cried I.

"And indeed all that huge extent of mushroom ground was, I found, peppered
with these prostrate figures sleeping under an opiate until the moon had
need of them. There were scores of them of all sorts, and we were able to
turn over some of them, and examine them more precisely than I had been
able to previously. They breathed noisily at my doing so, but did not
wake. One, I remember very distinctly: he left a strong impression, I
think, because some trick the light and of his attitude was strongly
suggestive a drawn-up human figure. His fore-limbs were long, delicate
tentacles - he was some kind of refined manipulator - and the pose of his
slumber suggested a submissive suffering. No doubt it was a mistake for to
interpret his expression in that way, but I did. And as Phi-oo rolled him
over into the darkness among the livid fleshiness again I felt a
distinctly unpleasant sensation, although as he rolled the insect in him
was confessed.

"It simply illustrates the unthinking way in which one acquires habits of
feeling. To drug the worker one does not want and toss him aside is surely
far better than to expel him from his factory to wander starving in the
streets. In every complicated social community there is necessarily a
certain intermittency of employment for all specialised labour, and in
this way the trouble of an 'unemployed' problem is altogether anticipated.
And yet, so unreasonable are even scientifically trained minds, I still do
not like the memory of those prostrate forms amidst those quiet, luminous
arcades of fleshy growth, and I avoid that short cut in spite of the
inconveniences of the longer, more noisy, and more crowded alternative.

"My alternative route takes me round by a huge, shadowy cavern, very
crowded and clamorous, and here it is I see peering out of the hexagonal
openings of a sort of honeycomb wall, or parading a large open space
behind, 01 selecting the toys and amulets made to please them by the
dainty-tentacled jewellers who work in kennels below, the mothers of the
moon world - the queen bees, as it were, of the hive. They are
noble-looking beings, fantastically and sometimes quite beautifully
adorned, with a proud carriage, and, save for their mouths, almost
microscopic heads.

"Of the condition of the moon sexes, marrying and giving in marriage, and
of birth and so forth among the Selenites, I have as yet been able to
learn very little. With the steady progress of Phi-oo in English, however,
my ignorance will no doubt as steadily disappear. I am of opinion that, as
with the ants and bees, there is a large majority of the members in this
community of the neuter sex. Of course on earth in our cities there are
now many who never live that life of parentage which is the natural life
of man. Here, as with the ants, this thing has become a normal condition
of the race, and the whole of such eplacement as is necessary falls upon
this special and by no means numerous class of matrons, the mothers of the
moon-world, large and stately beings beautifully fitted to bear the larval
Selenite. Unless I misunderstand an explanation of Phi-oo's, they are
absolutely incapable of cherishing the young they bring into the moon;
periods of foolish indulgence alternate with moods of aggressive violence,
and as soon as possible the little creatures, who are quite soft and
flabby and pale coloured, are transferred to the charge of celibate
females, women 'workers' as it were, who in some cases possess brains of
almost masculine dimensions."

Just at this point, unhappily, this message broke off. Fragmentary and
tantalising as the matter constituting this chapter is, it does
nevertheless give a vague, broad impression of an altogether strange and
wonderful world - a world with which our own may have to reckon we know
not how speedily. This intermittent trickle of messages, this whispering
of a record needle in the stillness of the mountain slopes, is the first
warning of such a change in human conditions as mankind has scarcely
imagined heretofore. In that satellite of ours there are new elements, new
appliances, traditions, an overwhelming avalanche of new ideas, a strange
race with whom we must inevitably struggle for mastery - gold as common as
iron or wood...