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Babes in a Darkling Wood, by H.G. Wells

I got hold of this in hope that it might be a possible nominee for the 1941 Retro Hugos, given Wells' visibility in the genre. Alas, it has no sfnal elements at all, being set in England (with diversions to Sweden, Poland, Latvia and Finland) in 1939 and 1940, the story of a young couple coming of age together and separately, with lots of earnest dialogue about the future state of the world. I particularly liked the heroine, a student at Newnham, and slightly wondered why she put up with her slightly older lover who goes off to help the Russians and comes back with serious PTSD and the scales fallen from his eyes. I enjoyed the various scenes where Wells argues with himself in the voices of his own characters; he was often wrong but interestingly so. There is a lot of talk about sex, usually in the abstract. Wells called this his 'finest piece of work' and 'the book of my heart'; I'm not sure about the former, but the latter rings true. You can get it online from the Australian Project Gutenberg, here.

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