Google celebrates Herbert George Wells

The 143rd anniversary of the birth of English author H.G. Wells is remembered through a series of doodles.

doodle hg wells 1 high resolution

Normally I wouldn’t say anything on this blog about minor things Google does such as changing its logo, but this time I can’t ignore what it’s doing because apparently it has to do with my favorite writer.

It all started on September 5h when in some local versions of the search engine a UFO appeared hovering over the second “o” of the word “Google”, in an apparent act of abducting the letter. At first this didn’t seem strange at all since Google changes its logo frequently when a certain date is celebrated, and clicking on the special logo it leads to a search that provides information about that date. But this time, the search it was leading to was “inexplicable phenomenon”, revealing nothing more about it.

On the Official Google Blog in Korea it was announced that this doodle (that’s what Google’s special logos are called) would be the first in a series of 3 logos meant to celebrate a famous person, and that the next one would be related to the words “mystery”, “invisibility”, and “novel”.

Not so cryptic of a message because virtually all guesses have pointed out that the famous person being celebrated is Herbert George Wells, an English science fiction writer famous for being the author of four of the genre’s most iconic novels: The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, The Island of Doctor Moreau; and especially, The War of the Worlds (on Google they need to improve their “riddles” a little more).

H.G. Wells The War of the Worlds (1927 cover)

On September 15th, the second doodle appeared: again a UFO hovering over the Google letters, which had the appearance of the classical crop circles:

Doodle HG Wells 2 (High Resolution)

This time, Google gave more information by tweeting from its official account some coordinates, which turned out to be those of the town of Woking, in the English county of Surrey; more specifically in the area known as Horsell Common.

As anyone who knows a little about Wells is surely aware of, Woking is the town where the writer lived for some years and where part of the story of The War of the Worlds takes place. In the novel, Horsell Common is the location where the first Martian cylinder lands, which is the one that begins the invasion.

Today you can see on Google Operating System the drawing of the third and last doodle: the unmistakable scene of the attack on Victorian England by the Martian tripods:

Doodle HG Wells 3 (High Resolution)

However, Google OS doesn’t cite its source and in none of the local versions of Google that I have visited does the aforementioned doodle appear, therefore it’s unknown to me where they took the image from. In any case, tomorrow September 21st will be the 143rd anniversary of the birth of Herbert George Wells and it’s possible that this whole mystery will be cleared up.

Update 09/20/09: Indeed, the logo is real and already appears in the Google versions of Australia, China, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Rumania, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Ukraine (curious that it’s not in the United Kingdom), although the link is not the same in all and the Spanish version doesn’t even have it; only the “Not for Spain” message appears when hovering over it.

Happy birthday, H.G. Wells!

Update 09/21/09: The news of the Wells celebration has already spread throughout the Internet and has emerged, for example, the explanation for the strange behavior the doodle had in Spain (it’s also notable this theory by a blogger who believes that the exclusion of Spain may be a sort of punishment against Spanish SEOs for Google bombing previous doodles).

The Official Google Blog in the United States yesterday confirmed what we all knew, adding that “Inspiration for innovation in technology and design can come from lots of places; we wanted to celebrate H.G. Wells as an author who encouraged fantastical thinking about what is possible, on this planet and beyond.”

The doodles in much larger size were also published on the blog, so I decided to use them to replace the images I previously had.

At the moment I haven’t found more doodles apart from the 17 that there were yesterday, and it seems to me something very regrettable that Google Mexico didn’t put one at the end of the day. 🙁

However, the important thing is that thanks to Google now the world is aware of the anniversary of this magnificent writer who was Herbert George Wells and at least this time his birthday won’t go unnoticed.

Update 09/22/09: The anniversary has passed and in total there were 19 doodles, since in addition to the 17 that I mentioned at the beginning, I located one more in Google Canada and another in Google.com; the latter was only visible when doing a search and not from the main page.

A curiosity: the tripod that is to the extreme left in the third doodle is abducting a cow by means of a beam of light, a fact that has nothing to do with the novel since the Martians in the book only capture people and do it by means of tentacles, as visible in some of the other tripods in the drawing. In addition you can see many flying saucers mixed with them.

From my point of view, Google wasn’t only making references to the novel, but to the fact that it was the work that created the concept of aliens as we have it now. That would also be my explanation for the first and second doodle that also contain situations that don’t appear in the book.

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