A shipwreck in the South Seas takes us to a palm-tree paradise where a mad sciencist -- the depraved Dr. Moreau -- conducts vile experiments, unspeakable animal experiments with hideous, humanlike results. Edward Prendick, an Englishman whose misfortunes bring him to the island, is witness to the Beast Folk's strange civilization and their eventual terrifying regression. It's the stuff of high adventure; it's also a tale about evolution -- and a satire that plays deliberately in the vein Jonathan Swift mined in Gulliver's Travels. It's also a bloody tale of horror. Wells himself was frank about it: "The Island of Dr. Moreau is an exercise in youthful blasphemy. Now and then, though I rarely admit it, the universe projects itself towards me in a hideous grimace. It grimaced that time, and I did my best to express my vision of the aimless torture in creation." While gene-splicing and bioengineering are common practices today, readers are still astounded at Wells's haunting vision and the ethical questions he raised a century before our time.