11 August 2014

Review: The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells

Trade paperback, 161 pages
Published 2005 (originally 1897)
Acquired May 2014
Read July 2014
The Invisible Man
by H. G. Wells

Rereading The Invisible Man-- which I last read when I was a kid, we're probably talking twenty years ago-- furthers my supposition that Well's main m.o. was to take tropes of the nascent science fiction genre and do them right. Wells gives us the fantasy of being invisible, but then works out what problems would logically have to follow on from it, and it turns out to be rather dreadful on the whole. (Though as Andy Sawyer points out in his notes to my Penguin Classic edition, he does ignore the fact that a completely invisible person wouldn't be able to see.) There's a lot of great stuff here, especially the slow build of who the mysterious traveler is-- those scenes where people get glimpses are haunting. But there are also a lot of small touches; in terms of have actual characters inhabit it, this is one of Wells's best scientific romances, I think; it's almost like this invisible man has walked right into the middle of a group of Thomas Hardy rustics. I think my favorite part is a small one: that image of the invisible cat, prowling the streets of London.

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