Tag Archives: h.g. wells

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells: The set-up to this story is somewhat unusual, as it begins with a stranger wrapped in bandages arriving at an inn on a snowy night. Everyone assumes he’s horribly disfigured, and the text goes on a bit as if that is indeed the case, but given the title we the reader are well aware that he is in fact invisible. That said, I did very much enjoy this story. It’s more of a horror story than I expected, with the titular character unquestionably playing the part of the villain (as opposed to a mostly well-meaning scientist cursed by his own hubris, as with Frankenstein or Dr. Jekyll). The pitfalls of invisibility (such as being able to see through one’s own eyelids, for example) added a certain spark to the narrative, and parts were surprisingly suspenseful. The Invisible Man’s motivations were sort of vague and unsatisfying, but in general I recommend this book.

Classics Retold

September is the month of Classics Retold, courtesy of Bookish Whimsy, among others. I decided to go with The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells, one of my favorite authors. I’ll start with the book review tomorrow, then post reviews of assorted other things – mostly movies – based on this story.

I thought about making this a weekly thing, but instead I think I’ll just post things as I get to them, which will end up being distributed more or less evenly through the month, depending on how quickly Netflix delivers.

Note: many of these posts will contain spoilers, but I think most people know the general story of The Invisible Man – that is, there’s this dude who figures out how to make himself invisible and this ability makes him powerful, dangerous, and ultimately tragic. It’s a very short novel and is available online and via email for free, so you really ought to go read it.

The Food of the Gods by H.G. Wells

The Food of the Gods by H.G. Wells: Two men create a substance to accelerate growth in any living thing, which is fine for vegetables but gets a little out of hand when wasps the size of dogs plague a nearby village. Things really start getting weird when one of them has the brilliant idea to feed the stuff to his infant son. This is a decent premise, but turned out not to be one of my favorite Wells stories. The characters fell a little flat and the story sort of unraveled as if Wells had this great idea and then had no idea what to do with it. It wasn’t bad so much as it just didn’t really hold my interest.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells

The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells: As some have created barriers to heat or sound or water, so our heroes have created a barrier against gravity. This material, called Cavorite, it then used to create a spherical capsule to ferry them to the moon. There they find life, of course, because if they found what’s really on the moon (i.e., nothing), we would have no story. The aliens were interesting enough, but what really fascinated me was the idea of the atmosphere freezing into snow at night, then thawing into thin-but-breathable air each day. I felt real suspense as the characters desperately searched for shelter as the deadly sunset approached. While Wells is most known for his visionary science fiction, what I love is the interaction between the two main characters, particularly Bedford’s outrage at Cavor’s absent-minded apathy. This short book may not be one of his more famous works, but I definitely enjoyed it.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Weekly Geeks

WG 2009-39 is about book recommendations. To be perfectly honest, most of the book recommendations I follow come in the form of books literally shoved into my hands by fellow BC in DC members. We get passionate sometimes, and more than once I’ve shown passing interest in a book, only to get a glowing “OMG you must read this”-style exclamation from whoever brought it. More often than not, I give it a try. And am rarely disappointed. I’ve come across several great authors this way, including Simon Singh, Neil Gaiman, and Catherine M. Petrini. Basically if a book looks interesting, regardless of genre, I’ll give it a shot.

Sometimes the books I read are a random find, such as the infrequent occasion when I catch a BookCrossing book in the wild, or if I happen to win it in a contest. I usually have a large number of to-be-read (TBR) books on my shelves, so it is rare indeed for me to finish my current book and have to go searching for something else to read. If I do, though, there’s always The Book Seer, Literature-Map, and Debbie’s Idea, all of which are fine tools for discovering new books and authors.

The official assignment this week involves reader participation. Since the vast majority of my readership exists solely in my head, I may have to play music to drown out the crickets, but hey, maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. But anyway. The assignment is to ask for recommendations, and give my own, both within a single genre. So I’m going to choose science fiction/fantasy (SFF) as my genre. Some people may protest and tell me that’s two genres, but I beg to differ. First, several popular authors write books that are difficult to categorize as one or the other (e.g., Anne McCaffrey and Christopher Stasheff), and as Arthur C. Clarke once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

First off, I’d love to hear your recommendations. I don’t mean stuff that necessarily aligns with my established tastes, I mean great SFF books in general. What are some titles/authors I simply should not miss?

And now for my recommendations, again in SFF. The WG page suggests I start with something like “If you’re looking for…” which could just mean narrowing it down by genre, but I’m going to narrow it down a little further. So here goes:

If you’re looking for a rowdy yarn set in the far future… Mike Resnick is your man. Most of his books are set within the future chronology laid out in Birthright: The Book of Man, but my personal favorites are Santiago: A Myth of the Far Future and the Penelope Bailey trilogy.

If you’re looking for a beautiful fairy tale… then march right up to Neil Gaiman and Stardust. This is one of the few books I’ve kept and intend to reread. I hear Neverwhere is his best novel, but I haven’t read it yet (though I do have a copy on my shelf).

If you’re looking for a powerful tale of children in an adult world… I cannot recommend Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card highly enough.

If you’re looking for hilarious satire in the guise of SFF… then you want definitely to read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

If you’re looking for time travel… The Time Machine by H.G. Wells is your best bet. There are other notables in this sub-genre, but Wells tops them all IMHO.

If you’re looking for good YA SFF… I really enjoyed the Borderlands books, especially Elsewhere and its sequel Never Never by Will Shetterly.

If you’re looking for great concept stories… Larry Niven, Arthur C. Clarke, and Isaac Asimov are all excellent choices for expanding your horizons.

And finally, if you’re looking for mythology in the modern world… you’re sure to get a kick out of Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips.

So there you have it.  I’m sure I’ll missed a bunch, but this is a good start.  What glaring omissions do you spot on this page? Have you read any of these?  What did you think of them?

Most importantly: enjoy! :)

The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells

The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells: Edward Prendick’s ship sinks and he is picked up by Montgomery, a passenger on another ship. When they reach Montgomery’s destination – an island in the middle of the Pacific – the ship’s captain refuses to take Prendick any further. Luckily, Montgomery eventually relents and brings Prendick onto the island as his guest. There he meets Dr. Moreau and a slew of unusual creatures. Unlike most 19th century literature, I find Wells exceedingly readable and fun. His characters are realistic and memorable, as are his scientific ideas. Perhaps still not my favorite of Wells’s (I’m not sure you can beat The Time Machine) but an excellent story nonetheless. Highly recommended.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (unabridged audiobook read by Ralph Cosham): I was pleased to learn that this brief book is almost nothing like the 2002 movie, since that was horrible. Rather, this is the story of a man simply referred to as The Time Traveller, a native of Victorian England who spends the bulk of the story telling of his adventures in the year 802,701 and beyond. The reader hears things more or less secondhand and after the fact, as opposed to the more suspenseful (and much more common) everything-as-it-happens mode. Despite the extra step of disconnect from the action, this style actually adds to the realism, truly showing the future through the eyes and impressions of the Time Traveller, who can share many theories but few concrete facts. I was fascinated by the description of the world many hundreds of thousands of years hence, and even felt inspired to write my own time travel story, just for fun. Highly recommended.

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