Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Invisible Man, H. G. Wells

Title: The Invisible Man
Author: H. G. Wells
Rating: Good

I've finally found a reasonable story in this collection of science fiction written by H. G. Wells. The Invisible Man manages to maintain the reader's interest and dodges the pitfalls I noted in The Island Of Dr. Moreau and The Time Machine.

Wells manages to avoid atrociously bad science. That's quite a feat given the book was first published in 1897. In truth, of course, there is no way to do what Wells describes. That is, there is no way to make anyone or anything invisible given the processes presented. However, the willing suspension of disbelief is pretty easy here, despite 109 years of advances in science since this was written. I think Wells improved as a writer between The Island Of Dr. Moreau and this novel to pull that off.

That is not to say that all is perfect here. There are some issues of language and cultural expectation that still jump out at a modern reader, but that is to be expected. The worst, in my opinion, was a single use of "the n-word" - as I guess I have to phrase it these days. Coming out of nowhere, it was a slap in the face to me. But then, putting my brain into a different gear, it was probably common usage that far back. I can give Wells some slack here, though I am left wondering at his thoughts on race and equality.

Anyway, The Invisible Man is a reasonable read as old SF goes. You might enjoy it.