Sunday, 1 May 2016

Book #22

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells


This masterpiece of science fiction is the fascinating story of Griffin, a scientist who creates a serum to render himself invisible, and his descent into madness that follows.

The Invisible Man was such a dickhead that I actually loved him. To be genius enough to invent a serum that renders a human invisible, and to then submit to the horrors of insanity so much, that all you want to do with your invisibility is batter and murder folk, is great in a character. He was loathsome, he was selfish, he was everything I didn't expect him to be other than utterly brilliant.

When asked, "What would your superpower be?", lots of people choose invisibility. I judge these people, as I feel there are more noble and moral superpowers to have; a desire for invisibility strikes me as a craving for being hidden, for sneaking behind peoples' backs, and for perversity. Wells shows us the ultimate downfalls of being invisible - clothes will remain visible, so you must remain naked at all times (good luck with the snow); anything you eat will remain visible until it's digested (let's see that dirty Burger King floating around at mid-level); smoking? Yeah, we'll see that in your lungs; dogs won't like you; you'll have to be ever-conscious of the noise you're making if you're creepily sneaking around someone's house. Add that to Wells' assertion that either the serum, or the transparency itself, will turn you into a raving murderous lunatic, and I think you'll be choosing a different superpower the next time that conversation comes up over the lunch table.

There are lots of flaws in Wells' scientific explanation of how Griffin came to be invisible, but those aren't something I needed to be exact, or even needed explained to me in great detail. The novel's focus was the descent into madness, and the abject violence which ensued. I was reminded of Frankenstein here; Griffin's treatment as an invisible man, and previous to his transformation, as an albino, would have had an impact on his mental health, his reasoning, and his ultimate reaction to society.

If you're looking for a short science fiction classic, I'd thoroughly recommend this. Wells shows us science, humanity, and madness, all at once in an entirely entertaining 160 pages.

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