Friday, 9 November 2018

Book #80

A Slip under the Microscope by H.G. Wells

Three disturbing, mysterious and moving stories from Wells, science-fiction pioneer.

Oh, the Little Black Classics formula strikes again! Smack ‘em with a few collections which make them want to put pins in their eyes, then present something so wonderful that they will continue with the series. As this range goes, it’s probably the only admirable ploy they have used.

These are two beautiful stories from the master of science fiction, and yet there is no science fiction to behold. Some may be disappointed in this, but I found both stories incredible in their own ways.

The Door in the Wall was powerful. Wells speaks of regret, of wonder, and of a potential utopia only accessible when you least expect it. I loved that there could be many interpretations of Wallace’s encounter with the green door – psychosis, raw wanting, the afterlife – any of these can be applied here, and the beauty of it all is that Wells allows us to spin our wheel of thoughts to land on whichever interpretation we see fit. Very infrequently do I finish a story only to turn it over in my head for hours afterwards, and I have an unbridled respect for authors who can provoke my thoughts and feelings in this way.

A Slip Under the Microscope wasn’t quite as thought-inducing as The Door in the Wall, and yet there was something simplistically resonant here for me. Wells allows us to consider the importance of honesty in contrast to the importance of self-protection, and how the consequences of being an upright and honest person sometimes don’t manifest themselves positively. As someone who truly believes in openness and honesty, this was actually a bit of a blow, but also an important possibility to consider.

So yes, no time machines, invisible men, or extraterrestrials, but some really gorgeous prose on humanity. This is definitely up there with some of the most enjoyable titles in the Little Black Classics range.

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