Monday, January 25, 2010

"The Invisible Man" by H.G. Wells

I have fallen behind in writing up books read for the wonderful Science Fiction book club being run by Dublin Public Libraries (second Tuesday of every month in the ILAC library, SF fans!). This H.G. Wells classic is the most recent book we discussed. I first read it years and years ago for the first time, albeit after the comic strip adaptation that showed up in Dr Who Weekly. In this book, the man who makes himself invisible is deranged, a borderline psychopath with delusions of grandeur who is intent on using his invisibility to exploit and dominate his fellow men. It is ambiguous as to whether his madness is a side-effect of the invisibility, or whether he was always an anti-social loner. I incline towards the latter view, but it does not make the book's ending any less tragic.

You may have read The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill. That features Wells' invisible man as a character, with his psychopathic tendencies greatly ramped up. Moore and O'Neill have him as a sexual predator and, ultimately, a traitor to the entire human race, someone with essentially no redeeming features. He works well as a monster, but they maybe miss some of the pathos of the original book, in which he is a tragic figure whose invisibility is almost a metaphor for his separation from humanity.

There is also a recent comic by Jeff Lemire, which retells Wells' book in a modern day setting. I have not read it, but given my love of Lemire's Sweet Tooth, I am interested in tracking it down.

If you feel like joining in the SF reading fun, the current book is Iain M. Banks' Use of Weapons. The next meeting is on the 9th February, at 6.30 p.m., in the ILAC Library.

visible pandas

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