The Week 6 reading assignments for my online class on Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World were H. G. Wells‘ novels The Island of Doctor Moreau and The Invisible Man, and the short stories “The Country of the Blind” and “The Star” from his collection The Country of the Blind and Other Stories.
It was a lot of reading, but it was also a treat; in the first five weeks, we had not had anything I think truly belongs in the science fiction category. Even Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Poe’s more pseudo-scientific tales like “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” do not actually spend more than a short description on anything science-like; more importantly, they do not bring anything from the realm of science as more than trappings in a few scenes, whereas Wells uses its ideas and methods in constructing the structure of the novels.
I also enjoy Wells’ ability to use very different tones and styles from book to book — for example, The Island of Doctor Moreau is adventure and horror, The Invisible Man has a little bit of scariness in it but mostly humour. In fact, I nominate The Invisible Man as a precursor in the British tradition now exemplified by the long-running Doctor Who, of mixing fear, adventure, and humour.
Here is my 300-word essay — not all that insightful, but sometimes you just have to phone one in. Continue reading “Without an Eye in the Sky”