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The Invisible Man | [H. G. Wells]

The Invisible Man

On a freezing February day, a stranger emerges from out of the gray to request a room at a local provincial inn. Who is this out-of-season traveler? More confounding is the thick mask of bandages obscuring his face. Why does he disguise himself in this manner and keep himself hidden away in his room? Aroused by trepidation and curiosity, the local villagers bring it upon themselves to find the answers.
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Publisher's Summary

On a freezing February day, a stranger emerges from out of the gray to request a room at a local provincial inn. Who is this out-of-season traveler? More confounding is the thick mask of bandages obscuring his face. Why does he disguise himself in this manner and keep himself hidden away in his room?

Aroused by trepidation and curiosity, the local villagers bring it upon themselves to find the answers. What they discover is a man trapped in a terror of his own creation, and a chilling reflection of the unsolvable mysteries of their own souls.

In the tradition of Mary Shelley�s Frankenstein comes another undisputed classic of science fiction and horror to stir the imagination and conscience.

(P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

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3.5 (217 )
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3.9 (164 )
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  •  
    Brian Lansing, MI, United States 06-06-13
    Brian Lansing, MI, United States 06-06-13 Member Since 2013

    I love to read books; and now just recently I've discovered that audio books are very cool!! I'm also an author. You can find the SciFi book "The Curse of Europa" here on Audible or on Amazon.

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    "Way ahead of its time!"
    What does James Adams bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    James Adams did a wonderful job with this. I had listened to of few different narrators and I don't know if he was the best, but he did a great job. No complaints! I think he captured the temperament of the invisible man with ease.


    Any additional comments?

    I was going to title this review, "Stands the test of time," but then I figured the better title was "Way ahead of its time." I've read, or tried to read, some old Sci-fi from the 40's and 50's, and... I'm sorry... but it is just corny. Stuff that is considered classics from the 50's (give or take a decade) would be considered just plain BAD if written today, in my opinion. But if this book were written and released today, I think it would still be good - very good. This is why I think it was just way ahead of it's time, like most of H.G.'s stuff.

    It was fun reading a book written in the era of 1897. It's not historical fiction set in the late 19th century, it was actually written back then and was the way things were. This added to the "coolness" of the book. But yet, like I said, it isn't the corny/bad stuff that you might expect from "old/classic scifi."

    I had read the first 1/3 of the book a year ago (having always wanted to read it) but got side tracked. I picked up the audio book here for 50 cents and was well worth it. A great story and a great listen!

    26 of 29 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jefferson 11-01-14
    Jefferson 11-01-14 Member Since 2010

    I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.

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    ""How can you be happy like that?""

    On the fourth day of February a "stranger [falls] out of infinity into Iping Village" in the Sussex countryside and rents a room at the local inn. His body swathed in clothes, his face wrapped in white bandages, his eyes hidden behind a pair of big blue spectacles, he cuts a bizarre figure. The local "yokels" speculate that he must have suffered some kind of accident. Or that he must be a disguised criminal on the run from the police. Or an ashamed mixed-race piebald hiding his appearance. Or an anarchist working on bombs. Or a lunatic. He claims that he's an "experimental investigator." Surely he's unpleasant and irritable, possessing "A bark of a laugh that he seemed to bite and kill in his mouth," upsetting dogs and boys, and rebuffing all attempts to get to know him with curses so that he may be left undisturbed to do his work. No one even knows his name. About when wags begin walking round the village imitating the stranger by pulling down the brims of their hats and pulling up the collars of their coats and kids begin singing a Bogey Man song whenever they see the stranger, events take a surreal turn when the vicar's house is burgled and the locals put two and two together and send the constable to arrest the stranger, who then disrobes and disappears, for, it turns out, he is the Invisible Man.

    Most of H. G. Wells' The Invisible Man (1897) concerns the efforts of "the writer" to collate and interpret the testimony of various witnesses to the Invisible Man's "reign of terror" in the British countryside after the fact. Told from the points of view of countryside denizens like the proprietress of the inn and her husband, the village clock-jobber, general practitioner, reverend, and constable, and even a bachelor tramp, much of the story is a mysterious comedy of class or manner or place. When we finally learn the stranger's name and get his story from his own mouth over half way through, the tale shifts into a study of the alienated mad scientist. Even this is at a remove, however, for his monologue is narrated from the point of view of his university acquaintance Dr. Kemp, who interrupts his story now and then with questions and comments. Wells thus distances us from his scientist until, perhaps, the end of the climax of the short novel.

    The Invisible Man explores themes that appear elsewhere in Wells' work: unknown wonders and terrors in the world/universe caused or explained by science may appear at any moment; people fear extraordinary things; men of science who cut themselves off from community become "inhuman"; "contemporary society" is marred by "desecrated fields" and "dank, squalid respectability and . . . sordid commercialism." It is interesting to read the novel with Wells' great short story "In the Country of the Blind," in which a sighted man enters a village of blind people and thinks to rule them, while here an invisible man thinks at first that his condition will give him wonderful advantages over the common run of sighted humanity, permitting him to perpetrate any crime and to do anything he wants.

    Perhaps Wells stacks the deck against his scientist. If he had become invisible in the summer instead of the winter, if he'd been a man of calmer temper, if he'd used a different palliative than strychnine, if he'd had more money, if he'd found a less "miserable tool" than the wonderfully named Thomas Marvel, if he'd met Dr. Kemp earlier, and so on, things might have turned out differently. But because the brilliant man is self-centered, irritable, anti-social, and amoral and has become "ruled by a fixed idea" (that his experiments are the only reality), has "lost his human sympathy," has come to believe that "the common conventions of humanity" like not robbing people in their own homes "are all very well for common people," and has imagined schemes for using the "commoners" around him instead of for improving their lives, for all those reasons Wells relishes making things difficult for his scientist.

    As in most of his work, Wells' writing here is concise, clear, amusing, terrifying, and literary. He provides reality-establishing scientific explanations involving optics, physics, dynamos, and chemicals for invisibility. He writes comical and vivid descriptions: "His mottled face was apprehensive, and he moved with a sort of reluctant alacrity." He applies irony liberally: "'An invisible man is a man of power.' He stopped for a moment to sneeze violently." And he is capable of harrowing prose: "Down went the heap of struggling men again and rolled over. There was, I am afraid, some savage kicking. Then suddenly a wild scream of 'Mercy! Mercy!' that died down swiftly to a sound like choking."

    James Adams reads the audiobook perfectly.

    People interested in the history of science fiction (this is one of the first sf stories about invisibility), in studies of criminal intellectual pride, or in compact philosophical novels, should read this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Calliope 10-19-14
    Calliope 10-19-14
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    "part slapstick action, part sci-fi ideology"

    It's hard to really like a book with such an unsympathetic central (and title) character. While many reviews say that the character was driven insane by his discovery of invisibility, I'm not so sure......I thought it seemed like he was always a selfish, rude megalomaniac and was only given more ability to express that as an invisible man. It's hard to say, of course.

    What surprised me was how much of the story is taken up with what is essentially slapstick action of people chasing, and being chased by, the invisible man. It's kind of ridiculous and unnecessary, in my opinion, and detracts from any suspense or thriller-type of atmosphere that could have been built. The underlying sci-fi of how a physicist discovered the secret of invisibility and the social message of the difficulties of being invisible are kind of lost under the action and reaction of the end effect (an invisible man who can enter or leave anywhere undetected, and so can attack people at whim).

    I've enjoyed so many other HG Wells books, that it was a real disappointment to me to find this book really only average, in my opinion. And the narration was really only fair, with unnatural accents really distracting from the flow of the story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ron Asheboro, NC, USA 11-09-14
    Ron Asheboro, NC, USA 11-09-14 Member Since 2008
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    "A clasic, but not H.G. Wells best"

    This was an interesting plot that moved quickly. The man was somewhat mad and acted somewhat irrational. Still an interesting story line

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Erik Sooke, British Columbia, Canada 10-26-14
    Erik Sooke, British Columbia, Canada 10-26-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Dated, but still entertaining"

    This was good story and, even though it was already only about 5 hours of listening time, could have been a short story. It does suffer from the overly described writing fashion of the Victorian era. Perhaps we are just less patient as readers.

    The narrator was well matched to the story and enhanced the experience. He brought to life the expressions and inflections of the era.

    Give this one a read, even if just for the historical place this story holds.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    BookReader Chicago, IL, United States 09-23-14
    BookReader Chicago, IL, United States 09-23-14 Member Since 2001
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    "Cool, classic Sci-Fi"
    Any additional comments?

    If you’re looking for a book that reflects the television productions of either the late 1950s or mid 1970s, this is not the book for you. Although the fundamental basis is the same, the behavior of the lead character is not. In the television stories, our invisible man was a good guy, altruistic. This protagonist is more power conscious and although the distress resulting from an accidental experiment is understandable, his devilish behavior is evidence of a nasty human being.

    Worth the credits, classic science fiction. This story was written in the late 1800s and is timeless in it’s appeal. Just over five hours of listening, nicely read by James Adams, released in 2000. Been around in audio format for quite a while. Enjoyed!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jes Hobart, IN, United States 06-23-12
    Jes Hobart, IN, United States 06-23-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Better than any movie"

    I've seen movie after movie and the real story is better than any of them. In all the movies the Invisible man is shot. Instead of how he really dies. This is a great story that explains what happens when someone gains a little power and it corrupts them absolutely. Here is a case where someone found something great and instead of using it wisely he decided to use if for unwise actions. He did do one thing wisely and that was not trust those in power less they make hundreds like him. Wouldn't George Orwell have loved to put that in 1984?

    14 of 28 people found this review helpful
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  • Sam Woodward
    UK
    3/15/08
    Overall
    "How NOT to record an audiobook"

    I really wish I'd listened to the sample before buying.

    The narration is truly awful - read like a shipping report, Mayes' dreary monotone has the sole recommendation of being preferable to his occasional weak stabs at 'enthusiasm'. His attempts to put on accents are as poorly executed & inappropriate as Dick Van Dyke's unrecognisable cockney in Mary Poppins. Yet somehow this is topped by his incredibly annoying habit of adding lengthy & inappropriately-timed pauses mid-sentence, and rounded off with background noises created by his fidgeting.

    The most positive comment I can make is that it illustrates how audiobooks are more professionally produced nowadays than they were when this version was unlovingly churned out. Sadly, this is the only audio version of The Invisible Man on Audible. So I'll have to hunt out the paperback, since the thought of sitting through another 5 1/2 hours of this makes me shudder.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
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