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The Country of the Blind and Other Selected…

The Country of the Blind and Other Selected Stories (1911)

by H. G. Wells

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The country of the blind and other stories H G Wells
This is a selection of Well's short stories, selected by the author himself. By 1911 he had written over 60 stories which had been published in various literary journals. In his introduction Wells explains that the era of the short story seems to have passed and he blames critics and publishers for this situation. Too many short stories had been dismissed as 'mere anecdotes' and this had resulted in a drying up of their publication. Wells laments the lively literary scene of the 1890's when the latest short story would be talked about, compared and ranked with others of the genre. Most of these short stories were written before the turn of the century and Wells says he has reread them all before paring down his 60 stories down to thirty three.

Wells has selected the best stories from The Stolen Bacillus which I read earlier and added some absolute gems to make this into a very fine collection. I rated each story from 1 to 5 and was left with nine stories getting a full five marks. with only a few falling down to three or below. Wells is famous for his science fiction writing and there are two here that rank with his very best stories:

The Star which could serve as a template for When Worlds Collide by Philip Wylie. Wells imagines the consequences of a rogue planet invading our solar system which crashes into Pluto on its way to being absorbed by the sun. The devastation on earth is immense.

A dream of Armageddon A man dreams he is 200 years in the future, but this dream is so vivid and recurring he starts to believe he is actually there. In the future he has to balance love with his duty as a politician. This story finds Wells at his dreamy, imaginative best and it ends powerfully.

Many of these tales would be described today as fantasy: A man and his son visit a magic shop, where there is genuine magic. In another story a man invents an accelerator where he moves so fast that everyone else is standing still, this reminded me of an advert for coffee which is doing the rounds in France at the moment. The crystal egg which in certain lights gives a view of life on another planet. But my absolute favourites are:

The man who could work miracles An ordinary man suddenly discovers that by the strength of his will power he can make anything happen, of course he ends up destroying the world. This was made into a film in 1936 and although I have not seen it for a long time (it always seemed to be on Sunday daytime TV) it had that magical quality that Wells often finds in his writing

The door in the Wall A bright intelligent child out walking sees a green door in a wall and goes through it to find a land of enchantment. As he completes his schooling he often thinks about this door which he has never been able to find again, but at significant periods of his life he does sees it again, but circumstances conspire to stop him going through it.

The Country of the Blind A mountain climber (Nunez) discovers a valley hidden from the world for 14 generations, but the people who live there are all totally blind. Nunez at once thinks that in the land of the blind a one eyed man would be king, but things do not go according to plan. Wells description of the blind society that has evolved is beautifully handled.

There are adventure stories, ghost stories and others that might be a subject for the "Twilight Zone", but also there are some excellent stories of love and manners:

Miss Winchelsea's Heart A romance where a young woman meets a man on a trip to Rome, she falls in love with him, but his surname is just too awful for her to contemplate, she loses him to her best friend.

The slip under the Microscope A scholarship boy inadvertently cheats during an exam, but his conscience won't let him rest.

This collection is still wonderfully entertaining. It's free to download and there really is something for everyone. 5 Stars ( )
4 vote baswood | May 30, 2013 |
A collection of 33 short stories, some excellent, some ok, and some plain pointless. It is presented as a book of science-fiction but some of the stories are simply observations on life and not sci-fi at all. Of the remaining, I'd particularly recommend "the flowering of the strange orchid", "the man who could work miracles", "the empire of the ants", and "the country of the blind". Very hard to rate - some stories would get a 4, others a 1/2, so I'll go midway with 2 1/2 ( )
  eclecticdodo | Apr 30, 2012 |
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This is a collection of 3 short stories, "The Country of the Blind," "The Remarkable Case of Davidson's Eyes," and "The Stolen Bacillus." Please do not combine with the short story of the same name. Thank you.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141441984, Paperback)

The final installment in Penguin Classics's landmark H. G. Wells series

Although best known for his novels, it was in his early short fiction that H. G. Wells first explored the relationship between the fantastical and everyday. Here horror meets humor, man-eating squids invade the sleepy Devon coast, and strange kinks and portals in space and time lead to other worlds-a marvelous literary universe showcasing the author's fascination with the wonders and perils of scientific progress.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:01 -0400)

H G Wells was the founding father of modern science fiction. These stories from him consider the gift of sight and the possibility of using science to see vast distances and speculate on the impending threat of biological warfare.

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