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Thirty Strange Stories by H. G. Wells

Thirty Strange Stories (edition 1974)

by H. G. Wells (Author)

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522225,591 (3.93)4
Title:Thirty Strange Stories
Authors:H. G. Wells (Author)
Info:Causeway Books, NewYork, NY. (1974): "A facsimile edition of the Harper & Brothers edition of 1898."
Collections:Literature, Your library, Books, Short Stories, Ghost Stories
Tags:literature, english_literature, 19th_century, 20th_century, horror, ghost_stories, fantasy_literature, 1015

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Thirty Strange Stories by H. G. Wells



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This is an anthology using Wells's weaker and some unpublished stories. It doesn't reflect his greatness. One wonderss if the word "strange" of the title means the stories themselves or the fact that H. G. probably wouldn't have wanted some of them published at all. Most pleasurable were "The Argonauts of the Air," "In the Abyss," "The Rajah's Treasure," "tHE sTORY OF dAVIDSON'S eYES," "tHE sEA rAIDERS," AND "The Treasure in the Forest." ( )
  andyray | Nov 10, 2010 |
This anthology contains the following stories:

The Strange Orchid
Æpyornis Island
The Plattner Story
The Argonauts of the Air
The Story of the Late Mr Elvesham
The Stolen Bacillus
The Red Room
A Moth (Genus Unknown)
In the Abyssb
Under the Knife
The Reconciliation
A Slip Under the Microscope
In the Avu Observatory
The Triumphs of a Taxidermist
A Deal in Ostriches
The Rajah’s Treasure
The Story of Davidson’s Eyes
The Cone
The Purple Pileus
A Catastrophe
Le Mari Terrible
The Apple
The Sad Story of a Dramatic Critic
The Jilting of Jane
The Lost Inheritance
Pollock and the Porroh Man
The Sea Raiders
In the Modern Vein
The Lord of the Dynamos
The Treasure in the Forest

The title of this anthology would suggest that the stories are all "strange" but it's not entirely true - There are all sorts of themes, spanning the grotesque to the mundane - Horror, science, political/social commentary, mysticism, slice-of-life, etc. There seems to be an attempt to cluster similar themes, so the progression feels logical if you read the anthology cover to cover.

It's difficult to know how to review a book of so many short stories - Some obviously stood out more than others and many of them had me thinking hard about complicated concepts. Looking at my notes, my favorites fell into distinct categories:

EXCELLENT STORIES, ALL AROUND: The Strange Orchid is an old, well used plot - It offered little surprise - And yet, I found myself horrified and enthralled all the same. Under the Knife should get a review of it's own - It was unusual, profound, and it may be the most unique story in the collection. A Moth is a tale of the same nature as The Telltale Heart - A story I have always loved and can never get enough of, even retold (with a slightly different twist) by someone else. The Apple is a new twist on an old moral tale - I never tire of exploring morality. The Lost Inheritance also covers morality, with a creepy twist.

SURPRISINGLY GROTESQUE: I thought these were all *very* good but found them surprisingly gory and they left me a bit creeped out... The Triumphs of a Taxidermist, Pollock and the Porrah Man, The Sea Raiders, Lord of the Dynamos.

The rest of this review contains SPOILERS.

STORIES THAT MADE ME THINK: These all warrant much more detailed reviews as they all had underlying concepts in them that really got me thinking hard:

The Plattner Story: This may be my favorite story in the collection. Wells seems fascinated with this concept of "dual vision" - Of existing on two planes at once, our bodies split between them - Half of us here, half of us there. We see it again in the story, Davidson's Eyes (with a slightly more scientific focus, but the concept is essentially the same.) I find the idea fascinating, and Wells' telling of it unique. Perhaps if I read more in this genre it wouldn't be so revolutionary... I also enjoyed the story's ultimate message, which was again about morality. The narrator sums up the strange tale of Plattner's visit to the plane inhabited by the lingering spirits of mortal Earth by saying, "It may be - indeed to my mind it seems just - that, when our life has closed, when evil or good in no longer a choice for us, we may still have to witness the working out of the train of consequences we have laid." I thought this story was complex, evocative, and gorgeously written.

Aepyornis Island: While I'm not particularly interested in stories of this type, I *was* really struck by an idea - That the thing I love about Wells' speculative/science fiction writing is that he will take what he knows as a scientific fact (in his time) and run ahead with it. What you see more often in science fiction writing is an author taking an *idea*, a *possible* technology, science or political idea, and observing it as a reality in the future. Wells, on the other hand, will take a scientific *fact* and apply known scientific methods to it and evolve the idea into the future. Which has interesting results... As illustrated by this story. Wells takes some really cutting edge science of his day and makes some really sound projections based on the knowledge of his time. Unfortunately, a key element in his formula seems a bit silly to us *now* and undermines the otherwise *brilliant* science in his story. It hardly seems to matter - bravo for the effort. We see this again in The Abyss...

In the Abyss: Another bold, interesting scientific adventure. This time, to the bottom of the sea and with a bit more of a horror edge to it... I found the sea men terrifying and menacing (as Wells no doubt intended.) Again, loving the science based on science of the time, not an abstract idea/possibility.

The Cone: You have to wonder what was going on in his life at this time... Is this a manifestation of Fatal Attraction Syndrome? I find it vaguely hilarious, if yes... That men of 100 years ago had the same paranoid hang-ups as the men of today. Excellent horror story with a rather dark, dismal environmental message backdrop.

In the Modern Vein: This one was a bit shocking if you know much about Wells' actual life... I don't know what's more shocking - The detailed depiction of an extra-marital affair, the man's pathetic actions and lack of responsibility to his lover (especially if this is Wells depicting himself,) or the fact that the woman actually tells him to take a hike, she's better than that... Maybe this is the *strangest* story in the book...? :-)

Discuss/comment at: http://passionrulesme.livejournal.com/5438.html ( )
  SimPenguin | Aug 24, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0883560283, Hardcover)

This book is a replica, produced from digital images of the original. It was scanned at the University of Toronto Libraries and may contain defects, missing pages or blemishes due to the original source content. The UT libraries have worked with various digital partners to provide the best possible customer experience and hope you enjoy the results.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:28 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Originally published in 1897, Thirty Strange Stories contains such well-known stories as The Triumphs of a Taxidermist, about the outrageous exploits, both authentic and fraudulent, of a taxidermist, who then reappears in A Deal of Ostriches, a tale of a con man's exploitation of human greed after one of five ostriches swallows a precious diamond. Also included are The Stolen Bacillus about an anarchist who plans to release what he believes is a cholera bacillus into London's water supply, and The Red Room, the horrifying story of a man trapped in a haunted room, but haunted by what? With twenty-six more stories besides, this is a must-have for any fan of Wells's short fiction.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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