The Invisible Man by H.G. WellsJuly 2010
In a very old episode of This American Life (listen here), John Hodgman asks the ultimate question: Flight vs. Invisibility? It’s an amusing party topic, a fun little game to play, but there’s actually more to it than that. As a “Super Rorschach Test,” the question is difficult to answer because the two choices both tell us very different things about ourselves. Flight is noble, something we aspire to; invisibility is a more primal desire, something hidden and mysterious. There’s even a five-stage process to answering: 1) Gut reaction, 2) Practical consideration, 3) Philosophical reconsideration, 4) Self-recrimination, and 5) Acceptance. Or, in short: pick your power, explain why, doubt your answer, doubt yourself, and change your answer. Repeat as necessary.
It was hard not to scoff at his findings. Doubt? Self-recrimination? Ha! Of course I would choose flight! Who wouldn’t? Get a nice pair of aviator’s goggles, a proper trenchcoat (capes are sooo white-bread), and I’d be set. I could fly to work instead of driving, and on my days off, I’d zip out to Portland, Oregon to visit Powell’s Books. Pretty sweet deal. Except...fly to work? Days....off? Yeah, I guess I would still need a job, if I could fly. Still need to make money. Of course, if I was invisible, it wouldn’t be a problem. Getting out to Portland would be harder, but hey, I could live at Powell’s. Join the other invisible people who probably haunt the shelves. It would be pretty awesome. Wait. Did I just go through the five stages too?
Damn you, John Hodgman!
Thing is, there isn’t much to do with flight. You can’t fight crime without additional superpowers, society still expects you to follow the rules, and you still need to make money--but being That Flying Guy Who Works At The Video Store isn’t very cool, so you’ll probably end up in commercials. When Im travelling a thousand miles an hour at five hundred feet, the only thing that gets the bugs out of my teeth is-- aaaand hold up that tube of toothpaste, smile for the camera.
(Or you can try getting elected to public office, but cmon, you gotta have some dignity.)
From both a practical and literary standpoint, invisibility is far more interesting. Maybe not better, or safer, or wiser, but certainly more interesting. More potential for conflict. A story about the invisible man who comes to town makes--well, made--for a better thriller than the fantastical tale about the incredible flying man, and while I doubt H.G. Wells ever met John Hodgman at a party, or thought about the question, he probably realized the same thing.
This is why Mr. Wells didn’t create Superman--which, despite all I said earlier, is probably a big fat shame. A Victorian steampunk Super-man, pre-DC, as written by the great H.G. Wells, would’ve been awesome, The Best Thing Ever, and now I think Im going to cry.
So...whats your superpower?
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison - Summary & Analysis
Pages, Text, The Invisible Man at Wikisource. The Invisible Man is a science fiction novel by H. G. Wells. Originally serialized in Pearson's Weekly in , it was published as a novel the same year. The Invisible Man of the title is Griffin, a scientist who has devoted himself to The stranger wears a long-sleeved, thick coat and gloves; his face is hidden.
The Invisible Man
The classic dust jacket featured the outline of a man centered in what may be a scope of some kind, contradicting the inherent notion of invisibility. The author's picture is featured on the back dust jacket cover. Additionally, when you remove the dust jacket of first editions, you will see an illustration on the top half and spine of the Random House boards. That information may not be included in later printings or subsequent book club editions. Showing best matches Show all copies. What makes Biblio different? Facebook Instagram Twitter.