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on 28 July 2010
These thoughtful and largely sci-fi themed short stories are literary Marmalade - full of zest and interesting chewy bits, nicely suspended in a well made and rich structure but somewhat old fashioned and strangely masculine. Not everyone will want to take the lid off but recommended for those who enjoy invention.

I thought this collection of short stories was fantastic when I read it as a young teenager and many of them have stuck in my mind - especially the title piece - so I was really looking forward to a second helping. However, I'm forced to agree with the comment in the introduction that 12 is the perfect age to enjoy this volume, because Well's power of imagination imposed on a mind of that age is like nothing else experienced. Older readers will be more inclined to regard his ideas as simply amusing diversions, partly because they are not built into the structure of a full blown novel and partly because his science is 100 years old but, in my view, if Wells had turned almost any of them into a novella they would have equalled Jekyll and Hyde, Frankenstein or his own War of the Worlds. Wells understood the limitation of these stories and makes it clear in his introduction that they are something to be dipped into for between 15 and 50 minutes and nothing more. He certainly wouldn't have approved of reading this cover-to-cover as I did, and he would be right because rather oddly there is a tendency to become impatient with a very short story in order to get onto the next one, rather than letting go and simply enjoying the piece.

Despite their brevity, Well's traditionally muscular prose is not diluted and his landscapes and characters are surprisingly fully formed. His creativity and acute observation are used to build each little world and he puts the various characters through a range of emotions from love to loss through fear and detest. In general the lead characters are men and it is difficult to get away from the idea that this is a man's book - although I am hostile to that concept. Partly this is because most of the stories have a sci-fi angle to them and that tends to be a boyish pre-occupation, and partly because the worlds he conjures up are slightly clubby or tribal. That said, at least three of them have a love story at their heart and moreover they often capture the feeling of their male characters slipping in and out of control that is a feature of the best women's writing.

The range of ideas is fantastic and includes a viperous and decrepit old man who body steals from the fit and young, a dead man who comes back as a moth, a prehistoric tale of love, bravery and primitive technology, a patent medicine that slows down other people's time, and the terrific Land of the Blind where a sighted traveller seeks and fails to become king, and is left agreeing to surgery so that he can lose the disadvantages of sight. It only becomes clear what fabulous invention Well's has deployed if you try to plausibly construct such a story in your own mind.

If you are a teenager, or young at heart, and interested in ideas then you will greatly enjoy this book.
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on 27 January 2011
this book is the first HG Wells i have read, which i think is a different way round of doing it... but i have other books of his i intend to read!
anyway, the imagination and writing and everything is just amazing! and because it's short stories you can leave this on the bedside table for months without touching it, then pick it up again and read a whole story in one evening. even though they are 'short' stories, you don't feel cheated or in want of more, or lost even because the characters and plot are perfectly developed and presented! i love this book and i intend to read from it again and again!
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on 2 September 2011
I have been a fan of H G Wells since my youth and I would say his short stories are essential to anyone's library. Having ploughed through The War Of The Worlds recently (I don't usually like novels) I think that it is in the short story that the greatness of his fiction lies. My favourite stories are The Moth, The Cone (both included here), The Diamond Maker, The Flowering Of The Strange Orchid, The Man With A Nose, The Apple (not included here). This book is good, with a decent-sized typeface, but H G Wells's appeal requires a second volume containing the rest of the short stories.
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on 23 June 2015
I really liked these stories and especially the title story. H. G. Wells is a fascinating writer. Now I am going to try out The Selected Stories of Morley Roberts, which I notice have just been published and promise to be immensely interesting like those of Wells.
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on 5 October 2014
When Wells is good he is very good. Unfortunately, only a few of the stories here are of that standard. Examples of the best are the title story and The Moth, a marvellous tale of scientific discovery that borrows the form of a ghost story. Of the rest, something is lacking in the way of development. An initial premise is set up and the consequences are left to play out like clockwork, leaving little surprise for the reader. However, there is generally something of interest in them and in even the weakest tales Wells's prose glides along elegantly. The subjects include the difficulties of flight, mystical visions, prehistoric man, social injustice and the progress of science. It's fairly typical Wells then, just not as polished as his novels.
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on 3 April 2014
although the plot of many of these stories is promising, the actusl writing ang flow of the prose is disappointing. Title story is excellent but rest are uneven
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on 24 April 2009
I first read this as a boy and loved it. Wells had such a vivid imagination and such a gift with words. It's still great and the best introduction to the work of the grand/father of modern science fiction.
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on 20 May 2009
Wonderful and diverse selection of stories from a writer whose every sentence (almost) is enjoyable in itself.
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