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The Stolen Bacillus and Other Incidents, by H.G. Wells Book Review | SFReader.com
The Stolen Bacillus and Other Incidents, by H.G. Wells Genre: Science Fiction Anthology Publisher: Westholme Published: 2005 Review Posted: 4/26/2007 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 10 out of 10
The Stolen Bacillus and Other Incidents, by H.G. Wells
Book Review by Phillip A. Ellis
Have you read this book?
The Stolen Bacillus, Well's first book, is a
collection of miscellaneous short stories, not all of
which could be called science fiction. There is a
range here, a diversity of themes and settings that
displays Wells' attempts to determine the direction of
his future writing career.
That science fiction, or, rather, scientific romances,
was to win out in the immediate future can be guessed
from some of these stories. There is an element of
adventure in a number of these stories, and the
settings range from India and the Orient to Britain.
Of them, the title story is only marginally
speculative. That element is in the prospect of
biological agents used in terrorism, which is, in its
way, prescient. But the story, nonetheless, retains a
contemporary feel. The fear, here, is anarchism, not
terrorism, as such, and in this way Wells was on par
with his contemporaries.
The next two stories are more speculative. Yet they
lack the scientific element that some may consider the
core of science fiction, despite science being
evident. They also lack an intellectual element, and
they point towards the humanist use of the speculative
in Wells' later novels.
There are yet others in which the speculative element
is missing. "Through a Window" is one: it is more
properly suspense fiction. It point towards the fact
that this book is really a collection of disparate
elements. Some of the stories promise of Wells'
future, some do not. Some are mundane, others bring
the unusual into the world of the mundane.
Stylistically, too, The Stolen Bacillus is an
early book, though with promise. These stories are
Wells' experiments, his attempts to see where he will
go with his writing. As a result, The Stolen
Bacillus is best enjoyed by a Wells devotee, and
those who like his tight, economic style.
Despite its attractions, the book is simply not one
that will be fully enjoyed by fans of speculative
fiction, which is a pity. Its diversity, its range of
subjects could prove salutary for many, especially
those who read speculative literature alone.
The Stolen Bacillus is worth reading. But it is
too uneven to be called a speculative book; it is a
book with some speculative elements. As a result, it
is difficult to assign a meaningful rating to the
book. It is high, 4 and a half stars, for devotees of
Wells and early speculative fiction. But, for the
general fan, is is much less attractive, rating far
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