Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells

I love reading these old stories and being able to see where modern writers get their ideas. This book is the Jurassic Park of 115 years ago! Throw in some Lord of The Flies, Animal Farm, and Frankenstein, and you've got The Island of Dr. Moreau. This is some good, creepy stuff.

Edward Prendick is a regular guy with the misfortune of being shipwrecked and stranded on an island, home to a couple of scientists who have been tinkering with biology (bioengineering, perhaps? Vivisection, is actually the term Victorians used to describe the act of dissecting a living body. . .ugh ) to create whole new types of animals, many of them humanized. So these scientists would cut apart, say, a leopard, a man, a hyena, and a pig, mix up the parts and put them together again as two new beings: Leopard-Man and Hyena-Swine. The new creatures were used as slave labour and adhered to a set of rules, devised by the scientists, known as 'The Law'. They were allowed to colonize and roam, but were not smart enough to know how to do anything else until . . .

Oh man. Weird. I won't say anymore because there is a great sense of foreboding and suspense right from the get-go.

What did he want with the beasts? Why, too, had he pretended they were not his when I had remarked about them at first? Then again, in his personal attendant there was a bizarre quality that had first impressed me profoundly. These circumstances threw a haze of mystery round the man. They laid hold of my imagination and hampered my tongue. pg22

It may seem a little thing to you, perhaps, but it came like a sudden blow to me. The only light near us was a lantern at the wheel. The creature's face was turned for one brief instant out of the dimness of the stern towards this illumination, and I saw that the eyes that glanced at me shone with a pale green light. pg24

I was struck especially with the curious movements of the legs of the three swathed and bandaged boatmen - not stiff they were, but distorted in some odd way, almost as if they were jointed in the wrong place. pg35

I wondered what language they spoke. They had all seemed remarkably taciturn, and when they did speak, endowed with very uncanny voices. What was wrong with them? pg42

"He's unnatural," I said. "There's something about him . . . Don't think me fanciful, but it gives me a nasty little sensation, a tightening of my muscles, when he comes near me. It's a touch . . . of the diabolical, in fact." pg48

Could it be possible, I thought, that such a thing as the vivisection of men was possible? The question shot like lightening across a tumultuous sky. And suddenly the clouded horror of my mind condensed into a vivid realization of my danger. pg68

A horrible fancy came into my head that Moreau, after animalizing these men, had infected their dwarfed brains with a kind of deification of himself. pg81

Book #3 - check!

10 comments:

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I'm embarrassed to admit that I've only seen the movie... and the most recent one at that. I also love to read an older story to see how contemporary writers are affected. I need to read this one...

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

I love H.G. Wells! I agree with you that this one is very creepy, although I did feel as though it was more of an 'issues' book than a story.

My review:
http://tinylibrary.blogspot.com/2011/03/island-of-doctor-moreau-by-hg-wells.html

Trish said...

Natalie - It would take some pretty spectacular special effects to make a movie like this. The book is a quick read and pretty cool read.

Sam - Yes, the issues! I didn't even touch on those because I wouldn't know where to begin. Ethics perhaps? I'll be looking out for more HG wells books now, that's for sure.

Beth said...

Based on your first paragraph, you are very well read – as if I (and you) didn’t know that!
Have never read this book. It sounds intriguing but gruesome & disturbing. I’ll put it on my list but wait for the right time to read it. The time certainly isn’t now – the last few books I’ve read have been disturbing. I need a break...

Tracy said...

This one sounds a little too creepy for me, even though I've read and enjoyed all of the books you alluded to. I read my first HG Wells sci-fi book, The Time Machine, this summer (I'll draw a veil over The History of Mr Polly, which we were forced to read at school) but so far, that's the only one. I need to read some Jules Verne too.

Trish said...

Beth - yes, disturbing! But it was just what I was in the mood for. There's something about misty fall evenings that compels me to read weird books like this.

Tracy - I like seeing how these old authors do science fiction. Some of their ideas are pretty cool, not to mention the issues they bring up.

Heidi'sbooks said...

Sounds like you are ready for Halloween!

Trish said...

Yes! I love this time of year.

bookswithoutanypictures said...

So I'm embarrassed to say this, but...

When I was in eighth grade, my school put on a play based on this book. I played the part of a monkey who had been turned into a girl, and my part only had two lines (in addition to hooting and jumping around). Thank god this was before Youtube became as popular as it is now, or that play would come back to haunt me...

Trish said...

Ha! That must have been quite a performance :)

We all got a way with a lot of stuff before YouTube, didn't we?