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H. G. Wells: The Literary Traveller in His Fantastic Short Story Machine

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Halszka Leleń

The book offers a thorough study of the literary tensions and two-world structure of the fantastic short stories by H. G. Wells (1866–1946). It exposes trickster games in the storytelling and pinpoints Wells’s staple methods of artistic composition – the mounting of various literary tensions built upon the body of traditional, dexterously combined genre elements and innovative topoi.
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Chapter 6: Trickster Strategies in the Jungle of Scientific Riddles

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Chapter 6:  Trickster Strategies in the Jungle of Scientific Riddles

Shreds of Quasi-Scientific Illumination – Misapplied Verisimilitude and Compositional Inconsequence

In the opening of “The New Accelerator,” the credibility of the story, focused on the figure of scientist and his method of scientific discovery, is undermined through a meta-conventional communication pointing to the adoption of a trickster strategy on the part of the implied author. The story focused on the new visual technologies of the cinema, such as slow motion, treats its choice of topoi as a means of engaging in metafictional commentary on the ways and means of creating a story taken from life (compare K. Williams 31). Within the first page of the story, there are numerous signals pointing to the necessity of a suspension of belief, while the surface argument and the techniques of supporting it head ostensibly for the suspension of disbelief in the incredible story. Meta-conventional communication between the implied author and implied reader is brought to the fore. When the first-person narrator introduces Professor Gibberne, he classes him as an example of one of those “investigators [that] overshoot the mark” (“The New Accelerator” 487), only to follow this with an authorising of this scientist figure through references to his appearance in some quasi-documentary sources, allegedly known to the intra-textual reader character, who is addressed directly.

Unless my memory plays me a trick, his portrait at various ages has already appeared in The Strand Magazine – I...

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