Invisible Man Fiction, Love to Be Invisible! You May Not After Reading/Watching These!
Since you were a kid you’ve dreamt of nothing better than being able to be in the same room as that certain someone you like as they get undressed with them having no idea you’re even there. Or maybe as you go older you wanted to listen in on confidential conversations, get stock or business tips or even become a career criminal. Invisibility may well seem like the ultimate thing to aspire to become, but if you’ve read the following books you might well change your mind. Life isn’t actually that easy for those who can’t be seen. They have to be naked all the time when in public, can’t eat anything for ages as people could see it digesting, there’s usually evil people chasing after you and trying to track you down and yeah earning money is a bit hard when no one can see that you’ve turned up to work.
A fascinating topic, you’d think every author would have a go but surprisingly not many have. You’ve also got a number of books that from their title seem like they’re going to be an invisible man adventure then turn out to be about racism, God, guardian angels, eating disorders and other although worthwhile topics, not really what you were after. Purpose of this page is to tell you what’s out there (note there’s also stuff like Harry Potter and books that have a few pages of someone using an invisible cloak or something, but these books and movies are where the main story is about being invisible).
Adult Fiction Titles
Memoirs of an Invisible Man, H.F. Saint – The best of this genre by far. Accident in New Jersey occurs and Nick becomes invisible, then is hunted by the government while he must cope with this new disability. Nick keeps discovering just being invisible isn’t enough not to be seen, other aspects such as rain, shadows, food and so on all come into play when you’re trying to keep a low profile.
Smoke, Donald E. Westlake – Classic invisible man masterpiece! A thief breaks into a lab, gets caught by scientists who decide to experiment on him. He escapes and the next thing he knows is invisible. Which obviously has its benefits for a criminal. One of the best reads in this genre, and importantly also doesn’t ignore the fact that food digesting inside a person isn’t invisible.
The Invisible Man, H.G. Wells – Classic 1897 written adventure about a strange bandaged man who comes to stay at a hotel, is turned on by bigoted small town folk (who don’t actually know he’s invisible at the time but assume he’s an undesirable sort of person anyway), and decides to get his vengeance. Many people mistakenly believe that Wells invented the invisible man as a topic/creature but of course there were stories before his time. His character wrapped with bandages around his head as if he has severe head injuries has been used by many cartoons and others to depict what an invisible man looks like in popular culture so he sort of invented that.
The Visible Man, a Novel by Chuck Klosterman, is about a therapist who recounts her tale of patient called Y___ who became invisible due to his his scientific work which has resulted in the invention of a suit and cream that allows him to be in a room with someone and they are oblivious to the fact he is there.
Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore. This fun eccentric character filled comedy horror novel has an ancient reptilian demon named Catch who is invisible except when he’s in eating mode. You don’t ever want to see him, if you do it means you’re on the menu! A Talent for the Invisible by Ron Goulart is set in the year 2020 (book was written in 1973 so they expected us to be living in space by then), Jack Conger an operative of the Wild Talents Division of the U.S. Remedial Functions Agency, has the ability to make himself invisible.
There’s also The Murderer Invisible by Philip Wylie, The Invisible Man by Michael John, Invisible by Edel Wignell and Invisible Dick (character’s name not a porn book, 1926 written adventure) by Frank Topham.
Adult Fiction Short Stories
INVISIBLE MEN: The Weissenbroch Spectacles; The Shadow and the Flash; The New Accelerator; Invisible Boy; The Invisible Prisoner; Love in the Dark; What Was It; The Vanishing American; Shottle Bop; The Invisible Man Murder Case, various authors. Like any anthology by various authors there are some really good stories in here but also a few average fillers. Stories inside this 1960 published collection weren’t written any later than the year 1958 and even included some from the 1800s including the first known as far as I am aware published invisible man story (1859) by Fitz-James O’Brien called What Was It? Note if you can’t track down this anthology that great story is also found in a book called Fifty Great American Short Stories. What Was It? is actually the best story in this collection which also includes some stories not actually involving an invisible man such as the Invisible Prisoner, which is also a really good French story but yeah technically it shouldn’t probably be here.
A basic summary of the short stories inside this anthology are –
1. The Weissenbroch Spectacles by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt (not that good) – loner finds a rare rock to turn into the lenses for x-ray glasses.
2. The Shadow and the Flash, Jack London (not that good)- Invisible man theory that primary colours can turn something invisible especially if you find an absolute black.
3. The New Accelerator by H.G. Wells – (all right but more of a plot skeleton than short story) about a couple of guys who experiment with a new invention that lets them move really quickly, a hazard is the side effects that if you move to fast you catch on fire!
4. Invisible Boy by Ray Bradbury (pretty good) – A con artist witch wants the company of a little boy so tells him she has turned him invisible so he won’t return home where she says his family will hate him.
5. Invisible Prisoner by Maurice LeBlanc (very good but not an invisible man story) – A thief in a small French village violently assaults and robs a woman, he flees into the backyard where the woman’s sons and husband cannot find him but know he’s there.
6. Love in the Dark by H.L. Gold (not that good) – An ugly woman marries a man she doesn’t love or much like because she can’t do any better. As she goes to sleep in the dark she realises there is another man in her room who pleasures her while her husband sleeps.
7. What Was it? by Fitz-James O’Brien (very good) – a boarder is moved to a supposed haunted house by the landlady and after a day smoking Opium wakes up due to the fact that he is being strangled. When he finally gets control of the situation, restrains his attacker and lights the candle beside his bed he cannot see his attacker at all. Brought to his doorway by the commotion, only one other boarder will help him restrain the invisible man creature and as the days go on they wonder what they are going to do with it, the landlady wants it out, they tell her to dispose of it then, she refuses so they decide to feed it and see what will happen.
8. The Invisible Dove Dancer of Strathpheen Island by John Collier (not that good) – A couple of guys see some doves acting strangely and obviously perching on the body of a female dove handler. One being into womens’ underwear realises this woman has the perfect figure and is determined to catch her and force her to be his wife.
9. The Vanishing American by Charles Beaumont (average) – Office worker realises he is becoming more and more invisible to his colleagues and family and eventually believes no one can see him so decides to fulfill his life ambition to ride the library steps lion.
10. Shottle Bop by Theodore Sturgeon – (average non invisible man story) A guy goes into a shop with this stories title and meets a little man with a speech impediment who dislikes him and makes him buy a bottle. He drinks it then realises he can talk to and see the dead.
11. The Invisible Man Murder Case by Henry Slesar (very good and also available in The Seven Deadly Sins of Science Fiction) A writer investigates a unique serial killer and discovers the brother of the latest victim is a scientist who has invented sulfaboranium a substance that turned his cat and other objects invisible. He must capture the invisible man killer before he is the next victim!
Knights of Madness, various authors – Various author anthology on various topics
but contains the story by Robert Bloch (guy who wrote Hitchcock’s Psycho), called The Little Man Who Wasn’t All There. A man is hired to guard the props of a magician from rivals. Rabbits splash water on his suit coat so he borrows one of the magicians which turns the wearer invisible.
Legacy Of The Invisible Man, by Dave Ulanski – This a very thin book, no thicker than the old superhero comics you probably read as a kid that takes about 20 minutes to finish. This is a fairly basic story, I guess the word count (or page count whatever comic books use) meant the authors couldn’t really take it anywhere other than pretty much a skeleton plot outline. The outline is basically a young man named Wayland is told in the last breaths of his grandfather that there are some diaries that have been passed down from generation to generation. These belonged originally to Griffin (the scientist who was the invisible man in H G Wells’ classic novel). Since the authors or publishers probably figure a lot of their readers haven’t read that book they spend quite a few of the small number of pages in this comic book rehashing that story. Anyway he decides having an invisible man for the hotel he has just inherited will really fill it up, so tracks down some long lost relative of Griffin’s in America and hires him to make sense of the diaries and make an invisible man. Of course greed and betrayal mean nothing goes smoothly. Not much really happens at all in this story, unless you’re a huge invisible man genre fan, I’d give this a miss.
The Nobody, Jeff Lemire – Drawn in light blue, black and white, and if artwork is your reason for reading, you may get more out of it than me. I found that The Nobody hasn’t really added anything new that hasn’t appeared in other works of fiction in this genre (non graphic as well as graphic novels). In fact it is pretty much a retelling of elements of H G Wells’ novel in a different although similar location. It is no where near as detailed or well written as that plot though, and a lot less happens here. A unique way to hide a corpse, a lonely child’s obsession with a mysterious stranger are all that haven’t appeared before in Invisible man genre literature.
Invisible Dirty Old Man, Richard McEnroe – another sequel to the H.G. Wells story where instead of trying to kill everyone like in the original, this one’s invisible man decides to commit crimes against women.
Ivor the Invisible by Raymond Briggs reads more like it is the storyboard submitted to investors for the animated film then a complete story. Since the cover mentions this is also available on VHS and DVD I think that’s exactly what it is. About a boy named John, who makes an annoying invisible friend who gets up to all kinds of trouble. Ivor has a secret though that will terrify John. Your Pajamas are Showing by Michel-Yves Schmitt is also a children’s graphic novel, but a lot better one. A boy can turn himself invisible and torments his sister as well as plays pranks on others such as passing gas in a room so someone else will get blamed. Also has a sequel Snowball Truce!
The Farside Gallery by Gary Larson. What’s a Far Side collection doing on this list you ask? Well the classic Far Side of the father who has obviously just told his son his invisible friend isn’t real being held up by his shirt collar by an invisible man and his son saying “Big Bob is tired of you saying he doesn’t exist!” is in the original Far Side Gallery.
Where’s My Jetpack: A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future That Never Arrived by Daniel H. Wilson explores a heap of science fiction promises including the invisible man. What’s unique about Wilson’s entry is he gives an actual credible way for someone in the future to become invisible involving wearing miniature cameras and projectors. I really hope some fiction writers pick this idea.
Young Adult Fiction Novels
Things Not Seen, Andrew Clements – Great young adult novel where a teenager wakes up, shocked to find he’s invisible. He and his parents plan to come up with a cure while keeping him safe from the government and media. However a jeep runs a red light and ploughs into his parents’ car. Bobby must venture naked into the outside world, can he hide his invisibility from a hot blind girl? A few sequels as well.
How to Be Invisible, Tim Lott – The narrator and main character is a 13 year old boy who formerly lived a happy school life in an advanced London school. However at his mother’s insistence due to issues in her relationship with his father, the family has moved away from London to a small English town where it’s hard to make friends at school if you’re smart. Also throw in the fact you’re the only dark skinned kid in the school and other than one of your teachers, the only dark skinned person in the entire town. One day while truanting from school and visiting second hand book stores, he goes down an alleyway that he hadn’t noticed before. At the end is a bookstore that has no customers and at first seemingly no staff. When he follows signs down a few levels he encounters the owner who gives him a book. Eager to escape the place he takes it, when he gets home he notices it has no writing in it and goes to throw it away, but notices some text in the mirror when he is putting it in the bin. However he can’t see it when looking at it, he eventually stumbles on the fact that if he runs into the mirror holding the book he will turn completely invisible.
Fade by Robert Cormier is about a 13 year old who discovers he can fade into invisibility. This is one of those books some conservative extremist types have called to be banned, at least to the teen market its written for due to some of the stuff the boy witnesses or does while invisible.
My Invisible Sister by Beatrice Colin is about is frustrated by his invisible sister’s actions which keep forcing him to move schools. The whole book is told through her younger brother Frank’s perspective, so she’s not in the action the whole time. It probably works better that way. There’s no scientific lab disaster or anything like this behind her visibility. The source of her invisibility is simply due to her being born that way. She has a rare condition called Formus Disappearus meaning society doesn’t freak out in terror when they encounter her because they know people like her exist. The only thing that isn’t explained though is how her clothing turns invisible, originally I had assumed she was just walking around everywhere nude, but about half way through the book you find out if she puts on clothes they go invisible too. This obviously removes quite a few opportunities for the storyline to go in that many other books in this genre venture down. Instead the book concentrates on the problems of the visible brother and reads fairly much like a standard non invisible boy tale with the normal hurdles of being a new kid in town, dealing with parents when your sister frames you for things (her invisibility does add some uniqueness to this), bullies, younger stinky and sticky neighbourhood children, being embarrassed in front of classmates, upsetting your best friend with stupid behaviour and so forth.
Junior Fiction and Picture Books
Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich by Adam Rex, well invisible men make a few appearances in this collection of humorous rhyming short stories covering a wide range of horror favourites. Griffin (from H.G. Well’s classic tale) has story where he gets a haircut. An invisible man makes a snow angel on the opening credits page, one appears on The Hunchback’s milk carton asking Have You Seen This Man? We learn on page 24 to locate them with paint. The Invisible Man by Arthur Yorinks revolves around Sy, a greengrocer who becomes invisible, it’s never explained why, but likely is karma from telling gulible customers his fruit can cure all kinds of things, so he decides to Griffin style wrap himself in bandages so he can working. The public assume he is hiding his identity because his fruit is dodgy and stop shopping there. Enraged Sy swears he will have his vengeance. Disappointingly he doesn’t get up to much. In Slightly Invisible by Lauren Child, a brother and his friend make an invisibility potion to get rid of an annoying sister, however she outwits them both.
R.L Stine has written two in his Goosebumps Series, My Best Friend is Invisible is the better one. – A kid named Sammy notices food disappearing and works out there’s someone who’s invisible living in his house. Trent an invisible boy is obsessed with becoming Sammy’s best friend even though Sammy just wants him to go away. Let’s Get Invisible – A mirror inside a room in an attic makes 12 year old Max and his friends invisible. Unfortunately being invisible doesn’t feel too good after a while. His health isn’t the only thing he should fear though! To be honest this book is a pretty average story for this genre. You’ll also find these books turned into TV episodes on Goosebumps DVDs which you’ll find in GCCC libraries. There’s also an invisible boy in the Goosebumps movie. You Are Invisible, Susan Saunders – You must remember the old Choose Your Own Adventure books from the 80’s. Well one was about about two kids who come across a cloak of invisibility while cleaning the attic. There’s quite a few Invisible Inc. stories by Elizabeth Levy. They are about a group of kids who solve mysteries. One of these kids is named chip and he’s invisible. The Invisible Day, Marthe Jocelyn – Billie steals a cosmetics bag and uses some of the powder inside on herself. It turns her invisible. There’s also a sequel called The Invisible Harry where Billie turns her dog invisible.
Invisible Stanley, Jeff Brown – Stanley becomes invisible simply due to eating fruit while a thunderstorm is raging outside, which is apparently a documented medical occurrence by others as well. He takes his new disability in his stride and decides to help people. The Invisible Man’s Socks , Alex Shearer – A school class checks out the Museum of Little Horrors. Feeling they’ve been ripped off and with no staff around they start playing with and making fun of the exhibits. That evening each child or teacher exhibits symptoms of the exhibit they touched and ridiculed (belonging to werewolf, vampire, mummy, medusa, cannibal, Frankenstein’s monster, cyclops, strangler etc). A kid called Michael, picked up the socks. The Invisible Fran (Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist), Jim Benton – This sensational series about a little girl who is a mad scientist has a book where inspired by a chameleon swallowing her pet dog Igor, Fran decides to become invisible (by mixing and drinking chameleon DNA, cellophane and invisible ink), to make her classmates want to be mad scientists too. There’s also Invisible Matilda Mudpuddle by Gordon Winch.
Invisible Pets and Animals
Four legged invisible ones, are the subject of quite a few junior fiction books (and a few movies). Invisible Dog, Dick King-Smith – The author of the junior novel which the film Babe was based on has written a great tale about a dog named Henry. Janie’s walks Henry her dog on a lead freaking her parents and everyone else around her out as only she and the old lady down the street can see Henry. Okay, its a dog not a human but come on… dogs are man’s best friend! If you’re into the lesser species you can try out a series by Pip Jones called Squishy Mcfluff. Ava finds a cat only she can see which she takes home that gets up to all kinds of mischief. Selby’s Shemozzle, Duncan Ball is 13th collection of Selby the talking dog short stories has a tale of him being turned invisible by a magician, then two subsequent sequels while he’s still invisible where he saves a girl from being robbed and assaulted by two men in an alley, saves an old woman from being run over, prevents an armed robbery, proposes marriage on behalf of a nervous guy and does many other good deeds.
Two not very good movies about invisible dogs are Dude, Where’s My Dog and Abner the Invisible Dog. If you prefer native wildlife that goes invisible you can’t go past the Australian classic Mem Fox’s Possum Magic, where the invisible one is a possum. If you prefer Canadian native wildlife The Invisible Moose by Dennis Hasely may be what you’re after. Also don’t miss the popular most school detentions getting girl teaming up with the socially unpopular smart kid to capture his cat, which he has made both invisible as well as huge, in How to Capture an Invisible Cat by Paul Tobin.
Invisible Man Films
A lot of the above mentioned books have movie versions, sometimes they are so vastly different to the novel that shares their title that they might as well be completely different story. Such as was the case with the Chevy Chase as the main character adaptation of Memoirs of an Invisible Man. Even the 1933 movie based on the most well known story of this genre, H.G. Wells’ 1897 novel of the same name. Although having the same main character and set in one of the towns from the book, it is pretty much only about 20% following the storyline of Wells’ novel. This movie has characters and scenes which aren’t in the novel such as Griffin (the invisible man) having a fiancé (played by Gloria Stewart an actress who when grew old became that annoying elderly lady in Titanic) who also has a father, another scientist who isn’t in the novel either. Griffin didn’t burn down his apartment in this movie in fact the most interesting scenes from the Wells’ book where Griffin recounts his adventures in the department store and the city of London when he first became invisible to Dr Kemp are not in this movie at all.
James Whale has also added a fair bit of humour to Wells’ novel and a fair amount of new very entertaining scenes such as train crashes, Kemp’s car cliff diving, and toying with and taunting the townsfolk which all make the 68 minute movie extremely enjoyable. The biggest difference is that Griffin’s madness is more blamed on a drug called monocaine in this movie whereas in the Wells’ book although Griffin was never the nicest guy, his desire for murder and mayhem was created by his disgusting treatment by the bigoted town folk as well as the betrayal and stealing of his possessions including his notes (the one’s he dropped to Kemp out of the window in the film) which he needed to make himself a cure by those he enlisted to help him. There is sensational debut acting by Claude Rains as Griffin, but also some bad overacting in the film especially Una O’Connor as the landlady (who reminds me of Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies rather than the landlady from Wells’ book) and some pathetic attempts at English accents by bar patrons and towns folk, but other than that the black and white movie has more than stood the test time. Of course Griffin would go onto become one of Universal Studio’s classic Universal Monsters and would appear in various TV shows, cartoons, and as toys and collectible figures (the first movie figure I ever bought when I became old at 30 and it became compulsory to collect something, so I chose Griffin, who you can see on this page). There was also a TV show that went for two seasons. The movie had some sequels as well. According to JB Hifi’s Stack magazine, another adaption of Well’s novel is to be remade in 2017, with Johnny Depp as Griffin. Be interesting to see what they do.
There was also a 1950’s TV show bizarrely titled H G Wells’ Invisible Man even though it has absolutely nothing to do with H G Wells’ novel nor the character Griffin. Dr Peter Brady a scientist has successfully turned lab animals invisible. A lapse of attention one day, he turns himself invisible and flees the laboratory when they try and contain him. He quickly makes a deal with the government to work for them if they’ll let him continue with his work so he can find a way to make himself visible again. Only the government has plans for Brady to be a secret agent which although he is reluctant, soon discovers he is quite good at. Soon Brady is rescuing a hostage from the Middle East, boarding Russian ships and using his invisibility to the government’s advantage. In his spare time he’s also preventing murders all the while hoping to find the formula to make himself visible again. It’s not very good, but you might want to check it out.
Other invisible man films include –
Hollow Man – Basically scientist’s (one being Elisabeth Shue) make a guy invisible (Kevin Bacon) who turns on them and trys to kill them. Not the best movie of this genre. Then obviously getting the money before the first one bombed they made Hollow Man 2! The invisible man is now Christian Slater (a soldier) who does the same thing Kevin Bacon did.
Now You See Him, Now You Don’t – In 1972 Disney made a film starring Kurt Russel about a student who discovers a product that turns things invisible including people which is used to save their university.
A great low budget Australian film called Griff the Invisible has Ryan Kwanten playing a socially awkward man who has the mindset of a child at times, but is also at least in his mind a genius. He doesn’t have any friends and believes this is so, as he would put them in danger since his destiny is to fight criminals in his neighbourhood. He is bullied at work, and is determined to finish his invisibility suit to help him fight crime better, while his brother wants him to act normal, and his brother’s new girlfriend tries to become his friend.
Invisible Dad – Kids movie, a widow and his son buy a house that used to belong to an inventor who has disappeared (abducted by aliens says a weird neighbour). The son finds and puts together a machine that grants wishes. After being told off wishing a Pamela Anderson type TV character to the house the son mumbles I wish my father would disappear. Of course if you have films about invisible dads, you have to make…
Invisible Mom – A housewife drinks her husband (an inventor’s) invisibility potion. There’s also a sequel where that family adopt an orphan whose evil cousins want his money. It has Justin Berfield in it, (kid who plays Reese in Malcolm in the Middle). Both movies were still misspelled when released on DVD in Australia, but granted were sold for $2 each in Crazy Clarks along with Invisible Dad before they went into receivership.
Mom’s Outta Sight – Another movie made to go straight the discount movie shelf in dollar , where the mother becomes invisible, this time she’s the wife of a professor and has to save his invention and the world from his evil assistant.
Orloff and the Invisible Man – 1970 horror film about a doctor summoned to the castle of Professor Orloff where he meets his attractive daughter who tells him a terrifying invisible ape man is in the castle.
Harvey – A pooka (giant invisible rabbit) is best friend to Elwood, a friendly good mannered man (James Stewart) but their relationship is an embarrassment to his snobby sister who tries to have him committed to a mental asylum. This is actually quite a good movie, made back in 1950. Along the same lines is Invisible Child – A mother has three children only her husband and the rest of the world can only see two of them. Her family plays along with what they assume is her delusional mind.
Invisible Sister – A made for TV movie for the Disney Channel where a nerdy teenager tries to turn a moth invisible for her science project but ends up turning her older popular sister invisible too.
Escape to Witch Mountain (original version) – These freaky little kids with all kinds of strange powers give a corrupt overweight sheriff his comeuppance by creating their own invisible man from a coat, map and hat which gives him quite a beating! Not the main storyline of this great movie and technically not a real person who becomes invisible for the selection requirements of this list but it is still an invisible man and not a ghost.