As protean, elusive but compelling as its hero, David Lodge's bio-novel about HG Wells breaks all the rules but still grips the reader – like Wells himself.
We meet the master of science fiction, social comedy and eccentric polemic near his end, in 1944. His reminiscences, firmly rooted in a range of sources, mix grumpy, entertaining interviews with a third-person narration of his hyperactive life. Body and mind interact as the great prophet – and great womaniser – switches between imagining wars of the worlds and pursuing his own struggles between the sheets.
For Lodge, his subject is a stupendous "comet" who "blazed in the... firmament for decades" but has now slipped from our sight. With affection and authority, he makes this odd visionary glow again.