The Invisible Things

The Invisible Things A Novel

Mat Johnson2022
A sharp allegorical novel about a hidden human civilization on a Jovian moon, a crucial election, and a mysterious invisible oppressor who must not be named, by one of our most imaginative comic novelists The Delany, captained by a swashbuckling capitalist named Bob, is circling Europa--one of the moons of Jupiter--studying its atmosphere, but inside, the ship is divided into two warring camps. First there are the group of "Bobs" who slavishly follow the ship's vain, ignorant captain and who antagonize the two crew members who've run afoul of the Bobs: Dwayne and Nelani, who are studying the surface of the moon itself. But it is Dwayne and Nelani who make the ship's one and only discovery--and it's a doozy: One of their drones returns pictures of what appears to be a normal American city enclosed in a dome with a crack in its roof. When the Delany crew steers their ship closer to investigate they find themselves pulled into the domed city: New Roanoke, a city made up of generations of UFO abductees from earth, whose society is a funhouse mirror of the United States. Nelani, Dwayne, and the Bobs find themselves in the middle of an election in New Roanoke--one that hinges on the question of whether or not its inhabitants should return to Earth. The planet's dome has been cracked and is likely to crumble, its residents are terrorized by "invisible things" that toy with them--slapping them, dragging their bodies around, and sometimes smashing their skulls--and their whole society is haunted by a central mystery: Why are they there? We follow Nelani through this mirror world of our own and into the same questions of polarized politics, existential crisis, and environmental omens that obsess and divide our own. Will New Roanoke survive? Will we?
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Photo of Dave Konopka
Dave Konopka@davekonopka
4 stars
Jul 18, 2022

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