The Indestructible Man

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In the title story of William Jablonsky's collection, The Indestructible Man, Bobby Mercer cannot come to terms with the physical gift—indestructibility—of his childhood rival, Romulus Wayne. Mercer cripples himself in an attempt to imitate Wayne and, consumed with resentment, devotes himself to revenge. The story of Mercer's revenge proceeds with acute psychological realism from the matter-of-fact absurdity of Romulus's super hero-like power.

Jablonsky depicts social worlds in which the presence of one surreal element stretches the bounds of reality, skews the fabric of everyday life, and suggests the possibility of seeing the ordinary world as newly extraordinary. “The Edge of Solid Ground” recounts a man's romance with a woman who believes that the world is flat. In “Schoolteacher, 30, Travels Time to Foil Murders” a man learns from his mother how to time travel and tries to use it to prevent a robbery. In “The Space Between Earth and Moon,” a man decides, after the death of his wife, to build a catapult that can shoot him to the moon.

Jablonsky's stories, in which social and scientific rules are bent in favor of imagination, often draw directly on the collision between adult and child worldviews. “For Safety's Sake,” tells of a boy who can fly, from the perspective of his skeptical, but finally inspired, father. In “Little Green Men,” a smart and precocious boy uses his short-wave radio to make contact with aliens. When he is forced to conform, he secretly leaves his work and radio to his father, who continues on with the wonder his son's vision has rekindled.