H.G. Wells’s science fiction classic, the first novel to explore the possibilities of intelligent life from other planets, it still startling and vivid nearly after a century after its appearance, and a half-century after Orson Wells’s infamous 1938 radio adaptation. The daring portrayal of aliens landing on English soil, with its themes of interplanetary imperialism, technological holocaust and chaos, is central to the career of H.G. Wells, who died at the dawn of the atomic age. The survival of mankind in the face of “vast and cool and unsympathetic” scientific powers spinning out of control was a crucial theme throughout his work. Visionary, shocking and chilling, “The War Of The Worlds” has lost none of its impact since its first publication in 1898.
I listened to an audiobook that had two of H.G. Well’s works, the first being The Time Machine, which I enjoyed. The second story, The War of the Worlds I found to be a little slow and uninteresting at times, but was still extremely interesting to read.
An invasion from Mars seems silly today, but to people living in the 1890s, it was as real a threat as nuclear war is today. Well’s story depicts the human reaction to the invasion and the death and destruction that is causes. The novel shows humanity’s slow progression from ignorance to invulnerability, to disbelief and finally to despair. Well’s attacks his disaster day scenario in a logical and realistic manner. The invasion itself and the aliens are plausible and explained by science. As a result of this, the story truly does read like a firsthand account of an invasion from Mars.
However, I have to admit that there were many times when I lost focus on the story. The narrative sometimes got lost in over detailed accounts and repetitive scenes. Being used to stories of alien invasions filled with action and excitement, I was a little underwhelmed by this technical, precise tale. It is memorable though, and I suspect that I will always think of The War of the Worlds the next time I hear “alien invasion”.
The War of the Worlds is worthy of its status as classic science fiction, and I recommend it to all sci fi and dystopian fans.
Other books by H.G. Wells: