Saturday, 17 May 2014

War of the Worlds - H.G. Wells

War of the Worlds
By H.G. Wells
Reviewed by Jeff
Published:March 12th 2002 (First published in 1897)
Publisher: Modern Library
Pages: 192
ISBN: 0375759239

“No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own.” Thus begins one of the most terrifying and morally prescient science fiction novels ever penned. Beginning with a series of strange flashes in the distant night sky, the Martian attack initially causes little concern on Earth. Then the destruction erupts—ten massive aliens roam England and destroy with heat rays everything in their path. Very soon humankind finds itself on the brink of extinction. H. G. Wells raises questions of mortality, man’s place in nature, and the evil lurking in the technological future—questions that remain urgently relevant in the twenty-first century. (Goodreads)
Ultimately one of the first "invasion" type sci-fi novels, Wells puts together an interesting, drawn out account of a Martian attack on earth. It is broken into two different sections, one from the viewpoint of the narrators brother, and the latter view from the narrator himself. As I have mentioned, the classics are always a tough read and this is no exception. I am a huge sci-fi fan, and it took me awhile to get through this one. With Wells, you get a lot of descriptive narrative, whereas he spends a ton of time making the reader aware of minute details that perhaps would be skipped by authors of today's age. Considering that Wells wrote this around 1898, the ideas and themes he was drawing on had really never been done before. Wells and Verne are really the only widely known authors that were beginning to dip into the sci-fi genre at that time. I enjoyed the book, but I must say the second half is much more exciting then the first half. If you are expecting lots of action, look elsewhere, this is a hugely humanistic outlook on an alien invasion. It is not chalk full of lasers and space ships and the like that have taken over the sci-fi genre. What you get instead is a intrinsic human perception, and struggle to come to terms with and overcome the sudden and complete taking over of human culture and society. Without giving away spoilers, I thought it was interesting that some of the ideas that Wells uses had as of yet never been actually used in modern application. I do believe this was one of the first novels to introduce a form of chemical warfare, that as of that time had not come to fathom in war usage. In the end as I have mentioned, I definitely think this is a crucial read for sci-fi fans, as it gives some insight into the foundations of the genre. But be prepared for a drawn out, slow paced read, which is commonplace in the classical literature framework. 

4/5 Carls

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