The War of the Worlds by H G Wells - Amazing Book

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					The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells

                                Amazing Book,

This is the granddaddy of all alien invasion stories, first published by H.G.
Wells in 1898. The novel begins ominously, as the lone voice of a narrator
tells readers that 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 mans...      Things then progress from a series
of seemingly mundane reports about odd atmospheric disturbances taking
place on Mars to the arrival of Martians just outside of London. At first the
Martians seem laughable, hardly able to move in Earths comparatively
heavy gravity even enough to raise themselves out of the pit created when
their spaceship landed. But soon the Martians reveal their true nature as
death machines 100-feet tall rise up from the pit and begin laying waste to
the surrounding land. Wells quickly moves the story from the countryside
to the evacuation of London itself and the loss of all hope as Englands
military suffers defeat after defeat. With horror his narrator describes how
the Martians suck the blood from living humans for sustenance, and how
its clear that man is not being conquered so much a corralled. --Craig E.

First thing first - THE WAR OF THE W ORLDS is what they used to call "a
cracking good yarn". Wells knew that his readers were picking up his work
primarily to take off on a fantastic adventure, and he did not disappoint,
delineating a thrilling, chilling "scientific romance" with the skill of a born
storyteller. Certainly the narrative won't pack quite the same punch to
today's more jaded reader as it did in the late 19th century, but its power to
haunt is still very much present; I doubt that there are many images in the
history of fiction more nightmarish than a monstrous Martian tripod bearing
down on a panicked mob of hapless humans.

If WOTW stopped there, it would be remebered primarily as fodder for big-
screen popcorn flicks, the text itself largely forgotten. As it is, the novel
today is routinely hailed as a classic and has, rather incredibly, stayed
continuously in print since it was first published 112(!) years ago. There
are, I think, a couple of good reasons for this. First of all, unlike the
majority of science fiction before, say, Ray Bradbury came along, Wel ls
could actually write - he was a respectibly good prose stylist. This is
demonstrated especially well in the opening and closing chapters of the
novel and in the cutting humor of the narrator's rejoinders to the character
known as "the curate," a hysterical clergyman I found to be eerily
reminiscent of contemporary televangelist/wackjob Pat Robertson ("Think
of what earthquakes and floods, wars and volcanoes, have done before to
men!", the narrator tells him, as the curate identifies the Martian invasion
as the Apocalypse of the Lord; "Do you think God had exempted
Weybridge? He is not an insurance agent.")

The other reason I believe W OTW remains as relevant (if not moreso)
today as it was the day it was published is this: WOTW was written at a
time when the British Empire was wantonly using its military might to get
what it wanted - sometimes (as Wells himself points out in the opening
chapter) wiping out entire populations with apparent carelessness. With
WOTW, Wells was attempting to illustrated to his (mostly British)
readership how the shoe might feel on the other foot. How does this relate
to us? Well, I doubt this is a popular point to make, and I'm sure I'll get
more than a few "not helpful" votes for saying this (go ahead and click on
the button if you feel you need to - it's right down there), but America has
not made a lot of friends with its own foreign policy over the years, and we
have experienced events that have (hopefully) given US pause and have
(hopefully) made US see how the shoe feels on the other foot. I am not
trying to justify the actions of either ourselves or our enemies here -
personally, I find violence in almost any form repugnant and feel that it
almost always creates more problems than it solves - I'm simply trying to
suggest that a novel like this one may be helpful in bringing some
important matters into perspective for the contemporary reader.

In conclusion, let me simply say this is as excellent a novel for modern
readers as it was for readers of the past, and one that set the bar very high
indeed for those who would follow in Wells' footsteps.

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