The War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds

Book - 2005
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After Martians land on Earth just outside of London in the late nineteenth century, an Englishman tries to find his wife while the British military and human technology fail in their efforts to stop the Martians, which have begun to kill and feed off of humans. Includes a biographical essay on the author, introduction, and textual notes.
Publisher: London ; New York : Penguin Books, 2005
ISBN: 9780329426422
0329426427
9780141441030
0141441038
Branch Call Number: SF WELLS
Characteristics: xxxvi, 199 p. ; 20 cm
Additional Contributors: Parrinder, Patrick

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CosmicEnergy
Jan 31, 2018

A classic science fiction piece, Wells' tale of a martian invasion of Earth is without a doubt the best known of the author's several outstanding books. Gigantic cylinders housing the martian colonists smash into Victorian England, bringing widespread destruction and death with them. The first part of the book switches between two characters: the narrator himself, who is accompanied by an artilleryman and then a curate, and the narrator's brother, who witnesses the general panic and mayhem as London is attacked by the Martians. At this point, Wells must be congratulated on his ability to realistically recreate the behavior of a mass of panic-stricken people, and the exodus of London is one of the most realistic scenes in the book. While the scene has all of the usual screaming crowds, Wells also portrays the pandemonium and the violence that humans are capable of when they are afraid: "Before [my brother] could get to [the horse], he heard a scream under the wheels, and saw through the dust the rim passing over the poor wretch's back. The driver of the cart slashed his whip at my brother, who ran behind the cart." As the brother escapes to foreign lands, the narrator, in the second part of the book, discovers the cosmic scale of the martians' adeptness at engineering and technology, before the invaders eventually succumb to bacteria not found on Mars. Wells' imagination is what really gives this book life, as it seems unbelievable that all of this could have been thought of by a man living in the 1700s. However, upon finishing the book, a consistent reader of Wells can't help but feel unsatisfied. Compared to other books Wells has written, this one really shouldn't stand out, as while the ideas it presents are strange and fascinating, its characters can't hold a candle to the enchantingly surreal entities he conjures up in stories such as "The Time Machine" and "The Invisible Man". If anything, the story resembles an apocalyptic parody of the Little Prince in that its characters all seem to serve some higher, moralistic function that doesn't contribute to the plot. It's a shame, since while the idea was certainly momentous even by Wells' standards, the writing, for the most part, just doesn't cut it.

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vanhont48
Jan 18, 2018

The War of the Worlds by H.G Wells is one of my favorite science fiction classics. Wells was a brilliant author who wrote two of my all-time favorite books (which I highly recommend): The Island of Doctor Moreau and The Invisible Man. However, The War of the Worlds was probably my least favorite of the 4 novels I have read by Wells, as the story was not very climactic and lacked the uniqueness of his other novels. Still, I had no trouble focusing on the plotline despite the overused aliens-coming-to-Earth concept. Something about Wells’ writing keeps me interested even when it’s not a fast-moving chapter, although most of his chapters are.
The story began in the late nineteenth century when massive metal cylinders fell into the English countryside. The Martians eventually came out, and the Narrator described them as “vast spider-like machines, nearly a hundred feet high, capable of the speed of an express train, and able to shoot out a beam of intense heat” (Wells 82). They immediately killed the people around them with their Heat-Rays as the Narrator watched. The British army attempted to destroy them, but the Martians were far too deadly. The Narrator ran from the danger and traveled with an artilleryman along the way. When he was separated from the Artilleryman, he traveled with a curate. The two of them didn’t get along, but they were forced to hide from the Martians together. After running, hiding, and meeting new people and places for months, the Narrator came out of hiding to find the the corpses of the Martians. They had been killed by some bacteria that humans are immune to. He reunited with his wife and was left to think about the result of the invasion.
The predominant message of the story is about fear. Wells wanted his audience to believe that fear causes us to do irrational things that we would otherwise never do. When the townspeople were running from the Martians, they resorted to extreme violence and carelessly trampled each other to escape. If they had remained clear-headed, many of them would have been more considerate for the lives of others. The Curate was also an example of irrationality in the face of fear. He had been “[driven to] the very verge of reason” by the panic and was unable to make proper decisions. This emotional state eventually got him killed, which is why Wells believes that we should control our fear is desperate situations.

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green_zebu_65
Dec 11, 2017

This book is interesting. The plot keep you turning the pages. The part that gets at you is that, if martians did attack, would we be helpless?

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Dragonrat703
Sep 20, 2017

This book was interesting to read because it is one of the first "alien invasion" stories ever. H.G. Wells had a huge influence on science fiction. I find it amazing that Wells was able to understand so much of science, and that he demonstrated it so well in his books, when he was from the 1800s. It paints a very frightening image; humans have always viewed themselves as the top species, so it is interesting to see how quickly civilization could collapse once a technologically superior race comes in.

However, I found the characters bland and the plot mediocre. The message of the story (that only strong, smart people should survive and that it would be good for humanity to become non-diverse, a mono-culture), is, in my opinion, not a very good one. I don't believe the Martians would have been able to progress scientifically and technologically if they were all essentially the same. However, the writing was excellent and this book remains an interesting historical classic.

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amalyndb
Jan 16, 2016

A classic of science fiction, The War of the Worlds works on many layers. Most people take it as merely a fantasical fiction of invasion by otherworldly Martians set on subjugating and killing off large swathes of the human race.

However, it was intended as commentary on colonialism and the disruption to the lives of those native to the colonies. Numerous allusions are made, as to how an ant might find a steam engine as incomprehensible as the humans find the machines of the alien invaders. The introduction of the 'red weed' by the aliens, choking out the plantlife to plantations crowding out native flora and traditional crops.

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wilqser
Sep 05, 2013

Decided to read a classic although most people have the movie. If you're not from England or not familiar with the cities and towns you are going to find it hard to follow because the Well's uses street names and towns alot in the book. It is also has alot of narrative - he uses alot of adverbs and adjectives to describe the aliens and the terror they wield. I Could not finish the book because of the that but I definitely tried!

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WarOfGears3
Mar 14, 2013

Fantastic book. Unfathomable that this was written in the late 18th century. The vivid details and descriptions are fantastic. You could just as easily replace late Victorian elements with modern society. Disregard any review that puts this book at less than 5 stars - the 'critics' simply cannot comprehend the scope of the novel.

itsallieex3 Jul 07, 2012

Hated the first hundred pages or so, but it got interesting in the second half. Descriptive and I learned a lot of new vocab :)

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skywalker13
Dec 18, 2011

Okay but slow and sort of weird way of writing. Although it was written in the late 1890s so I can't really judge... An okay book but definitely not one of my favorites.

moto21 Apr 10, 2011

Regular people reacting to not so regular events in their own ways. Details, romance, horror, science fiction, name it, the book got it.

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whsun
Jan 16, 2016

whsun thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

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