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The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells

The War of the Worlds (original 1898; edition 2005)

by H. G. Wells

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As life on Mars becomes impossible, Martians and their terrifying machines invade the earth.
Title:The War of the Worlds
Authors:H. G. Wells
Info:New York Review Books Classics (2005), Hardcover
Collections:Your library

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The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells (Author) (1898)

1890s (20)

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English (227)  Spanish (6)  French (5)  Danish (4)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  All languages (245)
Showing 1-5 of 227 (next | show all)
What an imaginaton! Love all his books. ( )
  Liivin | Sep 17, 2019 |
I first read this book at the age of thirteen and it was fantastic. Reading it again almost 40 years later it does seem somewhat stilted. As in many of Well's novels a great deal of time is spent in conversation, thought or conjecture. This at times can cause the story to stall. There is no doubt that his thinking is visionary. His thoughts on technology and how he describes it remind me of Clarke's "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." The finale is an extrapolation of facts far ahead of his time. As such a short book it is a good read, if slightly stilted by today's standards ( )
  PhilOnTheHill | Sep 8, 2019 |
History students are often advised to go back to the source material and this is not a bad practice for Science Fiction fans neither. This week I watched ‘20,000 Leagues Under The Sea’ on afternoon television, the Walt Disney version with Kirk Douglas playing a two-fisted all-American blockhead. It was fun but one day I intend to get round to reading the original text by Jules Verne. For now, I’m reading HG Wells.

‘The War Of The Worlds’ has not been so badly treated by Hollywood though it has been Americanised and updated. In the book, the Martians land in Surrey, near London, and there are quite detailed descriptions of the geography at that time. Inherent in the text, too, are hints about the values and customs of the late Victorian era. A man reporting on the initial strange events is ignored by most because he looks a bit wild and isn’t wearing a hat. More striking, to the modern reader, are the limitations of the technology in 1898, particularly communications. The Martians can land and get organised quite slowly. By the time anyone is taking them seriously, it’s too late. Nowadays, the world would know within five minutes. Back then, a policeman on a bicycle had to report back to his station and they might send a telegram to London. Horse-drawn carriages and trains were the fastest transport. The only media was newspapers, which came out the following morning. This is not very effective for coping with a sudden invasion.

The story is told in the first person by an unnamed protagonist who is dwelling quietly in Mayberry Hill, near Woking. He also tells us a bit about his brother’s adventures in London, which he clearly found out later.

It all starts when, from the observatory near his home, explosions are seen on the surface of the planet Mars. Shortly after, a mysterious object falls from space and lands on Horsell Common. Various adventures follow and I won’t spoil the plot.

The prose is quiet, measured, very restrained and English. John Wyndham, who later wrote an excellent invasion story of his own, ‘The Day Of The Triffids’, had a similar style. It’s interesting that Science Fiction was reasonably respectable until it was taken over by the American pulps. It wasn’t literature exactly but was popular in the same way as ‘The 39 Steps’ or ‘King Solomon’s Mines’. The lurid covers of the pulp magazines demeaned the genre and it took a long time to become respectable again. Robert Heinlein getting a story into the Saturday Evening Post was seen as a giant leap forward. On the other hand, the sensible French, apparently, have always regarded Jules Verne as literature. They took the same attitude to Poe, Lovecraft and comic books. There is a lot to admire about those cheese-eating surrender monkeys.

Of course, some of the language in ‘The War Of The Worlds’ is a bit dated and has even changed its meaning nowadays. This, for example, from the last page of Chapter 14: ‘His landlady came to the door, loosely wrapped in dressing gown and shawl; her husband followed ejaculating.’ Titter ye not! The word meant speaking suddenly in those days. Doctor Watson was forever ejaculating at Holmes. Everything dates! Future viewers of our era may wonder why everyone says ‘like’ every other word and describes everything – absolutely everything – as ‘amazing’. Given a choice, I would much rather have a bit of ejaculating.

Eamonn Murphy
This review first appeared at https://www.sfcrowsnest.info/ ( )
3 vote bigfootmurf | Aug 11, 2019 |
God is this bad! It's very poorly and confusingly written. The second part is slightly improved and almost readable, but the first 60% or so was so awful that I had a difficult time not quitting the book altogether. Basically, if you don't have a detailed understanding of the geography around London, including all the small villages within a 30- or 50- or something-mile radius, you've no clue what's happening. It's all told in terms of going from one obscure village to another. Which is to say, there are a lot of irrelevant details, but not much useful descriptive detail. Plus, the writing is pedestrian at best. Hell, I've read more interestingly written things in the Journal of Chemical Physics.

I'm believe the Martians landed somewhere to the southwest of London, but I was never sure of that. Apparently, the Martians launched 10 space probes toward earth, but only six landed, and they were all within a small target area clustered somewhere outside of London (southwest?). I've no idea what happened to the others. I've no idea what happened in much of the book, actually. Lots of things were frightening, grotesque, monstrous, etc. but I've no real idea why things were so.

I have no idea how this book became a classic. It gets 2*s because I managed to finish it, but as 2* books go, it was a hell of a lot worse than the egregious Wuthering Heights. I've now read three books by H. G. Wells, and vow never to waste another minute on the crap he spewed out.
( )
  lgpiper | Jun 21, 2019 |
Oh, HG Wells.

I'm going to skip the antisemitic part entirely, because seriously? Not cool. Just know that there's a few pages in there that are really messed up.

HG Wells' greatest strength is his inventiveness and his disturbingly realistic portrayal of how a martian invasion could take over Great Britain in about a week. He's really good, and he knows it. The description of the martians is worthy of HP Lovecraft. The unstoppable rise of the martians, trundling across the fields in their tripods, is the stuff of nightmares. Also a weirdly accurate prediction of stuff that would later happen in World Wars I and II.

But Wells fails utterly and totally on character. It says a lot that nearly all his characters are unnamed. Our narrator has almost no personality, serving largely to narrate the larger events and occurrences. What little personality he does show is rather dislikable. Wells also has a bad habit of allowing his characters to mount a soapbox and monologue on for several pages on Wells' own opinions and views. It's tiresome, frankly.

I can see why HG Wells, and The War of the Worlds in particular, is considered a classic. But Wells has some definite failings as an author. Which is a shame, because when he gets it right, he hits it out of the park. ( )
  miri12 | May 31, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 227 (next | show all)
Mr. Wells's dramatic power is of the strongest, and through "The War of the Worlds" deals with death, destruction, and ruin, he has known how to manage a terrible topic in a clever and ingenuous way.

» Add other authors (142 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wells, H. G.Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aldiss, Brian W.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Asimov, IsaacAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Barrett, SeanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burnett, VirgilCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Card, Orson ScottIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Clarke, Arthur C.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Crüwell, G. A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Delgado, TeresaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fredrik, JohanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Frost, Adam H.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gemme, Francis R.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goble, WarwickIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gorey, EdwardCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gunn, JamesAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hurt, ChristopherNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Θωμόπουλος… Γιάννης Γ.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kidd, TomIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parrinder, PatrickEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Santos, DomingoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sawyer, AndyNotessecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schmölders, ClaudiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Spencer, AlexanderNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ungermann, ArneCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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But who shall dwell in these worlds if they be inhabited? ... Are we or they Lords of the World? ... And how are all things made for man?-- KEPLER (quoted in The Anatomy of Melancholy)
First words
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; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.
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This is the main work for The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. Please do not combine with any abridgements, adaptations, annotated editions, etc.
ISBN 1402552459 is an unabridged audio version of the novel
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Haiku summary
Mars attacks England.
Earth's defenses are no match,
But-- ah, ah, ACHOO!

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Penguin Australia

4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141441038, 0451530659, 0141045418, 0141199040

NYRB Classics

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Tantor Media

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