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The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells

The War of the Worlds (original 1898; edition 2012)

by H. G. Wells

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Title:The War of the Worlds
Authors:H. G. Wells
Info:Tribeca Books (2012), Paperback, 138 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, classics

Work details

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

1001 (45) 1001 books (54) 19th century (122) alien invasion (74) aliens (186) British (58) British literature (61) classic (355) classics (320) ebook (108) England (61) English literature (54) fantasy (65) fiction (971) H.G. Wells (60) invasion (69) Kindle (67) literature (141) Mars (85) martians (69) novel (159) own (53) paperback (42) read (138) science fiction (1,748) sf (164) sff (66) to-read (124) unread (95) war (81)
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» See also 412 mentions

English (155)  French (4)  Spanish (3)  Danish (3)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  All languages (168)
Showing 1-5 of 155 (next | show all)
H.G. Wells' gift to Halloween ( )
  schmicker | Apr 19, 2014 |
4.5 Originally posted at Fantasy Literature:

was the beginning of the rout of civilization, of the massacre of mankind.ƒ?

H.G. Wellsƒ?? earliest novels had a major impact on science fiction. The War of the Worlds, first serialized in Pearsonƒ??s Magazine in 1897 and published in novel form in 1898, is one of our earliest examples of the First Contact theme. In Wellsƒ?? story several spaceships from Mars land in England, creating vast craters. At first the English are either amused or indifferent until Martians pop out and start terrorizing them with heat rays, ƒ??fighting machines,ƒ? ƒ??black smokeƒ? and a Martian plant that begins spreading across England. The English are not prepared to fight this kind of war and, because itƒ??s the late nineteenth century, are unable to communicate their situation quickly enough to the outside world. By the time the Martians make their way to London, it looks like the entire human race is doomed.

The story is related in the first person by an unnamed narrator, a writer who lives in Surrey and observes the landing of one of the Martian ships, the building of their fighting machines, and the mass slaughter of his countrymen. He has a wife who he sends to a relativeƒ??s house, though it isnƒ??t long before he realizes that sheƒ??s probably not safe there either. We also hear from our narratorƒ??s brother and another character who let us know whatƒ??s going on in other parts of England where the Martians have landed. At one point our narrator and another man are trapped together in a partly destroyed house at the edge of one of the craters. For two weeks they must try to get along with each other, sharing very little food and water. During this time they are able to observe the Martiansƒ?? activity, which is horrifying, but they must stay hidden and silent so the Martians donƒ??t notice them. This is not a favorable situation for maintaining oneƒ??s sanity.

The plot of The War of the Worlds is exciting but the best part of the novel is its imagery and language. The tall fighting machines which walk on long jointed legs and have tentacles that grab people are horrifying, as is the image of the craters and the intrusive red weed that grows wild and threatens to overrun our planet. Even the domestic scene at the beginning of the story is eerie and foreboding:

ƒ?? I remember that dinner table with extraordinary vividness even now. My dear wifeƒ??s sweet anxious face peering at me from under the pink lamp shade, the white cloth with its silver and glass table furniture ƒ?? for in those days even philosophical writers had many little luxuries ƒ?? the crimson-purple wine in my glass, are photographically distinct. At the end of it I sat, tempering nuts with a cigarette, regretting Ogilvyƒ??s rashness, and denouncing the shortsighted timidity of the Martians.

So some respectable dodo in the Mauritius might have lorded it in his nest, and discussed the arrival of that shipful of pitiless sailors in want of animal food. ƒ??We will peck them to death tomorrow, my dear.ƒ? I did not know it, but that was the last civilized dinner I was to eat for very many strange and terrible days.

Or this one in which he vividly contrasts the glory and the humility of man:

Since the night of my return from Leatherhead I had not prayed. I had uttered prayers, fetish prayers, had prayed as heathens mutter charms when I was in extremity; but now I prayed indeed, pleading steadfastly and sanely, face to face with the darkness of God. Strange night! Strangest in this, that so soon as dawn had come, I, who had talked with God, crept out of the house like a rat leaving its hiding place ƒ?? a creature scarcely larger, an inferior animal, a thing that for any passing whim of our masters might be hunted and killed. Perhaps they also prayed confidently to God. Surely, if we have learned nothing else, this war has taught us pity ƒ?? pity for those witless souls that suffer our dominion.

H.G. Wellsƒ?? interest in Darwinƒ??s ideas about natural selection are obvious and he seemed particularly interested in the evolution of intelligence (this was also a major theme in his novel The Time Machine).

Wells also doesnƒ??t miss opportunities to mock the personalities and social customs of some of his fellow Englishmen. There is some of this when heƒ??s trapped with the man in the house, but my favorite example is when he meets a man who has grandiose plans for kicking the Martians off Earth and recruits our narrator to join up. This part is just funny.

Thereƒ??s so much for the modern science fiction reader to enjoy in The War of the Worlds. Itƒ??s a classic which has never been out of print and its story has inspired not only sequels and pastiches but also movies, dramatizations, music, and comics. If youƒ??re only familiar with it from one of those secondary sources, I highly recommend reading Wellsƒ?? original. Itƒ??s in the public domain so itƒ??s easily found for free, but I recommend the audio version narrated by Simon Vance who is one of the top narrators in the business. You can get this superb version for only 99?› if you use the Wispersync deal from Amazon and Audible. (Purchase the Kindle version for free and then purchase the audio version (by Simon Vance!) for 99?›.) ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
This book is very different from my usual kind of reading, I don't think I've ever read anything in the Sci-Fi genre before, but I knew the story of this well because I have seen the movie, so when I saw this for free on my ibooks app, I decided to give it a go, and I'm really glad I did.
From the beginning this book had me interested in the story, because although I new the bare bones of what it was about, there are obviously major differences between the book and the movie, as there usually are, especially when the movie is a modern remake.
The whole way through I found that it was well written, with great descriptions not only of the Martians, but also of the feelings of the main character.
I enjoyed it so much, and I love the almost abrupt end to the book, rounding everything off in just a chapter and an epilogue, because it really suited the storyline.

For an extended review, check out my blog at http://thebooktower.webs.com ( )
  bookish92 | Mar 20, 2014 |
I teetered on three or four stars and ended up giving it four because of the fabulous Orson Welles radio broadcast that it inspired.

This book is pretty much exactly what you expect. Definitely a classic and probably defined the field of science fiction.

Worth the read. ( )
  steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |
Wow! I was not expecting this to be as phenomenal as it was. I admit I saw the horrible Tom Cruise movie first and thought the book would be just as bad. I don't mind admitting that I was horribly wrong. This is by far my favorite Wells story so far. It is absolutely amazing. The plot might get a little slow at times, but Wells' dive into the human mind makes it well worth the read. ( )
  CareBear36 | Mar 8, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 155 (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 (359 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wells, H. G.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aldiss, Brian W.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Asimov, IsaacAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Barrett, SeanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Card, Orson ScottIntroductionsecondary 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, EdwardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gunn, JamesAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hurt, ChristopherNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Θωμόπουλος… Γιάννης Γ.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parrinder, PatrickEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Santos, DomingoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sawyer, AndyNotessecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Spencer, AlexanderNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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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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Book description
Night after night, the bright lights can be seen dropping from the sky.
Traveling thousands of miles through space, the Martians are landing on Earth!
The strange, ugly creatures have three spindly legs and large metallic bodies. They have already destroyed London.
Who or what can stop them from taking over the entire world?
Haiku summary
Mars attacks England.
Earth's defenses are no match,
But-- ah, ah, ACHOO!

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375759239, Paperback)

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 man's..."

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 Earth's 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 England's military suffers defeat after defeat. With horror his narrator describes how the Martians suck the blood from living humans for sustenance, and how it's clear that man is not being conquered so much a corralled. --Craig E. Engler

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:52 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

'The War of the Worlds' is Wells' classic science fiction tale of a Martian invasion of Earth. Having already destroyed London, it seems that no-one can stop the intellectually superior Martians from taking over the whole planet.

(summary from another edition)

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24 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

Four editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141441038, 0451530659, 0141045418, 0141199040

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