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The War of the Worlds (1898)

by H. G. Wells

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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14,946270283 (3.75)688
As life on Mars becomes impossible, Martians and their terrifying machines invade the earth.
1890s (28)
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» See also 688 mentions

English (253)  French (5)  Danish (4)  Spanish (4)  Dutch (3)  Italian (1)  All languages (270)
Showing 1-5 of 253 (next | show all)
Nel coglier il senso di terrore che giunge a sopraffare i protagonisti di questo romanzo, talora dimentichiamo di vedere, oltre l'ombra dellinvasione marziana a scapito di popolazioni inermi, le tante conquiste coloniali, gli atti disumani, la distruzione di intere civiltà e culture portate avanti per pura sete di potere e denaro. Ma è Wells stesso che, in più di un'occasione, attraverso sapie ti rimandi, provvede ad aprirci gli occhi e a far trasparire le nostre stesse colpe negli stessi atti che, leggendo, ci vediamo condannare. ( )
  Carlomascellani73 | May 30, 2021 |
Better than his Invisible Man, but not as good as his Time Machine (which still rates as one of my top Sci Fi stories).

Here the earth is invaded by Martians, and we hear the tale from the point of view of one survivor. I thought the end was good, and made sense from a scientific point of view (though a few other details were a little bit more difficult to accept). Tedious in some places, but overall worth reading, as it was such an influential contribution to the genre, and is quite good in places. ( )
1 vote P_S_Patrick | May 14, 2021 |
Reading this within its historical context of the time it was written, I found it interesting. Reading it solely as a novel, ignoring the historical context, I got bored and I found the ending something of an anti-climax.

The historical context is interesting; the exploration of ethics and morals, religion, of imperialism, science, space, Mars and alien life. Interesting within the history of its time and its author but I won't rush to read more H G Wells. ( )
  ArdizzoneFan | Mar 25, 2021 |
This was entertaining, though I wouldn't say brilliant, obviously ground breaking at the time. The narrator of the story wasn't as much a hero as an observer who was occasionally brave. Wells does a great job of instilling dread in the reader (definitely would have been even better if I didn't know how it ended) and I really like the philosophy of how the human race was to survive and eventually overcome the alien menace over time. I always remember it was "Chicken Pox" that did the aliens in, but I didn't hear that virus specifically mentioned in the book, so I guess that was just something they added to one of the movies. ( )
  ragwaine | Feb 21, 2021 |
It’s impossible to read H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds and appreciate it the way its would have been received in 1897. Science fiction as a genre was still very much in its infancy (the term itself would not be popularized for decades), and The War of the Worlds is presented as a hybrid of the ‘scientific romance’ and ‘invasion literature’, a sub-genre that obsessed over scenarios wherein England was invaded due to the neglect of martial values by her leaders (see the enjoyable Battle of Dorking (1871) for a prime example of this).

Even knowing the plot of Worlds through osmosis of popular culture, it was still quite an enjoyable, and at times surprising, read. The first ‘book’ of the novella involves the arrival of the Martians in Surrey, England, followed by an orgiastic rampage of destruction as the Martians begin wiping out all life around London. This is the part of the story the non-reader will already be familiar with, and its themes of panicky evacuation and a useless military will be recognizable to anyone who’s watched a Godzilla film.

The second book is titled “The Earth Under the Martians”, but it’s a fairly direct continuation of the first book, and the events of both combined take place over a couple of weeks at most. This is where the book started to feel a lot more Victorian to me, as our unnamed protagonist finds himself trapped in a house near a Martian encampment with an increasingly-insane companion for company, followed by a trek across the ghostly remains of London that immediately called to mind I Am Legend. By the end of the second book, as we all know, Terrestrial bacteria has slain the Martian invaders, and life gradually returns to normal.

You don’t have to squint too hard to see the surprisingly forward-thing critique of imperialism in Wells’ work – indeed, the entire work was apparently premised on a question about the effects of colonialism on the Aboriginal Tasmanians. It was also, to my surprise, a rather anti-religious work, with constant asides about the uselessness of prayers and piety, and the curate who becomes a shriveling object of contempt.

The book unfortunately follows the weird Victorian tradition of not giving any of the major characters names, so there are extended sequences referring only to ‘the curate’ or ‘my wife’ or ‘the artilleryman’. To the modern reader there’s also what feels like a really strange choice of POV when the narrator retells what happened to his (also unnamed) brother, describing events that the first-person narrator was not present for, instead of just switching the POV like a normal writer would. Wells also goes into painstaking geographic detail about every road, neighborhood, hill and town in Greater London that the protagonist traverses. It certainly adds a level of visceral detail to the story, though it also left me wishing that TOR had thought to include a map in their edition. (No doubt this has somewhat dated the story, too – nowadays New York is probably the only city you could set this story in and assume a broad readership would understand the geographic context.)

The ending invariably comes across as a deus ex machina, which admittedly does tie up the story rather neatly. But the artilleryman of the second book alludes to what could have been a much more interesting plot, an envisioned guerrilla war against the Martians with generations of humans living in the vast sewage system of London, a civilization living like rats until the time to strike is at hand. (I’m sure someone has written that story, but I can’t find it.) And despite the title (and my own assumptions), actual “war” of The War of the Worlds seems limited to London; in the closing lines the narrator alludes to the rest of Britain seeming largely untouched, let alone the world.

At less than two hundred pages it’s well-worth your time if you’re looking to brush up on some classics of science fiction. The TOR edition contained an excellent introduction and afterword by James Gunn, which does much to establish the book’s literary context. ( )
  pvoberstein | Dec 14, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 253 (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 (122 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
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
Targete, J.P.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ungermann, ArneCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
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)
Dedication
TO
MY BROTHER
FRANK WELLS
THIS RENDERING
OF HIS IDEA
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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As life on Mars becomes impossible, Martians and their terrifying machines invade the earth.

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Haiku summary
Mars attacks England.
Earth's defenses are no match,
But-- ah, ah, ACHOO!
(MJMunn)

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Penguin Australia

4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141441038, 0451530659, 0141045418, 0141199040

NYRB Classics

An edition of this book was published by NYRB Classics.

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Tantor Media

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