Are aliens real? And if they came to our world, would they come in peace, or would they come to wage war? This is the theme of H. G. Well’s novel, The War Of The Worlds. Written long before humans could fly, the novel tells the story of an alien attack on our world. Spaceships manned by huge, intelligent extra-terrestrial beings from Mars land in Victorian England, the first spaceship landing somewhere near Woking. Initially, people treat them as a curiosity, coming to inspect this astonishing craft. Then the worst happens!

The Martians unleash deadly force through a heat-ray, killing hundreds of people who had gathered to look at the spaceship. These Martians unleash massive destruction on the world, threatening to destroy the civilized world as we know it. Humans and their vaunted knowledge appear to be powerless against the Martians. It looks like the apocalypse has finally come, brought down by these alien beings from Mars. Do humans have a chance against them? Is there anything humans can do to save their world?

The War Of The Worlds, which was first published in 1898, is an exemplary work of fiction, both thrilling and delighting. The book is a fantasy explores an ancient human fear, and has been the inspiration for a couple films and dramatizations.

The author

H. G. Wells

H. G. Wells, born in 1866, was an English author, teacher, socialist, essayist, historian and futurist. Wells was proficient in a number of genres, having written a number of novels as well as books on politics, history, commentaries on social life and rules for war games. His most popular works are his sci-fi novels, which earned him the name “father of science fiction.” Some of his other great sci-fi novels include The Invisible Man, The Island of Doctor Moreau and The Time Machine. His great literary works earned him four-time nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature. His other books include Select Conversations With An Uncle, The Wonderful Visit, The Stolen Bacillus And Other Incidents, Certain Personal Matters, First Men In The Moon, Anticipations and many others. Both The Time Machine and Anticipations went on to become bestsellers.

Style

What makes The War Of The Worlds more interesting is Well’s writing style in the book, which is also apparent in his other books. Below are some of interesting excerpts from The War Of The Worlds:

“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 scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.”

“We must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as vanished bison and the dodo, but upon its own inferior races. The Tasmanians . . . were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space if fifty years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit?”

“Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.”

“For that moment I touched an emotion beyond the common range of men, yet one the poor brutes we dominate know only too well. I felt as a rabbit might feel returning to his burrow, and suddenly confronted by the work of a dozen busy navvies digging the foundations of a house. I felt the first inkling of a thing that presently grew quite clear in my mind, that oppressed me for many days, a sense of dethronement, a persuasion that I was no longer master, but an animal among animals; under the Martian heel.”

Praise for the novel

After its publication, The War Of The Worlds got a good reception from both readers and critics alike. Here is what readers are saying about the book:

“The story-line is gripping, and (view spoiler) immensely powerful. H.G. Wells is particularly good at seeing the individual’s experience set against the whole devastating picture, (shifting between the viewpoint character and his brother), which draws the reader into the story.”

“This is perhaps one of H.G. Well’s finest works. Written in an era where lyrical prose had been the norm. Wonderful descriptions with powerful intelligent sounding words.”

“This is a wonderful story, full of lyrical prose that raise hairs on the back of the neck with chilling clinical portrayal of man’s basic dark side. At other times the desperation of the survivors wrenches hearts and strikes fear in the soul. This era produced some of the most colorfully and picturesque works of any time. Dead London will chill your bones. Well’s world of rubble and burnt out husks slowly succumbing to the red weed standing against a darking sky while the few humans who hadn’t fled hid in the wreckage like wraiths from I Am Legend.”

“I was extremely impressed by the quality of this 19th century sci-fi book… I loved the imagination and creativity this tale required. The content was so different than other literature being published at that time, and if it hadn’t been for the horse drawn carriages, it would have been easy to forget that this was taking place in the late 1800s and not in the present day.”


“Excellent. Not just very interesting for all the technology and science it has, but outstanding in describing human behavior and criticizing Victorian society. Very thrilling at parts, philosophically emotional at others and well written. Highly recommended for any sci-fi fan.”

Though written back in 1866, The War Of The Worlds has aged pretty well. Well’s descriptive narrative takes you on a journey through the streets of Victorian England and leaves you feeling like you were actually there. The book is an interesting read.

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