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The War of the Worlds (Tor Classics) Mass Market Paperback – Unabridged, December 1, 1993

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Product Details

  • Series: Tor Classics
  • Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Aerie; Unabridged edition (December 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812505158
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812505153
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.6 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (620 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #278,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This edition of Wells's much disguised attack on British imperialism includes a scholarly introduction, a biographical preface and chronology of the author's life, maps of the Martian landing sites, and explanatory notes. A lot of extras for the price.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The book is very well written.
John Drake
Read the book as if you were watching a movie, a really great movie, and it will amaze you.
Dennis Stephens
The War of the Worlds is a amazing science fiction novel by H.G. Wells.
Anna Wantz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Beth Kristen Nehme on November 19, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition
I though I knew this story. I had heard the radio show and seen the movie - so I was just planning to read a classic in the original words but wasn't expecting anything new or interesting in the content. I was very surprised. Setting this back in Victorian Times when it was originally written totally changes the story. The speed at which the disaster is communicated is different. The speed at which the participants can flee from the Martians is different. The tools that the humans can bring to bear against the Martian invaders is different. All of these things make the story surprisingly new. I really enjoyed it.
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181 of 204 people found the following review helpful By Gary F. Taylor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 30, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Today H.G. Wells is chiefly recalled by the general public as the author of three seminal science-fiction novels: THE TIME MACHINE, THE INVISIBLE MAN, and most famously THE WAR OF THE WORLDS. But these are only three of the more than one hundred books Wells published in his lifetime, and it is worth recalling that Wells himself was a socio-political and very didactic writer, a determined reformer with distinctly socialist leanings. And his point of view informs everything he wrote--including these three famous novels.

In each case, Wells uses the trappings of science-fiction and popular literature to lure readers into what is essentially a moral lesson. THE TIME MACHINE is essentially a statement on the evils of the English class system. THE INVISIBLE MAN addresses the predicaments of the men and women to whom society turns a blind eye. And THE WAR OF THE WORLDS is a truly savage commentary on British imperialism and colonialism.

This is not to say that it isn't science-fiction--for it most certainly is, and moreover it is science-fiction well grounded in the scientific thinking of its day: intelligent life on Mars was believed to be entirely possible, and Wells forecasts the machinery and weapons that would soon become all too real in World War I. Set in England about the beginning of the 20th Century, the story finds a strange meteor landing near the narrator's home--and from it emerge Martians, who promptly construct gigantic and powerful killing machines and set about wiping the human population of England off the face of the earth. The Martians and their machines are exceptionally well imagined, the story moves at a fast clip, and the writing is strong, concise, and powerful.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Greg Hughes on December 9, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Many people who have heard of "The War of the Worlds" may have seen the movie without reading the book. The movie was set in Cold War America, with martians that flew in what looked like greenish manta rays. The book was set in Victorian England, and the martians looked like towering tripods. In both versions however the premise is the same: Earth invaded by a superior alien intelligence. HG Wells wrote about humanity's ego and complacency being crushed by a highly developed lifeform.
"The War of the Worlds" has been interpreted as an allegory of imperialism. Just as the British took over other countries to make them part of the Empire, so too is the Earth being taken over by the Martians. They even bring their own plant life with them, the "Red Weed". The Martians see us as vermin, trying to wipe us out with heat rays and poisonous black gas. Thats's what makes the story so much fun. It is frightening in a cosy sort of way. We read the story in a safe, comfortable room, while the narrator talks of all the death and destruction he sees.
An interesting point that Issac Asimov once brought up was that if alien intelligence did exist, their advanced evolution would also mean they would be emotionally superior to us. They would not act like barbarians, as war is a primitive thing. When people write alien invasion stories, they are really saying something about us. We are destructive and aggressive by nature. Our history has been one long story of conquest, slavery and even genocide. So HG Wells has put a little bit of us into his Martians. Both metaphorically (as imperialists), and literally (as food).
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By T. Simons VINE VOICE on January 29, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Still Well's greatest literary achievement, it tells a story that's gripping, human, and powerful. Imitated a zillion different times in a zillion different ways, there's still something primal and evocative about this story.

Probably the most impressive thing about it is that it reads like historical fiction written today, not science fiction written a hundred years ago -- to a modern reader, the heat rays and gas weapons of the Martians seem more "real" than the oddly bucolic Victorian setting that they shatter.

The most interesting detail about this story, and one that many readers may miss (I certainly did until it was pointed out to me) is that Wells intended this work as a satire (not a funny satire, but a biting one) of British imperialism. The story was inspired by a conversation with his brother, discussing the eradication of the Tasmanian islanders by the British. His brother wondered what would happen if an alien race dropped from the sky and did the same to England; Wells wrote the book in response (and there is a brief mention of the Tasmanians in the novel).
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