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The War of the Worlds Paperback – December 8, 2013
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Attention Science Fiction Fans
Man vs. machine, humans vs. aliens, paranormal activities – discover the best of science fiction with these collectible books. Learn More.
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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
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
Why? Because, despite the overly wordy novel's seemingly endless cavalcade of often mostly pointless pseudo events and details that really don't move the practically nonexistent plot along in any significant way, despite these blatantly, almost unforgivable weak points, the book is still nothing less than a remarkable literary accomplishment.
For starters, when it was first published in 1898, almost nobody had ever conceived of such a pioneering, wonderfully thought provoking tale. So even though Wells fails to offer much in the way of real substance story wise, he still manages, almost miraculously perhaps, to deliver on a monumental scale. While in actuality providing so very little, that one can hardly fail to give the clever bastard the grand prize! And all despite the fact that most of the actual prose often seems worth little more than skimming. In other words, folks, the gal that the author brings to the party is so darned pretty and memorable, that it honestly doesn't matter whether she gives you the time of day or not. By just showing up, she wins the door prize hands down, no questions asked.
So, in many ways, The War of the Worlds is a hugely successful concept driven piece, in much the same vein as classic TV shows like The A-Team and even The Dukes of Hazzard! As stupifyingly bizarre as such an idea may at first appear, and despite the fact that this seemingly zany writer is actually unabashedly comparing a seminal Victorian British classic with high concept "schlock" of 20th century American "boob tube" manufacture, the real point is that, even though much of the novel is little more than fluff, the beginning and end are so outstanding, and the premise is so enthralling, entertaining, and revolutionary, that, quite simply put, The War of the Worlds is a loveable interstellar train wreck that you may be able to stop staring at, but odds are that you're not likely to ever forget the spectacle - despite the admittedly few and far between moments of pure brilliance that turned your head and got you reading from the get go.
* Classic sci-fi story
* In many senses created and popularized the sci-fi genre
* Vivid descriptions of Martians and the destruction they wrought
* Loved the scientific analysis of the Martians
* Real sense of dread instilled in a few moments
* Extremely implausible story today
* Very boring when the book switches to the point of view of the writer's brother
* Not much character development
* Too little focus on the actual aliens for my taste
* Anticlimactic ending
* Unnecessary and oddly placed superstition
"Yet so vain is man, and so blinded by his vanity, that no writer, up to the very end of the nineteenth century, expressed any idea that intelligent life might have developed there far, or indeed at all, beyond its earthly level. Nor was it generally understood that since Mars is older than our earth, with scarcely a quarter of the superficial area and remoter from the sun, it necessarily follows that it is not only more distant from time's beginning but nearer its end."
H.G. Wells's 'The War of the Worlds' is, in my estimation, one of the few 'classics' that stands up to the title. It is certainly not the best sci-fi book ever written, in my opinion not even close to the best, but it's still a highly enjoyable read.
The book follows an anonymous, well educated writer recalling a recent, almost extinctive an alien invasion from Mars. (Remember, this was written in the 1800s, so intelligent beings on Mars was not nearly as implausible as it would be today.) The descriptions and images portrayed are real and detailed enough to make you feel like this event actually occurred, and at points, particularly in the beginning, the book is quite suspenseful. This feeling is never so strong as it is in the beginning, where it is said that the Martians have been unsympathetically observing us, and, unfortunately, the book never again reaches this point of wonder and suspense.
I found the descriptions and scientific analysis of the Martians to be, by far, the best parts of the book, particularly in two places - The beginning of the book, where the Martian environment is described and how this environment shaped their evolution is the first of these great moments. The second great moment is where the writer is in an advantageous spot where he is able to stealthily observe and analyze the Martian anatomy and physiology.
For me, the book suffers immensely when it turns from a sci-fi book into a thriller. In my opinion the descriptions of the fleeing citizens and wreckage of cities was quite boring (particularly when the point of emphasis switches from the original writer to his brother) and, regrettably, these descriptions probably took up over half of the book. It seems like the destruction of England itself was more of a focus than the actual alien invasion. The ending also left me very wanting and somewhat disappointed.
Overall, the excitement of the best moments are enough to overcome the dullness of the worst, leaving the book to be an enjoyable one.
"For that moment I touched an emotion beyond the common range of men, yet one that 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 a master, but an animal among the animals, under the Martian heel. With us it would be as with them , to lurk and watch, to run and hide; the fear and empire of man had passed away."
I have no idea how many times I've read this story. I have several editions, but this one, with the bright pink cover and the Edward Gorey illustrations, is especially important to me. It looks the same as the edition I checked out of the school library when I was eight years old, and again many times after that. It changed my life—it opened the door to a whole world of other science fiction, to a whole universe of imagination and possibility. It kindled my lifelong love of SF, and more than that, my dream of writing my own science fiction. Which has come true—I've had three novels professionally published so far. And I can trace it all back to this book. Its bright pink spine stood out on the library shelf and compelled me to pull it down; then the terrifying alien tripod on the cover compelled me to check it out. But it was the story inside that changed me.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Lots of excitement
Having it set in the 1890s gave it a new idea of how mankind would fight the invaders