16 Nov 2011

THE WAR OF THE WORLDS.

THE WAR OF THE WORLDS by H.G. WELLS
(with an introduction from BRIAN ALDISS).

The night after a shooting star is seen streaking through the sky from Mars, a cylinder is discovered on Horsell Common near London. At first, naive locals approach the cylinder armed with just a white flag - only to be quickly killed by an all-destroying heat-ray as terrifying tentacled invaders emerge. Soon the world of human civilization is under threat, as powerful Martians build gigantic killing machines, destroy all in their path with black gas and burning rays, and feast on the warm blood of trapped, still-living human prey. The forces of the Earth, however, may prove harder to beat than they at first appear.
....... Outer back cover.

FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1): 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 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.

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 5): The air was full of sound, a deafening and confusing conflict of noises - the clangorous din of the Martians, the crash of falling houses, the thud of trees, fences, sheds flashing into flame, and the crackling and roaring of fire.

KEEP IT OR NOT?: Not.

Generally acknowledged as the original, most influential science-fiction works, this Penguin Classics edition of The War Of The Worlds included a full biography essay on Wells, a further reading list and detailed notes.

Now as I think I've told you before, I'm not a huge fan of science fiction novels, I leave this genre to Husband dearest, but every so often I feel inspired to read something a little bit different and on this occasion chose this.

A short read (180 pages if you don't include all the extras) I found The War Of The Worlds to be an interesting enough read if not a little bit tame and outdated, hardly surprising when you consider it was first published in 1898.

As I said, tame by today's standards it is nevertheless quite gripping, 'breath holding' stuff that must have been ground breaking at the time of its first publication given that the author did not have other such novels to compare and contrast it with.
A charity shop buy, the 91st book read for the 100+ Reading Challenge, the novel was better by far than any of the film adaptations though I have to confess I'd still rather listen to Jeff Wayne's audio version.

12 comments:

anilkurup said...

Though a bit outdated in style as you felt, remember that the plot was conceived by H.G.Well's some hundred plus years ago. When Earthlings thought that Mars was inhabited and had life. What a disappointment later as it proved.
But the genius of Well's stands out .

Heather said...

I don't think I've read this one. I like the idea of listening to an audio version. Will be checking with my library. Thanks.

Kelly said...

Certainly a Classic, and one that I've never read. I do enjoy SF, but it's a genre I often like in film form as much as book.

I have the Orson Welles recording based on this on an LP.... the broadcast that scared so many over the radio. Maybe it's time to pull out the old turntable and give it a whirl.

....Petty Witter said...

Anilkurup: As I said in the post this was groundbreaking stuff at the time, the first of its kind.

Heather: Not an audio book in the usual sense, this is more a musical version. Sorry I don't know how to do live links in my comments but if you go to youtube and look for Jeff Wayne's War Of The Worlds you will get a taste.

Kelly: I'd love a copy of this, I believe some people thought it was actually happening when it was first broadcast, that martians had indeed landed on earth.

Vivienne said...

I could probably quote the first page of this book by book as I have heard it so many times. LOL. But I have never read it. I must do that sometime.

naida said...

I did enjoy this classic when I read it, I am a fan of Wells. I know what you mean about it being outdated now, but in it's time groundbreaking and terrifying as well.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I have never really wanted to read it, but hmm... I may be missing something. I'm kind of curious of the extra stuff you mention.

chitra said...

Here to say Hi to you...I was away for a few days.Shall come back to read about your post.

Monalisa said...

Sounded a good read when you began. Sounded much better on a search with yt audio version.

Indian Bazaars said...

I remember watching the television series based on H.G.Wells novel 'Invisible Man'. It was something I never forgot!!

GMR said...

Ah yes...outdated I could imagine, as you said, look at the pub date, but it's good to read outside the box sometimes. Thanks for the share!

Alyce said...

I still haven't read this book, but I do love sci-fi. I have noticed that classic sci-fi (those that broke new ground in their time) tend to be so outdated now they usually bore me, but I do want to try reading it someday.