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The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, first published in 1898, is the granddaddy of all alien invasion stories. 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 quickly 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. There is a great deal more going on here than just an entertaining story, however, for The War of the Worlds offers a truly savage commentary on British imperialism and colonialism. Both the England and Europe of 1898 were imperialistic powers, beating less technologically advanced cultures into submission, colonizing them, and then draining them of their resources. With The War of the Worlds, Wells turns the tables, and imperialistic England finds itself facing the same sort of social, economic, and cultural extermination it has repeatedly visited on others. The upshot of the whole thing is that Wells ultimately paints the English habit of forced colonization as akin to an invasion by horrific blood-sucking monsters from outer space--and even goes so far as to suggest that if the present trend continues we ourselves may follow an evolutionary path that will bring us to the same level as the Martians: ugly, sluggish creatures that rely on machines and simply drain off what they need from others without any great concern for the consequences. If we find the idea of such creatures horrific, he warns, we'd best look to our own habits. For these monsters are more like us than we may first suppose. And this, really, is why the novel has survived even in the face of advancing scientific knowledge that renders the idea of an invasion from Mars more than a little foolish. The War of the Worlds is a mirror, and even more than a century later the Martians reflect our own nature to a truly uncomfortable degree. A memorable novel, and strongly recommended--especially to those who understand the parable it offers.
Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
January 30, 2013
5.98 X 9.02 X 0.32 inches | 0.46 pounds
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About the Author
Herbert George "H. G." Wells (21 September 1866 - 13 August 1946) was an English writer, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing textbooks and rules for war games. Together with Jules Verne and Hugo Gernsback, Wells has been referred to as "The Father of Science Fiction". His most notable science fiction works include The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, The Invisible Man and The Island of Doctor Moreau. Wells's earliest specialised training was in biology, and his thinking on ethical matters took place in a specifically and fundamentally Darwinian context. He was also from an early date an outspoken socialist, often (but not always, as at the beginning of the First World War) sympathising with pacifist views. His later works became increasingly political and didactic, and he sometimes indicated on official documents that his profession was that of "Journalist." Most of his later novels were not science fiction. Some described lower-middle class life (Kipps; The History of Mr Polly), leading him to be touted as a worthy successor to Charles Dickens,  but Wells described a range of social strata and even attempted, in Tono-Bungay (1909), a diagnosis of English society as a whole. Wells also wrote abundantly about the "New Woman" and the Suffragettes (Ann Veronica)