Thursday, November 12, 2009

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

Book Details
The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
Paperback, 224 pages
2002, Modern Library
ISBN: 0375759239

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.

Sadly, I just couldn't get into The War of the Worlds. It dragged from word one. It was short and didn't take a long time to read, but it seemed like forever. I've been recently coming to appreciate some alien stories, but this one fell flat. The ending struck me as an easy way to end the novel and left me feeling unfulfilled.


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