Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

March Books 16) The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells

I had forgotten just how good this is. Its 200 pages far outshine all later (and mostly longer) invasion-of-Earth stories (or even just disaster stories like The Stand). It feels so very fresh, one of the basic plots of science fiction being written for the first time. Yes, of course it's strongly reliant on tales of human wars, both those set in the contemporary late nineteenth century and those set in the (then) near future; but this chilling sentence - of mildly dodgy grammar but impeccable pace - in the first paragraph makes it clear that this is not about the Germans:
Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.

In the earlier chapters, there's a fixation with circumstantial detail - especially of the geography of Surrey - which gives the whole narrative an immediacy which is curiously intensified as the conflict goes on and fewer and fewer characters get names - "the artilleryman", "the curate", and rather oddly to today's reader, "my wife". (And "my brother", though his lady friends, the Elphinstones, do get names.)

So much here is reminiscent of later stories and indeed of history - the rescue of the English refugees by small boats from the rest of Europe is an odd inversion of Dunkirk; the tripods pop up in John Christopher; the gas warfare waged by the aliens against London was soon to happen in real life.

Anyway, a really excellent, short read.
Tags: bookblog 2009, rereads, writer: hg wells
Subscribe
  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 3 comments