Title: The War of the Worlds
Author: H.G. Wells
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 just with a white flag – only to be quickly killed by an all-destroying heat-ray as terrifying tentacled invaders emerge. Soon the whole 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.
“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 were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.”
This is one of the most famous science fiction books ever and I’ve finally read it. It’s a story about an army of Martians invading Earth and humanity’s inability to deal with that.
Sci-fi books written in the 19th century have a very different feeling about them than sci-fi books now. There’s a lot of flowery language, lots of amazing descriptions that make you ‘see’ everything, there seems to be much more emphasis on the way people react to what’s happening to them so action isn’t really front-and-center. Humans are under the attack but Wells still reminds us that humans aren’t exactly the most innocent of species – he compares Martians’ treatment of humans with the way humans treat animals and each other.
The ending was a surprise, but I loved it even though it felt very rushed. This book has had a huge influence on science fiction, so if you’re a fan of sci-fi, you should definitely read it .
“This isn’t a war,” said the artilleryman. “It never was a war, any more than there’s war between man and ants.”
“Few people realise the immensity of vacancy in which the dust of the material universe swims.”