The War of the Worlds

by H. G. Wells

Hardcover, 2005

Call number



NYRB Classics (2005), 250 pages


As life on Mars becomes impossible, Martians and their terrifying machines invade the earth.

Media reviews

Mr. Wells's dramatic power is of the strongest, and through "The War of the Worlds" deals with death, destruction, and ruin, he has known how to manage a terrible topic in a clever and ingenuous way.

User reviews

LibraryThing member girlunderglass
One of the books that set the foundation for later science-fiction novels, War of the Worlds is a tale of a Martian invasion of Earth. The book is split into two sections, the first titled The Coming of the Martians and the second The Earth Under the Martians. For a book that is only 200 pages
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long, it took me a long time to get into it. All throughout the first part of the novel I kept thinking "yes, okay, the Martians are frightening and literally bloodthirsty, the protagonist has been separated from his wife and home and the whole of England is being destroyed, but why don't I care?" It seemed to me that Wells never makes you feel anything for the protagonist, nor his brother, who features prominently in the story and whose "adventures" bored me to death. It is also perhaps a mark of of the age I grew up in that I didn't even wince while reading the same gory descriptions of disembodied human parts, burning buildings and cadavers that shocked Wells's readers in the 19th century.

However, after reading half of the novel I finally stopped expecting character development and stopped hoping the protagonist's ordeal would move me. For I realized that the narrator is not, in fact, the real protagonist of this book. The real protagonist here is the whole of humanity and Wells is excellent at exposing and ridiculing the folly of the human race. For me, The War of the Worlds is best read as a satire on Victorian culture. First of all Wells critiques imperialism and colonialism in a very poignant way. Thus, the same British Empire that is constantly invading other countries is now being invaded by a more powerful race that merely wants to expand its territory and pays no regard to human lives. The invasion literature of the time that wants Britain attacked by a foreign force (typically Germany) is also ridiculed when Britain is in fact attacked by aliens. Furthermore, Wells mocks his contemporaries for still clinging obsessively to religion, after proofs to the contrary offered by Darwin's theories and by the (then) recent developments in geology, anthropology, astronomy and other sciences. In the book, a clergyman who considers the coming of the Martians to be the biblical Armageddon and prays for God to save humanity is presented as mentally disturbed and is, eventually, punished for his outdated views. Wells' message is more than obvious. The Martians are never presented as mysterious, supernatural beings that no one understands. In fact the detailed description of their anatomy and their possible evolution process was, in my opinion, one of the most interesting parts of the novel. Never before have the words "science-fiction" been more aptly used to describe a book. The War of the Worlds is exactly that - a book in which all the ideas are based on actual scientific theories enriched by Wells's imagination.

Conclusion? The second part is much better than the first one; once you accept that you're not gonna care whether the narrator reunites with his wife or not and instead try to observe how the entire human race reacts to the invasion, the book can only get better.
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LibraryThing member baswood
Not quite the first alien invasion novel, or the first dystopian novel, or the first “contact” novel, but certainly the best that combined all three. Serialised beforehand and eventually published as a novel in 1898, this could be seen as the book that launched the whole new genre of science
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fiction. Sure H G Wells had dabbled before with The Time Machine, The Island of Dr Moreau, The Invisible Man and even The Wonderful Visit, but The War of the Worlds, puts it all together to make a wonderful reading experience. How it must have fired the imagination of Well’s Victorian audience, because it still has the power to resonate today.

The story of the Invaders from Mars is well known to most readers and there have been comic strip versions, radio broadcasts and spectacular film versions, so there is no need to detail the plot here, but re-reading it this week still made some aspects leap off the page at me. For a start most of the action takes place in the south west Home Counties that surround London, I was born and bred in that area and so when Wells places his startling events around Chertsey and Weybridge and then Twickenham, Richmond and Barnes I am right there with him. This gives the whole novel a parochial feel for me and indeed it is parochial because most of the action takes place in those sleepy small towns that in Victorian times were not a part of Greater London. The books big theme is an alien invasion and yet it all appears to be happening next door to where I lived. Of course at the time of writing, England was probably the most powerful of the colonial powers and so setting an invasion of the world around the outskirts of London made perfect sense.

Well’s novel takes place in his present day and so the novel has a wonderfully authentic Victorian feel, here people are fleeing from the monstrous war machines on bicycles and horses and carts, the army is very slow to respond and when it does it feels amateurish, there is no ease of communication and people are unaware of what is happening around them but when they do see the carnage, there is shock, then fright, then confusion It must have felt very real to Well’s Victorian readers and it felt real for me reading it in 2013. Wells uses a first person survivor of the invasion to tell his story and this enhances the reality of the events described.

There are some unforgettable scenes here; the flight from London with the narrators brother trying to cross a small road jam packed with vehicles, the battle between the Martians and the iron clad “Thunderchild” that takes place just off the English coast, the Martian war machine hunting humans along the river Thames and finally the eerie scenes in an almost deserted London when the Martians death calls reverberate around the city.

The book is in two parts and the first part details the dramatic events leading upto the Martian take over. Part two is more reflective, perhaps a little slower, but it is full of atmosphere and a kind of horror. This is dystopia and Wells reinforces the major themes with some telling conversations with the narrator’s two main protagonists. The curate who attaches himself to the narrator is shown as weak, almost helpless, his faith of no use in the circumstances. Then there is the artillery man dreaming of leading a guerrilla war against the Martians, but in practice his methods are foolhardy and he is naïve and quickly becomes disheartened. Wells/the narrator says in the opening chapter when he reflects back on events:

“And before we judge them (the Martians) too harshly we must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals such as the vanished bison and the dodo, but upon the inferior races. The Tasmanians, in spite of their huiman likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination wages by European immigrants……..”

Survival of the fittest and natural selection are themes that surface throughout this book.

Wells was writing before the advent of the two world wars but at a time when “Invasion literature” was popular, invasion by Germany that is rather than Martians, but some of the devastation and panic amongst people seems prophetic of events that would soon become familiar. This is his description of the flight from London:

“Never before in the history of the world has such a mass of human beings moved and suffered together. The legendary hosts of Goths and Huns, the hugest armies Asia has ever seen would have been but a drop in the current. And this was no disciplined march; it was a stampede - a stampede gigantic and terrible - without order and without a goal, six million people unarmed and unprovisioned, driving headlong. It was the beginning of the rout of civilization, of the massacre of mankind.” .

This has got to be one of the first and one of the best science fiction novels. It is a novel with both a message and a warning: chock full of literary merit. It is still a great read today and if you have never got round to reading it I would encourage you to do so. It is free and in the public domain. A five star book
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LibraryThing member DeltaQueen50
The classic science-fiction novel, The War of the Worlds originally appeared in serialized form in 1897. This is one of the first stories about a conflict between Earth and Alien visitors. The story is presented as a factual account related by a couple of unnamed characters that are brothers. One
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brother lives in Surrey, near where the first container from Mars lands, while the other is a doctor working in London.

I have to admit that there were parts that I found quite amusing. In typical Victorian manner, the Martians, although armed with far superior weapons were first dismissed as a novelty and most Britishers could not accept that the Martians were able to disrupt the running of English trains.

But the storyline told here is far from amusing. The Martians have launched a series of rockets which open to disgorge these alien creatures. They immediately engage in spreading death and mayhem. Many of the devices that the author invents here for the first time have gone on to become staples of science-fiction – death rays, mechanical robots, and chemical warfare all are used here to build the action and create mass hysteria. Another often used device in science fiction is what eventually brings the Martians down.

Well there was plenty of action and excitement in this story, it unfolds in rather stiff prose which causes the story to feel every bit of it’s age. This groundbreaking novel today is probably better known for its famous adaptions in films, television, and notably the Orson Welles radio play that caused quite a stir in October of 1940. This was my first experience with H. G. Wells and I admire the originality and drama that comes across in War of the Worlds. I look forward to reading more of his works.
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LibraryThing member mrtall
I first read War of the Worlds, H G Wells's classic dystopian scifi novel, in my early adolescence, and I remembered liking it a lot -- although its style was already archaic (I'm not that old), it held my attention and left me with several memorable images: the blob-like, tentacled Martians, the
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ominous walking machines, and the panicked masses of humanity.

But how many books we read 30 years ago stand up to a revisiting? In fact, War of the Worlds fares quite well in a 2010 re-reading. It's in fact better, as the pathos of the first-person narrator now strikes so much deeper as he is separated from his beloved wife, and as he encounters a series of pitiable fellow survivors as they try to make sense of the debacle, and dare to look forward to what seems a lost world and civilization.

I'd also not remembered -- or perhaps even realized in my first reading -- how much World of the Worlds is not just a scifi novel, but a London novel. The events of the story range over much of London and the Home Counties' geography; reading the book with an atlas or a browser window open to a map site is worthwhile.

Finally, Wells provides us with significant insight into the late Victorian mind. I find this period fascinating, and anyone who shares this interest (e.g. aficionados of the current 'Steampunk' design fad) will be richly rewarded by Wells's dark vision.
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LibraryThing member reeseme7

For my choice reading this summer I read War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. It was an interesting read. I wasn’t really sure I’d enjoy it because back in sixth grade I had attempted to read it but after opening the book to a random page I realized I wasn’t able to tell what
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was going on at all thanks to the author’s British writing style. However, this time around I was actually able to navigate my way through the book and it turned out to be a good read.
I was sort of confused at first; I figured the aliens would just come down and start destroying everything right off the bat. Instead some people got killed and then everything went back to normal. It was really odd to me because if I heard that aliens had landed on earth and had fried some people I’d probably start heading for the hills, but instead everyone went about their normal lives. That puzzled me a lot, how could they go through their same daily routines when aliens were already staking out their first plot of land on earth? I couldn’t seem to understand that, and I still really don’t.
As soon as the alien’s were ready to start the invasion however, things got a lot more interesting. It wasn’t interesting because people were being killed, but the need to survive, the need to stay sane despite everything crashing down around you, and the futility of staying alive only knowing that in the future you’d be enslaved by these things. It was this unstoppable wave sweeping over the world and everyone was racing to get away from it, but even if they outran it, eventually the entire world would be under this new empire and there’d be no escaping it then.
I think the best part was when the priest and main character were trapped in the house. The priest was slowly sliding into a state of insanity and it was only because he saw this could the main character keep sane. At this point I really began to dislike the priest. The main character was smart and logical, having rations to keep the food as long as possible, while the priest simply wanted to eat it all. I got infuriated at the priest when he started threatening to yell out to the aliens just to get some food. Eventually the priest just went completely insane and went to have the aliens kill him. This was probably the most exciting part of the book. Everything happened at once, the priest went completely insane and went to commit suicide, the main character almost killed the priest to make him stop yelling, but instead held back. That really showed a lot of character in the main character. Despite the aliens killing the priest anyway, the main character had even through the apocalypse kept sane and moral enough not to kill another man.
I really wish the ending hadn’t been ruined for me. I’d actually seen the second half of the newest War of the Worlds movie and because of that I knew the aliens would die of disease which really ruined part of the excitement for me. I probably would have thought H.G. Wells ended the book on a horribly depressing note that there was no stopping the aliens and soon all of mankind would be enslaved. Or maybe I would have dreamed up ways that mankind could have rallied together and beat back the aliens as they had already killed two (despite the first one really being a fluke).
I thought it was interesting though how H.G. Wells had given the perspective that we were really not much different than the aliens; we had come into power and taken over the world really. The alien’s eating us to them was really no different to us eating any animal. This whole view gave me perspective on things. Animals are really just trying to survive as the humans were just trying to survive. I also thought how the machines and weapons of the aliens while seeming completely foreign to the humans, must be like a house or maybe my cell phone or computer is foreign to a mouse or a bird.
Despite already knowing the ending, the book was still thrilling and H.G. Wells is a genius for not only thinking of such a great ending that I would have never thought of, but also being able to write a book about alien invaders that in every way relates to how “human invaders” took over the world.
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LibraryThing member Molly1221
It is a good book,and it is very interesting,anyway,i think it is a also serious story.For this book tols us some very realistic things.Whatever you are a person or you are an object,all of us are a part of the world,and we should respect the objective law to protect it.If it has a day when Mars
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invaded the earth,what should we do??It is a difficult and a little absurb question to answer,but it is very reality..Not everything can be solved with weapon,we must protect everything by ourselves,the book is an art,i think..
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LibraryThing member LouCypher
Pods hit Earth from Mars. Aliens begin there siege on mankind , using super advanced weaponry and battle techniques, it seems improbable humans will survive. Follow this first person narrative of a professor who witnesses the war of the worlds.

Great classic story. H. G. Wells was a brilliant man
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and very creative writer. If you put this book into the context of the time it was written it's amazing how accurate he was with his predictions of future technologies. Written in 1897 he was allready imagining flame-throwers, space pods, bio-warfare and robots. Amazing!
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LibraryThing member anterastilis
Review I had to write for class:
Life on Mars has become difficult for the Martians. Having sucked their planet dry, they’ve focused on the lush, undefended nineteenth-century Earth as their next home in the galaxy. Humanity is completely unprepared for an alien invasion – no mass communication,
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no disaster plans, nothing. The people of Earth watch in confusion and horror as strange metallic cylinders fall from the heavens. Mechanical monsters kill indiscriminately and swarm over the countryside. The reader follows one man’s struggle to stay alive as the world collapses around him. Will the human race be able to defend itself against the Martians superior technologies such as the heat ray and poisonous clouds, or are they doomed to be enslaved by the marauding invaders? H.G. Wells introduced the world to such a scenario with War of the Worlds, creating a genre and a vision of life in the universe that impacts science and entertainment even today.

What I really thought:
Those of you that know me, know that I really dig sci-fi in screen form. I’ve never really been able to get into Sci-fi novels…maybe I’m just dazzled by the special effects. Who knows?

Anyway, I did enjoy War of the Worlds. I had a hard time wrapping some parts of it around my mind – for example, an alien invasion in a world without mass communication. Nobody knew what was going on. People were crawling up to the spacecraft and kicking it, people were living normal lives just outside the reach of the heat rays. If this were to happen nowadays…well, you know what would happen. Skyfox 9 and Captain Bobby Ratliff would be circling the area, the Powers That Be would be analyzing what the economic and financial effects of the invasion would be – or perhaps the world would just dissolve into a haze of frenzied panic and we’d all freak out and look to our leaders for guidance – and then Bush would be able to get his stupid Social Security plan passed.

Now I’m just ranting. But you know what I mean? Something that happens on a global scale without global communication – it’s hard to fathom nowadays. I was impressed by a lot of other things in this book too – but this is the aspect that will stick in my memory.
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LibraryThing member Blenny
These days it's very easy to be blasé about stories of aliens from Mars invading Earth, as we've seen so many films and heard countless tales such as this throughout the 20th century. However for a book that was written at the end of the 19th century, surely Wells deserves awe and respect for his
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work rather than complaints of it being 'dated for the modern reader'.
It has a fantastic opening to the story that really makes you want to read on. There are so many ideas that the author tackles in such a short story such as war, destruction, survival, chaos, evolution, companionship (or lack of it).
Wells also offers a little cautionary tale in not only the prospect that we could actually be destroyed by an intelligence from another planet, but the fact that we are destroying our own world and it's inhabitants....
"And before we judge them [the Martians] too harshly, we must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as the vanished Bison and the Dodo, but upon its own inferior races. The Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space of fifty years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit?"
The only downside is that Wells leaves a few unanswered threads to the story.
It's exciting, fun and it raises questions about the human race. As usual, H.G Wells is very much ahead of his time. - That's why we are still making films and adaptations of his stories!
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LibraryThing member laurenbethy
War of the Worlds was a little slow for me, and also a little cheesy, but it is a revolutionary book for its time (and pretty short) so it's worthwhile to read. It was hard for me to get attached to the main character and that is key for me liking books, but it was fun to see what things H.G. Wells
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came up with in a time when science fiction literature didn't exist.
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LibraryThing member slansell
A very scary book for me and i've been de-sensitised by a childhood full of freddie kruger so how people felt at the turn of the century reading this i can't imagine. Well written apart from the fast ending, a must read before watching that travesty of a film.
LibraryThing member npl
Humanity doesn’t always bring the apocalypse upon themselves, as shown in The War of the Worlds. Written as an allegorical interpretation of the colonization of Tasmania, Wells invaded planet Earth by Martians with vast technological superiority. The war is told through the eyes of Londoner who
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witnesses the arrival of the Martians, their battlefield victories, and the resulting devastation. Human science and bravery amount to nothing before the invaders. In the end, survival of the world will depend on the smallest of Earth’s inhabitants. Wells penned a thought provoking tale which cases the reader to re-examine the assumptions of the evolution of civilization and technology as well as mankind’s place in the cosmos. For another interesting story, investigate how Wells’ original radio broadcast of his novel was received!
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LibraryThing member akangas
War of the Worlds is a book that tells the story of a man, the narrator, and his plight through England in order to find his wife after an alien attack on the world. I enjoyed the book very much, especially the characters. They were very developed, considering that there were a few reoccurring
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ones. I also liked the author’s attention to detail. The settings were really well put together. I disliked the lack of action. One would think that a book about Martians attacking would be violent, but it wasn’t.
The characters in the book were the most likable part. I thought that they were very well developed. The book was an average length, and there were only five or six important and reoccurring characters, so it is no wonder that they were very developed and understood characters. The main character, who also narrates the story, is a very detailed character, because it is easy to see his goal throughout the story, and figure out his personality. He is a caring person, but will only do what he needs to survive.
Another thing that I liked was the very detailed descriptions. The author made the settings very clear and easy to picture. The settings didn’t change much, like the characters, so they were familiar, and easy to understand what was going on at the time. Everything that happened in the book was very precise with the amount of detail given by the author. There were very few issues with the details. I liked the amount of detail given by HG Wells a lot.
The lack of action was a dislike of mine. The story of a Martian attack seems like there would be a lot of action, but there wasn’t. It did leave room for more detail, but that was somewhat less important with not as much happening in the well described locations. It made the book, which was relatively short seem very long and less engaging. There wasn’t even that much dialogue, so not much was happening. Where there was action, it was in very quick short bursts, and was hard to follow, making the pace very inconsistent, and not as enjoyable.
War of the Worlds is an excellent book. Though it has a slow pace, with few fast parts, the characters and details make it an extraordinary book. It is a good book for a committed reader, because it is not an action-packed book as the title implies. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
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LibraryThing member longhorndaniel
The fact that this was written in 1890's is simply astonishing!! Have seen both versions of movie of course and while they were good; I like the original story better (with the exception of the whole London being the best city in the world thang); all sci fi fans should read this
LibraryThing member P_S_Patrick
Better than his Invisible Man, but not as good as his Time Machine (which still rates as one of my top Sci Fi stories).

Here the earth is invaded by Martians, and we hear the tale from the point of view of one survivor. I thought the end was good, and made sense from a scientific point of view
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(though a few other details were a little bit more difficult to accept). Tedious in some places, but overall worth reading, as it was such an influential contribution to the genre, and is quite good in places.
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LibraryThing member Bagpuss
I loved War of the Worlds from start to finish! I guess it helped knowing the musical inside out (I love it!) even if there are some differences from the book.

A strange cylinder lands on Horsell Common and hearing noises coming from it people who have gathered to witness the strange spectacle
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assume a man is trapped inside, but are driven back by the intense heat. What emerges from the cylinder, however, is something strange, terrifying and completely unwelcome – Martians. Further cylinders arrive and it soon becomes apparent that the Martians are intent on taking over earth – using humans as food. As panic ensues, the protagonist heads towards London – hoping to escape his almost certain fate. The narrator is full of despair as it seems that the earth is doomed, but when it seems that nothing can save the planet something completely unexpected happens that could change the situation for the better…

What a great book. If you're not a particular fan of classics or sci-fi but are curious to try some then this would be an excellent place to start.
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LibraryThing member Cynical_Ames
A tale of two halves. An excellent, attention-grabbing opening which gradually deteriorates into an uninteresting and contrived mess made for skimming.

What I loved:

tantalizing foreshadowing
And invisible to me because it was so remote and small, flying swiftly and steadily towards me across that
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incredible distance , drawing nearer every minute by so many thousands of miles, came the Thing they were sending us, the Thing that was to bring so much struggle and calamity and death to the earth.

the arrogance of man believing he is alone in the universe
Yet so vain is man, and so blinded by his vanity, that no writer, up to the very end of the nineteenth century, expressed any idea that intelligent life might have developed there far, or indeed at all, beyond its earthly level.

realistic emotional responses ranging from terror, panic and post-traumatic stress from witnessing the horrors of war to determined attempts to ignore and deny this frightening new reality
“It’s a movin’,” he said to me as he passed; “a-screwin’, and a-screwin’ out. I don’t like it . I’m a-goin’ ’ome, I am.”

Suddenly , like a thing falling upon me from without, came— fear. With an effort I turned and began a stumbling run through the heather. The fear I felt was no rational fear, but a panic terror not only of the Martians, but of the dusk and stillness all about me. Such an extraordinary effect in unmanning me it had that I ran weeping silently as a child might do.

At times I suffer from the strangest sense of detachment from myself and the world about me; I seem to watch it all from the outside, from somewhere inconceivably remote, out of time, out of space, out of the stress and tragedy of it all.

intimate brushes with death

I staggered through the leaping, hissing water towards the shore. Had my foot stumbled, it would have been the end.

graphic imagery
It was as if each man were suddenly and momentarily turned to fire. Then, by the light of their own destruction, I saw them staggering and falling, and their supporters turning to run.

...enormous volume of heavy, inky vapour, coiling and pouring upward in a huge and ebony cumulus cloud, a gaseous hill that sank and spread itself slowly over the surrounding country. And the touch of that vapour, the inhaling of its pungent wisps, was death to all that breathes.

They did not eat, much less digest. Instead, they took the fresh living blood of other creatures, and injected it into their own veins.

The man was running away with the rest, and selling his papers for a shilling each as he ran— a grotesque mingling of profit and panic.

I put out my hand and felt the meat chopper hanging to the wall. In a flash I was after him. I was fierce with fear. Before he was halfway across the kitchen I had overtaken him. With one last touch of humanity I turned the blade back and struck him with the butt. He went headlong forward and lay stretched on the ground. I stumbled over him and stood panting. He lay still.

men clutching at religion
“Why are these things permitted? What sins have we done? The morning service was over, I was walking through the roads to clear my brain for the afternoon, and then— fire, earthquake, death! As if it were Sodom and Gomorrah! All our work undone, all the work— What are these Martians?”


“Be a man!” said I. “You are scared out of your wits! What good is religion if it collapses under calamity? Think of what earthquakes and floods, wars and volcanoes, have done before to men! Did you think God had exempted Weybridge? He is not an insurance agent.”


cold hard comparisons between the relationship between Martians and man and man and the animals
And we men, the creatures who inhabit this earth, must be to them at least as alien and lowly as are the monkeys and lemurs to us.

And before we judge of them too harshly we must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as the vanished bison and the dodo, but upon its inferior races.

“It’s bows and arrows against the lightning, anyhow,” said the artilleryman.

Did they grasp that we in our millions were organised, disciplined, working together? Or did they interpret our spurts of fire, the sudden stinging of our shells, our steady investment of their encampment, as we should the furious unanimity of onslaught in a disturbed hive of bees? Did they dream they might exterminate us?

“This isn’t a war,” said the artilleryman. “It never was a war, any more than there’s war between man and ants.”

the artilleryman's postulating on the post-apocalyptic rebuilding of society
And we form a band— able-bodied, clean-minded men. We’re not going to pick up any rubbish that drifts in. Weaklings go out again.”


Able-bodied, clean-minded women we want also— mothers and teachers. No lackadaisical ladies—no blasted rolling eyes. We can’t have any weak or silly. Life is real again, and the useless and cumbersome and mischievous have to die. They ought to die. They ought to be willing to die. It’s a sort of disloyalty , after all, to live and taint the race.

actual science in this science fiction
In particular I laid stress on the gravitational difficulty. On the surface of the earth the force of gravity is three times what it is on the surface of Mars. A Martian, therefore, would weigh three times more than on Mars, albeit his muscular strength would be the same. His own body would be a cope of lead to him.

Apparently the vegetable kingdom in Mars, instead of having green for a dominant colour, is of a vivid blood-red tint. At any rate, the seeds which the Martians (intentionally or accidentally) brought with them gave rise in all cases to red-coloured growths. Only that known popularly as the red weed, however, gained any footing in competition with terrestrial forms.

As you can probably tell, all of these things I highlighted with a fervor on my Kindle.

What I didn't appreciate was the contrived and rather dull nature of the latter half of the story, most of which I skimmed. Meeting the artilleryman again miles and days away from where and when they first met - the odds of that are infinitesimal, the aliens abruptly dying from Earth's alien bacteria, the narrator's wife not only surviving but is reunited with her husband. And why was the narrator's brother's point of view given? We never see the brothers together. He's just a stranger to us as the reader.

However, I did raise my eyebrows at these unintentional funnies:

'cockchafer' - apparently this is a beetle but that's not what came to mind when I saw it.

His landlady came to the door, loosely wrapped in dressing gown and shawl; her husband followed ejaculating.

Er, what? That's a bit spicy.

I was initially impressed by this classic. Unfortunately the ending left me disappointed.
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LibraryThing member Ambrosia4
Last year I read [The Island of Dr. Moreau] and was not at all enthused, so I undertook this with a bit of trepidation. Moreau made me feel vaguely ill and did not help me understand Wells' distinction as "the father of science fiction" at all. This book helped me understand it on several levels
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and revived my interest in the classics of the scifi genre.

My edition (the Signet Classics version that mooched) had an afterword by Isaac Asimov, which besides being wonderfully written, helped put the book into context, which allowed me to drain even more meaning from the book that I already had. Unlike in Moreau, I saw where Wells' observations of humanity and philosophical leanings came in. His descriptions of chaos brought on by the Martian's terror and destruction could have been true in the late 1800's, the 1950's, or now. The ideas of men with whom the narrator spoke would be the same no matter what decade they were in. And while the science may have been proven to be false, the idea of otherworldly invasion is certainly still seen as terrifying.

Asimov's afterword further brought up the parallels of the conquering European colonizers and the crushing Martian overlords. While this did not occur to me while reading the novel, it allowed me to drain a little more insight from Wells' head, which was a pleasure. It also allowed to further appreciate the timelessness of some of Wells' passages, particularly the "for neither do men live nor die in vain", as well as the strongest opening of any novel I've read this year.

While Moreau did not age particularly well, I believe [The War of the Worlds] will continue to be easy to read no matter how many years pass and new scifi novels are written. I recommend it to all scifi fans as a way to understand the basis of the genre and develop an appreciation for the timelessness of certain novels (which I find a particular downfall with many scifi novels).
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LibraryThing member sometimeunderwater
Obviously a classic, but the novel has been bettered by future adaptations (radio, film, etc.). The book has some dull moments, and the ending (which some adaptations have made into an amazing twist) is squandered in the book. Having your protagonist wonder "perhaps X will save humanity" makes it
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much less interesting when, yes, in the end, X saves humanity.
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LibraryThing member ecataldi
I know, I know - a classic that I'm just now reading. Prior to this I had only ever seen the Tom Cruise film adaptation! Better late than never. The fact that this was written when it was - before electronics and technology as we know it was incredible. It set the tone for science fiction as we
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know it. The parts I didn't love were the constant name dropping of towns (If I saw the word Woking one more damn time...) and the slow build - sometimes on the point of boring drudgery. Overall though it's a fantastic piece of literature - even if my lazy ass brain had to struggle through parts of it. It definitely made me want to watch more film versions if nothing else.
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LibraryThing member SmithSJ01
Very easy to read and exceptionally well written. This is a novel that each generation can take something different from. I liked the descriptions of many of the Victorians as the spaceships came from the sky – such a solid British image of “they won’t make me leave home”. An image I could
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vividly imagine. It’s a short read that has packed a lot into it. Words aren’t wasted, which is why it is the length it is. I’m sure HG Wells could easily have added more description but it wasn’t necessary. A fabulous story.
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LibraryThing member Bobby3457
I thought that this was a great book. The idea of aliens invading our planet was great. When this was first read everyone thought that it was real and that made me interested in the book in the first place. It made me think, wow, this has to be good if people think that it is actually true. I liked
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the fact that this book had original ideas that people had not really thought about. Aliens with lasers that can evaporate people and that they can send gasses into the air that kill people by making them suffocate. This was a great idea for a story and I think that the book was fantastic. It came out when my grandfather was my age and that makes it cool that i am reading it now. I think that anyone that likes science fiction or anything like that should read this book and see how they like it.

This book is about aliens that come from outerspace for no apperent reason other than to wipe out the human race. First, there is only one capsule that people know about. When it opens and people see what is inside they are afraid. They should be especially since the aliens start killing the people as soon as they get up. The humans cannot do anything to stop them. Even when they try to use tanks, they can't really do anything because the aliens just repair each other. By the end, there is one character that thinks he is alone in the world then he finds out that the only people that are still alive have gone crazy. It was a good book and I think that I will read it again.
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LibraryThing member NeveMaslakovic
A classic. Reread it recently, had forgotten how rich and vivid Wells' writing is. A gripping, taut story. And that great first line:

"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..."
LibraryThing member NurseBob
Truly a classic from one of the grandfathers of science fiction, but one which hasn't aged entirely well. It is an exciting premise delivered with a frankness (death and destruction) I usually associate with more contemporary writing. However the non-stop mentioning of place names---towns, roads,
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hills, forests, intersections, suburbs---ad nauseam eventually grates, as does the very long passages describing the narrator's wanderings. The visuals of a blasted landscape ring clear though, and the sometimes dry philosophizing occasionally hits a nerve as when a disillusioned soldier envisions a glorious future for mankind in which dog eats dog and only the fittest survive. I'm glad I read the source material but I think I'll stick to the movies.
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LibraryThing member cmbohn
Wow! I read this over 20 years ago and only remembered that it was pretty good. This time around, I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed it! Intense stuff! Those Martians are seriously Bad News.

The story is probably more or less familiar to almost everyone, so I won't go over it again in too much
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detail. But Martians have invaded England, and they are not coming as friendly tourists. They are here to destroy. It takes them a while to get moving, but once they do, their Death Ray takes out everyone in sight. And then they get even more clever.

There were two parts that really struck me as just amazing writing. The first was the scene in London when the entire population of the city is trying to get out. It's nothing but mass panic and complete chaos. Wells is extremely believable. The part about the man trying to save his gold coins while an enraged cabdriver runs him down was so vivid that it will stay with me for a long, long time.

The other part I loved was when the narrator and the artilleryman were making plans for life under the Martians. The artilleryman is convinced they will all be rounded up and used as cattle, unless they are prepared to fight. As he was talking, I could imagine exactly what he meant, how everything would change forever.

It's always good when a classic actually lives up to its reputation, and for me, this was definitely one of those times. Now I want to read The Time Machine again and see if that one is just as good. 5 stars.
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