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Review: The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

The War of the WorldsThe War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is one of the first sci-fi books I read in grade school, so it made quite an impression. The story is a firsthand account of an Englishman’s experiences during a Martian invasion. You really feel the Londoners’ sense of panic, fear, and helplessness.

A major theme is that humans, the arrogant (and ignorant) dominant species on Earth, are humbled by their failure to repel the Martians despite their best military strategies and technologies. I liked the Martians’ heat rays and tripods, and especially the battle with the ship Thunder Child. Every time I read this book, I want a modern-day rematch!

The book is best enjoyed as a product of it’s time (1898), and forgiven its scientifically inaccurate ideas about biology and space travel. The Martians have evolved to become simply tentacled heads containing massive brains; over time, they’ve lost skeletons and limbs, as well as digestive, reproductive, and immune systems. The book was written before the invention of flight, so one must overlook the space transportation being cylinders shot from the surface of Mars.

Given the apocalyptic nature of the story, it’s not surprising that there are a few mentions of religion. At one point, the narrator asks a panicked clergyman,
“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.”
One of my favorite lines in literature appears at the beginning of this book:
“Yet across the gulf of space...intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded our planet with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.”
I listened to the free LibriVox audiobook.





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