Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al (livredor) wrote,
Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al
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Book: The War of the Worlds

Author: HG Wells

Details: Originally published 1898; Pub 1980 Pan Books Ltd; ISBN 0-33-024332-2; Gutenberg text

Verdict: The War of the Worlds is not a bad little piece of early SF.

Reasons for reading it: lethargic_man lent me the musical a while back and thought I should read the original novel to C&C.

How it came into my hands: lethargic_man lent it to me.

The War of the Worlds surprised me by how short it is; I think it might be generally true that a hundred years ago, mainstream novels were longer than is common today and SF novels were shorter. Anyway, it's little more than a novella, with a fairly straightforward plot. It is readable and exciting and manages to capture the human side of the disaster caused by the Martian attacks. The ending if anything seems a little sudden; I like the twist, but felt it could have been developed more.

It's rather interesting reading century-old near future stuff. tWotW gives a very vivid picture of life at the turn of the century, even as it is showing the destruction of this society. One thing that really struck me about it is the concept that news of a significant alien attack in Woking could take three days to trickle through to London! The disturbing thing is that it uses a lot of hyperbole about how the Martians' weapons cause devastation on a previously unimaginable scale, but the descriptions of the fate of London seem fairly bland to a modern reader, in comparison with even the 'ordinary' bombardment of the Blitz (let alone the atomic bombs).

The other thing that's cute is the way that Wells keeps throwing in comments about the latest cutting edge of technology for the time; things like making a point of discussing the spectroscopic analysis of the Martian objects. This is very much a geek's book in general , lots of description of the Martians' wonderful machines and speculation about how alien biology might work. The narrator is the kind of character who would be thought of as a geek if he lived in a more modern novel anyway. The twist at the end is very much in the Asimov tradition, it's a plot device that depends on a particular facet of science.

All in all, a fun and original adventure story.
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