0213 | The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells


Context: Finished this off on a run through the autumn leaves reminiscent of the red weed.

As a young teenager I was fascinated by Jeff Wayne’s musical version of War of the Worlds. I loved the music and the thought of those Martian machines storming the landscape sparked my imagination. This was further fuelled by the BBC’s amazing drama The Tripods based on the John Christopher novel which borrowed heavily from Wells.

Let’s face it, who hasn’t borrowed from Wells? Anyone who can influence Orson Wells gets my vote. Wells was a genius. I detected plenty of influences from earlier novels though like House on the Borderland and it is definitely a book tat joins the dots in terms of literary history.

Unlike much sci-fi of that era, I actually enjoyed it, in particular the opening chapters. Once the Martians had bedded in and the narrator was on his own and meets the Artilleryman though, things got a bit philosophical for me as sci-fi is wont to do in my experience (with the ultimate Martian novel Stranger in a Strange Land being the ultimate example).

It’s also a great example of ethnocentrism – as if you’d come all the way from Mars and choose to land in a London suburb! Brilliant.

A valuable novel and a decent read too.

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.

And strangest of all is it to hold my wife’s hand again, and to think that I have counted her, and she has counted me, among the dead.

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