I realized the other day, that I could not truly call myself a Sci-Fi fan nor writer for one very specific reason: I had never read The War of the Worlds by HG Wells, a staple of the Sci-Fi community. Thankfully, I was able to solve this quickly, as I had found the book for twenty five cents at a rummage sale.
Considering it to have originally be written over one hundred years ago in 1898, I will admit that I expected to be bored. And, to be fair, some parts of the book did seem to be long and drawn out. The first two chapters especially suffered from an information dump in the exposition, and really had me dragging my feet in order to finish the book. However, once the Martians landed, the pace did indeed pick up and I rapidly read through the book in the course of an afternoon outside.
It is written in a journalistic style, which really lends itself to the credibility of the tale. I can understand now why people thought Mars truly was attacking during the Audio Drama of it in 1938. My only complaint is that the first part of the book–The Coming of the Martians–also told the story of his brother and two women who were trying to escape the attacks by fleeing off the coast of England. How would the narrator ever learn of this, especially since the ending of this section made it seem as though his brother died, never to be heard from again. This question, on if the brother is alive or not, is a sticking point with me even after finishing the book a few weeks ago.
While unremarkable in this day and age, it was completely revolutionary in its time, especially due to the fact that it included space travel, evolution, the threat of bacteria, as well as blood transfusions as a form of survival. These ideas might seem commonplace now, but in 1898, the thought of leaving Earth was something that was only dreamed about.
This book is said to have inspired Robert H. Goddard to his career choice of inventing rockets, rockets that eventually brought the Apollo project to the moon. Far-reaching results indeed.
Numerous audio dramas, film adaptations, and even a few comic books shows have come from this book that, in 1898 was said to be too brutal for the average reader.
While not the best book out there, it is one that I feel should be on every person’s reading list as a Book that Shaped Our World.
Five out of five stars for the lasting impression it has left, though only four out of five for the actual book itself.
Find it here