After recently reading The Time Machine, many of you suggested that I should read “The War of the Worlds.” Thanks to the free/cheap classics on Kindle, I’m discovering a love for Victorian science fiction.
As far as the plot, there’s not much to say that hasn’t been said elsewhere. The book is broken into two halves. The first half can be summarized as “Holy shit! There are Martians! Let’s all run around like chickens with their heads chopped off!” In the second half, our dear narrator realizes that he dumped his wife to go see the aforementioned Martians, and that he really ought to be finding her. The whole leaving the wife somewhere ostensibly safe that really isn’t because there are frickin’ Martians is not a very nice thing to do, in my opinion. If there’s a zombie apocalypse or alien invasion, my boyfriend and I are sticking together. There will be no “Sit here while I go adventuring.”
Aside from the narrator’s questionable judgement, I did enjoy the book. Like The Time Machine, the story paints a broader picture of society and forms a critique on British colonialism. Constant parallels are drawn between the way that Europeans treated the natives and the way that the Martians treat the humans, although I doubt that in the event of an alien invasion humanity would learn its lesson. Wells is very optimistic in that respect.
Of the two H. G. Wells novels that I’ve read thus far, I did prefer “The Time Machine,” in part because “The War of the Worlds” feels a bit dated. It was very imaginative and reflected the fears and science of the time in which it was written, but considering the fact that we’ve put stuff on Mars, the Martians seem a bit more comical than terrifying. However, I was a big fan of the Martian technology, and the way that the Martians had no concept of a wheel.
Overall, I’d say that “The War of the Worlds” is definitely worth the read, if only for the fact that it inspired so many later works and renditions. It’s also great if you’re looking for science fiction that has a deeper socio-political message.
This book counts toward The 2012 Science Fiction Experience, hosted by Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings and the Speculative Fiction Challenge 2012, hosted by Baffled Books. It also counts toward the Vintage SciFi Not-a-Challenge, hosted by The Little Red Reviewer.