The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (1898)

Go down

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (1898)

Post  BoG on Tue Jan 18, 2011 9:56 pm

A long time ago, around 1986 or so, I began to receive special hardcover editions of famous science fiction novels. These were from Easton Press, their 'Masterpieces of Science Fiction' collection - they weren't free, of course; I paid a pretty penny for each edition. I stopped the process after a little over a dozen books had been sent my way - one of these, fortunately, was The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells.
I noticed a thread on this novel at another board... it caused me to look to that special bookshelf where those hardcovers were gaining dust. Strange are the workings of fate. It seems as if I was saving those books for a special month or something - a month of exploration. I've waited a very long time - over 20 years - rather shameful on my part. Still, this dereliction of literary duty has come to an end, finally. I brushed away the dust (think Rod Taylor in The Time Machine film, finding those old books, though my book doesn't fall apart) and began: No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century...
Wells imparts much ominous warnings in these early pages, later some terror, as the invaders begin their assault. As I read, I thought, how odd... it now seems that every science fiction tale of invaders in the 20th century merely copied this story by Wells. The two film adaptations that I know of (1953 & 2005 - and, yes, there was at least one other recent low-budget version) failed to capture the full intensity of Wells' presentation for different reasons.

Let's take the first use of the Martians' heat ray (chapter 5 in the book is merely titled 'The Heat-Ray' - I wonder what readers of 100 or more years ago made of that title? I knew what it was about, having the advantage of a 21st century perspective, but back then..?). Wells unleashes this ghastly weapon on a huge crowd, 200 or so persons; it's a terrifying scene. In the 1st fifties film, this scene, the initial discharge of the weapon, was changed to impact just 3 poor souls; it lacked Wells' scope, the assault on a huge crowd. In the 2005 version, the scene copied Wells' description, though in modern times, but Tom Cruise was a distraction; it would have worked better if his character were played by an unknown - the true everyman.
The book has some color illustrations (above). Easton Press included a Collector's Notes paper with each edition and an intro by J.B. Priestley. This story was first published as a serial in 1897, in Pearson's Magazine and in book form in 1898. As mentioned, it introduced the concept of inimical aliens (I had to look that up - hostile). Many consider The Time Machine to be Wells' sci-fi masterpiece, but The War of the Worlds may have been the more successful, at least popularly. Wells would imagine a world which finally achieved a rational world government after some catastrophe; he couldn't imagine a reformation of government/human nature without such soul-shaking experience. And it was soul shaking. I'm almost hesitant to continue reading, anticipating the onslaught which Wells will most certainly describe.

Another thread at another board compared all this to Star Trek's Prime Directive; isn't this the clearest (and, again, the earliest) example of complete disregard for such a directive? Wells continually compares the human race to, for example, monkeys, as the Martians must certainly regard us. In other words, the Martians are as above us as we are above monkeys or maybe even lemurs. And, we (most of us, at least) don't really treat the rest of the animal kingdom very well, do we? Not unless it involves pets, such as dogs and cats. So, in that regard, the Martians' approach towards us, towards our 'habitat,' is not really surprising, is it? BoG's Grade: 9

Postscript: and what of the similarity of the two names - H.G. Wells and Orson Welles, who made that horrific radio broadcast in 1938. Strange indeed are the workings of fate....
avatar
BoG
Galaxy Overlord
Galactus
Galaxy Overlord  Galactus

Posts : 3265
Join date : 2010-02-28
Location : Earth-1

http://bogscifi.forumotions.net

Back to top Go down

and another Mars invasion

Post  BoG on Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:11 pm

I discovered that another version of Wells' War of the Worlds was serialized in early 1898. This was before the copyright laws which we all take for granted today. Back then, an author's ideas could be rudely appropriated as a matter of course. In January 1898, the Boston Post began to serialize another version of Wells' story called "Fighters From Mars - or The Terrible War Of The Worlds as it was waged near Boston in the year 1900". The serialization was a great success and a sequel was quickly produced - "Edison's Conquest of Mars." Here is the full story & link:
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
In this, the hero was real life famed personality Thomas Edison. He led a fighting force all the way to Mars to face the Martians on their home turf. After I read about this, I realized that this plot was appropriated by the makers of the famous Mars Attacks cards from Topps in 1962! Strange indeed are the workings of fate...
avatar
BoG
Galaxy Overlord
Galactus
Galaxy Overlord  Galactus

Posts : 3265
Join date : 2010-02-28
Location : Earth-1

http://bogscifi.forumotions.net

Back to top Go down

Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum