Reviewing the Classics #6: War of the Worlds

This is one of those cases where I basically did it to myself. First of all, I’m not usually all that keen on the kind of books where aliens come to the world. Blame it on my over-active imagination, but it tends to give me nightmares. Secondly, I’ve reached the conclusion – years ago, probably – that male authors from the turn of the century (19th to 20th, that is)? Not really my preferred writing style. None the less, I really wanted to read this one – and I’m actually pretty proud I did. Because, at least, now I can say I read something by H.G. Wells – War of the Worlds, none the less!

So, maybe you’re wondering now: if you figured you probably weren’t going to like it, then why on earth did you go ahead and read it?

Well, it’s really all my professor’s fault. You see, in 1938, this novel was adapted to a radio play. It caused one of the – to this day! – most famous cases of mass hysteria due to the fact that it was set up as if Orson Welles, the author, was reading a news bulletin. Many people actually thought there were actually Martians coming down and attacking!

As I’ve mentioned before, I study Journalism, and in one of my classes on News and Its Effects we discussed this case. So, you know… Naturally, me being me, I immediately decided I was going to read the original. Yeah, I definitely regretted that at times!

Plotline

As per the usual, I’m going to call on Goodreads for this ๐Ÿ™‚

With H.G. Wellsโ€™ other novels, The War of the Worlds was one of the first and greatest works of science fiction ever to be written. Even long before man had learned to fly, H.G. Wells wrote this story of the Martian attack on England. These unearthly creatures arrive in huge cylinders, from which they escape as soon as the metal is cool. The first falls near Woking and is regarded as a curiosity rather than a danger until the Martians climb out of it and kill many of the gaping crowd with a Heat-Ray. These unearthly creatures have heads four feet in diameter and colossal round bodies, and by manipulating two terrifying machines โ€“ the Handling Machine and the Fighting Machine โ€“ they are as versatile as humans and at the same time insuperable. They cause boundless destruction. The inhabitants of the Earth are powerless against them, and it looks as if the end of the World has come. But there is one factor which the Martians, in spite of their superior intelligence, have not reckoned on. It is this which brings about a miraculous conclusion to this famous work of the imagination.

Probably one of the things I enjoyed less about this book, was actually that “one factor” which the Martians had not reckoned on that kind of felt a bit disappointing to me. Then again, taken into account the time in which this was written? It probably sounded like more of a believable thing ๐Ÿ™‚

What’s to review?

So, I mean – I didn’t really like this all that much. Because, well, basically… It sounds so amazing, right? Martians attack the world, humanity will prevail, and so on and so forth. But basically the entire book just felt like I was waiting for something to happen – which it never did.

So there’s two big things to this book. On the one hand, the way in which technology and science come forth was really quite interesting – even if just because it gave a fun view on the way these things were perceived at the time.

On the other time, there was this sort of negativity about humanity as a whole. I don’t know that that is necessarily what the author intended, but I found it to be quite present none the less.

For some reason I’m really having quite a bit of trouble actually reviewing this one. Just because I feel like there’s not really all that muchย to review? I didn’t particularlyย hate reading War of the Worlds. But then again, I didn’t actuallyย enjoy it either. It basically kind of felt like doing the dishes. Not necessarily you enjoy doing, but the end result (a clean kitchen, or in this case:ย I read something by H.G. Wells!) is worth just doing it for.

I honestly don’t know if that makes any sense whatsoever, but it’s how I felt about the book nonetheless. It’s not a book I would necessarily recommend to anyone, but if you want to read a classic that’s kind of science fiction-ish? You might just want to go ahead and give this one a try!

-Saar