The War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells … Review by Yokibu Editorial
Posted on: April 13, 2021.

The book we are reviewing this week is an 1898 science fiction novel by Herbert George Wells—acclaimed author of earlier works like The Invisible Man (1897) and The Time Machine (1895)—of 287 pages.

H. G. Wells, as the author is commonly known as, is accredited with pioneering and popularizing the “alien invasion” theme of science fiction through his critically and commercially successful works, worldwide.

The War of the Worlds is about the invasion of Planet Earth by a legion of extraterrestrials—from Planet Mars. “Worlds”, here, are Earth and Mars, and the “War” is between humans and Martians.

The story has been written by H. G. Wells as a first-person narrative between a professor and his brother, at the Ottershaw Observatory, after having witnessed the Martian terror-attack at Surrey, England.

The story begins even before the attacks start on Earth, when the professor and his astronomer-friend Ogilvy observe, through the observatory’s telescope, a series of strange flashes across several nights in Mars.

The Martians terrorize London with their hideous three-legged “destruction machines”, poisonous, noxious, and toxic “Black Smoke” and laser-like “Heat Rays” that incinerates anything it touches.

Descriptions of many scientific and military technologies—and evolution theories predating Darwin’s Origin of Species—were conceptualized by the author, purely through retrospection, nearly 50-60 years in advance!

Man is compared with lower animals by H. G. Wells throughout his book, with such ethicality and morality, that makes it increasingly unsettling—fundamentally, humans are microbes under the Martians’ microscope.

Humans are compared to monkeys, lemurs, dodo birds, bison, ants, frogs, rabbits, bees, wasps, and rats—animals exploited or exterminated by humans, without compassion.

The Martians’ treatment of humans, and humans’ treatment of animals, is a connection the narrator never fails to make. However, humans don’t only destroy other animals—also fair game are other humans.

The author changes perspective to view the human diet from the point of view of an animal that is typically regarded as food—just as he discovers that Martians regard human beings as food.

The following two excerpts from the novel describe this—

“I think that we should remember how repulsive our carnivorous habits would seem to an intelligent rabbit”.

“And before we judge of them too harshly, we must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as the vanished bison and the dodo, but upon its own inferior races. The Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space of fifty years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit?”

Criticisms of colonialism, religious hypocrisy, and even how humans treat animals, philosophically punctuate huge tripod machines striding around the country and deadly heat rays destroying everything in its wake.

The War of the Worlds isn’t only about bloodthirsty Martians trying to take over Earth, starting with Great Britain—equal attention is also given to the ways in which people react during crisis.

Often thrilling, skillfully structured and narrated with unexpected moments of philosophizing, and made surreal through dialogue, The War of The Worlds would be the landmark literary achievement of H. G. Wells.

Any good review—hopefully one such as this!—would give readers a fairly good idea of the beginning, middle, and end of The War of The Worlds, without ever having to read the book…

…but only through physically reading the book can a reader thoroughly enjoy the marvelously immersive and visual storytelling and the subtexts embedded in the original texts of H. G. Wells!


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