Becky's Reviews > The War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
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Oct 02, 08

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bookshelves: science-fiction, classics, dystopias, reviewed, apocalyptic-types, 2008, owned
Recommended for: everyone
Read in October, 2008

As I was reading this, two thoughts struck me.

The first was that this book was less about Martians than it was about how humanity views itself as the "Kings of the Earth". Mankind has always had this annoying tendency to think that whatever serves us is good and right, despite whatever injury is done to the Earth and any other living creature on it in obtaining whatever it is that we want. The Martian invasion served only to open our eyes to this blindness and willful ignorance.

I appreciated some of the artilleryman's ideas on cohabitation, in so far as he compared the surviving humans to rodents or small animals -- the Martians (as the "New Kings of the Earth") will let us be, as we mean them no harm-- unless they run out of food, that is. Isn't this really how animals must see us? I think so. Too bad that's not true... Humans will hunt, kill and exploit for the sport of it, not just for survival.

The invasion in the book awakens us to the fact that there is always someone bigger, badder and meaner out there to hunt humans as if we are now the animals.

But I digress!

My second thought was that it was really odd that all 7 of the mentioned Martian cylinders landed in England. I mean, even if we expand this to include Ireland, Scotland and Wales, we are talking about an area of 151,502 square miles. Compare this to Asia at 17,700,000 square miles or even Europe at 3,930,000 square miles. (Figures are from Google.)

About 3/4 through the book, it's mentioned that other cylinders are probably wreaking havoc on other parts of the world. I suppose it must be assumed that they had some trajectory and that the cylinders were shot at the same time each day to follow it, but then why only aim at one area if world domination is your goal?

In this one particular, I could not suspend my disbelief to allow for 7 out of 10 cylinders to hit such a small area of the planet.

I am probably over-thinking this... I feel better after getting all of that off of my chest though! I did really enjoy the story itself, and would definitely recommend it to anyone. It's short enough so that it is not a daunting read, but it contains such a large story that it is immensely entertaining.
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Reading Progress

10/01 page 120
82.76% "This book has taken a long time due to family being in town!"
02/07 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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message 1: by Ben (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ben Babcock The choice of landing spot bugged me too, so I started a topic about it (and the book as "invasion literature" in general) back when it was a group read for the Sci-Fi & Fantasy group.

Jonathan I believe that Wells' original intent was that this was a Martian expeditionary force established solely in England.

message 3: by James (new) - added it

James Great review, brought up some good points. As I remember there were flying Martian machines too, but the narrator and his brother would only comment on England. And yeah, the science of the day was not accurate -- cannons from Mars shooting a target area with cylinders -- but I think the invasion was a metaphor for, as you say, comments on Man.

D351 The reason they all land in England is they were scouts, not an invasion force. They were setting up a base camp. The choice of England simply puts it in a place Wells knew well. As for other cylinders, that was speculation of the main character an disproven later. My thoughts on this subject of location is this: Had we sent more people when we first landed on the moon, do you think we would have spread them out all over the place? I doubt it.

D351 Also the metaphor about animals was also meant to apply to "savages" as our colonialist western culture has historically referred to people who differ from itself culturally. I didn't really think Wells made this clear enough though.

message 6: by Pedley (new)

Pedley Don't forget that in 1898 when this was written, England was the most powerful country in the world by a very large margin. Destroying London would throw the whole British Empire into chaos and take out humanity's best chance of defence in one move.

The Martian invasion can be compared to British colonial expansion in a lot of ways

Fawkes Phoenix I like your comments on the "Kings of the earth". An analogy stuck out to me where the author said men trying to understand Martians is like a rabbit trying to understand men. I might have messed up the phrasing but you get the gist. At another point wells also referred to men as ants. Really good points about how we trod around thinking so highly of ourselves, thinking ourselves invincible, while the damage we do to other beings goes unnoticed.

Luke Johnson My personal interpretation of the choice of landing, is that having studied the Earth at length and studies man's activities, it becomes clear that the dominant force of the late 19th century was the British empire.

As some have pointed out this was merely a scouting style reconnaissance invasion designed to complete disable the epicenter of the ruling empire. In other words London.

The Martians landed outside London and waded in laying waste to the surrounding areas, this created a springboard with which to invade London. Having crushed the main power of the planet, from there the mass colonisation of rest of the globe could be planned.

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