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The War of the Worlds

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3.83  ·  Rating details ·  266,540 ratings  ·  8,985 reviews
When an army of invading Martians lands in England, panic and terror seize the population. As the aliens traverse the country in huge three-legged machines, incinerating all in their path with a heat ray and spreading noxious toxic gases, the people of the Earth must come to terms with the prospect of the end of human civilization and the beginning of Martian rule.

Inspirin
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Paperback, 192 pages
Published March 12th 2002 by Modern Library (first published 1897)
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Amazingbollweevil When I read people complain that this book is .... uh, lacking or something, I can't help but shake my head in disappointment. The story is one of sur…moreWhen I read people complain that this book is .... uh, lacking or something, I can't help but shake my head in disappointment. The story is one of survival in the face of overwhelming opposition. The protagonist is totally helpless as he watches his civilization be destroyed by monstrous invaders. He's no hero trying to save the day, but an everyman just trying to get by. This story is now an archetype, having inspired countless other novels and movies and television episodes. Because you have seen these later stories, you already know how this novel will go, so it's no wonder there are no surprises. (less)
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Mackie H.G Wells is trying to make a point about British Imperialism through his book. His goal is to show people how England's colonies might feel by havin…more H.G Wells is trying to make a point about British Imperialism through his book. His goal is to show people how England's colonies might feel by having the peaceful English countryside razed and innocent people slaughtered and the peoples inability to fight back against an immense foreign power. The normality the Narrator feels with all of the violence holds a parallel to the violence used in colonies to keep the people under control, and how it became a common occurrence. (less)

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Leonard Gaya
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Paraphrasing Whitehead, I would say that the safest general characterisation of the science-fiction tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to H. G. Wells. Indeed, The War of the Worlds is probably the most influential novel of the whole science fiction genre, as well as a significant part of the horror category. I remember reading this short novel as a child and being viscerally engrossed and terrified. Rereading it now made me aware of a few more things. First, I realised how th ...more
Joey Woolfardis
Read as part of The Infinite Variety Reading Challenge, based on the BBC's Big Read Poll of 2003.

The War of the Worlds goes beyond the of-the-time popular military invasion fiction, which took away the standard protagonist/antagonist arc of single characters and popped whole countries or tribes in their place, and brings down to Earth a whole new enemy at a time when science fiction did not exist and science itself was oft thought of as fiction.

In Surrey, a professor is caught up in the invasio
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Anne
Aug 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
description

I didn't listen to the novel-novel, but I listened to a radio adaptation performed by some fan-favorite cast members of Star Trek. <--Leonard Nimoy is amazing.
It was cool as hell.

description

And hilarious.
Because it doesn't really have a Big Battle or anything that humanity has to do to overcome these invaders. They just show up, and we watch in horror as they thoroughly hand us our asses.

description

Eventually, they just...die off because (regardless of their superior intelligence & firepower) they didn't get their sh
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Matt
“No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their li ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
The War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells, Arthur C. Clarke (Introduction)

Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. — H. G. Wells (1898), The War of the Worlds.

The War of the Worlds is a science fiction novel by English author H. G. Wells, first serialized in 1897. The War of the Worlds was one of the first
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Joeji
Jun 22, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: artillerymen
I acknowledge that I am one of the few people who actually enjoyed the recent "War of the Worlds" movie. The reason for this has to do more with the original book than Tom Cruise or Steven Speilburg's tendency to wittle everything, including alien attacks, down to simple family problems. In a lot of ways, "War of the Worlds" (2006) was a close to dead-on adaptation of the original Victorian novel.

Just a few words on why you should like, or if you don't like, respect "War of the Worlds" as a mov
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Apatt


“No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.”

A beautiful opening to the book but I must say the Martians did a very poor
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Paul Bryant
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-novels-aaargh
This was not anything like the Tom Cruise movie so be warned. If you’re expecting an action story about a divorced union container crane operator with a 10 year old daughter you ain’t gonna find it here. They changed like 99% of everything around. As far as I could see there are only two things which are the same, one is that the Martians attack Earth in these COOL THREE LEGGED METAL 70 FOOT HIGH HEAT RAY KICK ASS DEATH MACHINES and two is that they die in the same way which I won’t say here bec ...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
This classic 1898 science fiction novel has teeth to it, and it’s not just the Martians. The War of the Worlds is a lot more thoughtfully written than I had remembered. In between deadly heat rays, huge tripod machines striding around the country killing everything in their path, and bloodthirsty Martians trying to take over Earth (starting with Great Britain), there's also critique of colonialism, religious hypocrisy, and even how humans treat animals. The ways in which people react in a crisis ...more
Vit Babenco
May 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The War of the Worlds belongs to the league of immortal books.
Tribal wars, civil wars, colonial wars… H.G. Wells managed to raise a phenomenon of war to the higher interplanetary level.
The air was full of sound, a deafening and confusing conflict of noises – the clangorous din of the Martians, the crash of falling houses, the thud of trees, fences, sheds flashing into flame, and the crackling and roaring of fire. Dense black smoke was leaping up to mingle with the steam from the river, and as th
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Susan Budd
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You would think that as Man grows in intelligence he would likewise grow in morality. But you would be wrong. Or at least, that is what history teaches us. About a hundred years before Harvard professor Robert Coles wrote his now famous article “The Disparity Between Intellect and Character,” H.G. Wells made much the same observation.

At the end of The War of the Worlds, the unnamed narrator returns to his house and sees the paper he had been working on before the war began. “It was a paper on th
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Bionic Jean
Was H.G. Wells schizophrenic? I'm just wondering because his novels fall into 2 distinct groups. There are the gently humorous novels such as "Kipps" or "The History of Mr Polly" - and then there are his SF novels, of which The War of the Worlds is surely the most famous.

His prescience is startling. Not only was he writing in the pre-atomic age, but it is as well to remember that this book was written over a century ago (1898) which is even before powered flight (though only just!) I now want to
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Evgeny
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi
Ladies and gentlemen, I shall read you a wire addressed to Professor Pierson from Dr. Gray of the National History Museum, New York. "9:15 P. M. eastern standard time. Seismograph registered shock of almost earthquake intensity occurring within a radius of twenty miles of Princeton. Please investigate. Signed, Lloyd Gray, Chief of Astronomical Division" . . . Professor Pierson, could this occurrence possibly have something to do with the disturbances observed on the planet Mars?
War of the Worlds
Martians are com
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Adrian
Aug 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
PLEASE SEE POSTSCRIPT

Well with GR telling me I haven’t read any books this year (doh !), I thought I’d finish my first.

In all seriousness this is a re-read because I want to go on to Stephen Baxter’s The Massacre of Mankind, which is part of one of this years numerous challenges (why do I do this to myself ?)
Anyway GR says this is my 2nd read of this classic book (hah, what does GR know), whereas in fact it is probably my 5th or maybe 6th. To me it is certainly 4.5 stars and is enjoyable for so
...more
Lisa
Jun 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Wells sort of made a bet and wanted to have it covered both ways: in which shape will Apocalypse come?

Humanity wiped out by super-humans ruling over invincible machines?

Or wiped out by a tiny bacteria?

Choose your ending! And enjoy a vintage science fiction writer while you wait ...
Bill Kerwin

In fiction, the fate of the successful innovator is seldom a happy one; the writer who invents an original plot or fresh theme may seem predictable, even shallow, to later readers, once that plot or theme—appropriated by scores of imitators—no longer shines like new. So it is with H.G. Wells and his The War of the Worlds (1897). Invading creatures from outer space became a cliché of “golden age” science fiction, and a double-cliche after the drive-in movies of the ‘50’s. H.G.’s “bug-eyed monster
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Jeff


One of my favorite movies growing up was the old War of the Worlds movie – the ‘50’s film, not the itty-bitty Tommy remake. I had to watch it each and every time it played on television. The same running dialogue would go on inside my head: “Cowardly dudes, don’t wave that white flag, they’re Martians, they’re probably color blind or something."



"Oops, too late, you’re toast.”

Or “Maybe the A-bomb will work this time. Nope, you’re toast.”



I also liked to imitate the heat ray sound when I re-enact
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Carmen
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone; Vegans
Recommended to Carmen by: Non-Crunchy Group
No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as our own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their lit ...more
donna backshall
Wow. I knew this, but I didn't KNOW this, until I re-read his 1898 novel, The War of the Worlds: H.G. Wells was eerily and impressively ahead of his time.

I'll admit, The War of the Worlds was hardly an easy read. The dispassionate and overly formal style of writing/reporting constantly dragged me back to a long ago time and place almost as foreign as Mars itself. His "speculative philosophy", as he put it, interweaving themes of colonialism and the subjugation of humankind as a whole, was evide
...more
Lena
Jun 11, 2021 rated it liked it
Wells invented cliches for a Hollywood blockbuster before Hollywood had any. He was truly a visionary: predicted all possible plot twist for the post-apocalyptic stories. Except one - in his book aliens attacked Britain not the USA.
Denisse
May 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Denisse by: My brain, tired of Young Adult Bullshit XD
Read for the 2015 Reading Challenge: #41 A book by an author you've never read before stupidly haven't read before I should say And for my 2015 Reading Resolutions: 5 classics (5/5) :’D completed!!

Excellent. Not just very interesting for all the technology and science it has, but outstanding in describing human behavior and criticizing its time. Very thrilling at parts, philosophically emotional at others and overall, well written. Highly recommended for any sci-fi fan. The ending might be
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Jan-Maat
While it may seen inhumane to all the stockbrokers and their dependants, there is some vicarious pleasure to be had in the destruction of Surrey commuter towns by the Martians. The fear, confusion and rapid break down of late Victorian life following on from the initial attack is striking.

The War of the Worlds is one of those science-fiction books that are full of contemporary fears - it is a pre World War One invasion fantasy like The Riddle of the Sands but with the German army transformed in
...more
Peter
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Absolute classic. At the end of the 19th century earth (Britain to be precise) is invaded by the Martians. They come in kind of "cylinders" and devastate the surroundings of London. The population of London flees. There is absolute chaos. Can those invaders be stopped? A compelling novel on humanity feeling too safe on their planet. We can't let our guards down. As we can see now the invaders may not come from outer space but a virus may even be deadlier than extraterrestrials. Great description ...more
Becky
Jul 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
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 s
...more
Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*
"I felt no condemnation; yet the memory, static, unprogressive, haunted me. In the silence of the night, with that sense of nearness of God that sometimes comes into the stillness and the darkness, I stood my trial, my only trial, for that moment of wrath and fear."

Hey, I finally get the addition of the rapidly growing red weed that's in one in favorite game of all time, SNES Zombies Ate my Neighbors. These martians weren't hunting cheerleaders though!



While the wording style is eloquent, beautif
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W
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
This is supposed to reflect the anxieties of Victorian England about being invaded,and even when the attack is finished,the author cautions that another invasion is possible.

There is an irony here.It was England itself which had occupied so much of the globe,and it is mankind that has managed to reach Mars.And had it encountered any Martians there,wars would have been waged on Mars,just as they always have been on earth.

It is not a pleasant book to read.It is all about disaster. Possibly the fir
...more
Mir
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably everyone knows the basic plot, so there is no need to elaborate -- Martians come, they kick humanity's collective ass. The story is narrated by an average (if well-educated) guy who happens to see the arrival and survive, and is scrambling around trying to find food without getting seen in the process. Contra the movies, he is not heroic or important to the outcome of the invasion, which I thought an intriguing authorial choice.

A couple aspects that were interesting to me:

--The narrator
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Owlseyes


A few days ago I have read this juicy article on a Portuguese magazine ("Visão"): 5th September...still missing 3290 days for a visit to Mars.

The article speaks about NASA's visit by 2030. Yet, a Dutch company* is preparing to anticipate NASA in a decade. A no-return voyage, vegetarians by force...and a water factory are some of the ideas approached.

To my knowledge, though thousands worldwide had already applied, there are 8 Portuguese people ready to embark; but only 4 of them disclosed t
...more
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
4.0 Stars
I have been known to be hit or miss with classics, but this one definitely worked for me. The alien invasion plot was described in such terrifying detail at the beginning. I found the later section a little less engaging, but the epilogue brought it back together. I highly recommend the audiobook (narrated by Simon Vance) which really brought the story to life. This is definitely one I will reread. 
Benjamin Duffy
I somewhat lazily and arbitrarily clicked this book onto my "science fiction" Goodreads shelf, but it isn't, not really. Sure, the monsters happened to come from Mars, but that isn't essential to the plot. They could just as easily have come from deep under the ground, from the bottom of the ocean, or from Mordor. All the story requires is that they be from Somewhere Else, and Mars fills that bill perfectly well.

So, leaving aside the creatures' extraterrestrial origins, War of the Worlds succeed
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Herbert George Wells was born to a working class family in Kent, England. Young Wells received a spotty education, interrupted by several illnesses and family difficulties, and became a draper's apprentice as a teenager. The headmaster of Midhurst Grammar School, where he had spent a year, arranged for him to return as an "usher," or student teacher. Wells earned a government scholarship in 1884, ...more

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“No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.” 152 likes
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