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Group reads > The War of the Worlds (spoilers)

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message 1: by Ivan (last edited Mar 01, 2012 01:43AM) (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
This is one of my very favorite novels. It is fast paced and exciting. I also love the time frame - 1890s in England. I guess we all know this is about an alien invasion of the earth. However, none of the films that have been adapted from this novel have ever captured the beauty of the writing...and all have been set in the future (1950s and 2000s).

If you've never read this you're in for a treat. Now, go read it and pop back here to share your thoughts.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

First read for me! I'll be back later....


message 3: by J.A. (new)

J.A. Pak Recently read A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs and it's proving to be an interesting compare-and-contrast.


message 4: by Angela (new)

Angela (bookangel2) | 26 comments Although I read it nearly 40 years ago, I can still remember enjoying War of the Worlds so much. I picked up my copy from the library yesterday, so shall be starting it soon. Shall also have to look out my War of the Worlds C.D. and listen to Richard Burton's wonderful voice:)


message 5: by Candiss (new)

Candiss (tantara) I will be reading this one, but it probably won't be til later in the month. I'm looking forward to it!


message 6: by Silver (new)

Silver I just started reading this, but I have to say that I am astounded by the brilliance and genius of Wells and his amazing foresight. I was taken aback that he was already predicating the end of the world coming in the form of climate change, what he called Secular Cooling.

Also I really enjoy his insights on human nature, I loved the way in which he compared the Martins invasion and treatment of humans to the way humans have treated other animals.


message 7: by Max (new)

Max | 26 comments I noticed the same thing Silver. At least a day after I read it I was very careful to avoid stepping on any ants. It has to do with responsibility in controlling one's power, as well as empathy and caution in dealing with those species considered inferior.


message 8: by Silver (new)

Silver Max F. wrote: "I noticed the same thing Silver. At least a day after I read it I was very careful to avoid stepping on any ants. It has to do with responsibility in controlling one's power, as well as empathy and..."

It reminds me of a quote in this movie I saw. Though it has been a while I cannot recall it exactly, but I think it was along these lines: "What would happen if another animal superior to you suddenly lost all respect for you?"


message 9: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
I'd try to look unappetizing...and useful.


message 10: by Silver (new)

Silver hahahaha


message 11: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
I am amazed as I read his works just how much he influnced almost all science-fiction that has come since. I've read a great many of his novels and short stories and can't recommend him enough.


message 12: by Max (new)

Max | 26 comments I believe they made that into a movie, they call it Planet of the Apes lol


message 13: by Silver (new)

Silver Ivan wrote: "I am amazed as I read his works just how much he influnced almost all science-fiction that has come since. I've read a great many of his novels and short stories and can't recommend him enough."

I was thinking something similar while I was reading the book. I was thinking that I was reading it at a very apt time as it seems that alien invasion movies are all the rage these days. And reading this made me think of how this was one of the first (if not the first) in that genre and how pervasive it has now become in our culture.


message 14: by Silver (new)

Silver I am quite amused by the fact that the idea that a "man" from Mars just landed onto earth in of itself does not seem to cause too much concern among the people, but rather it is what the creature ends up actually looking like that freaks them out.

So if a vaguely humanoid creature popped out of the cylinder, they would have just been like, "oh hey it's a dude from Mars that is cool"

But since this monstrous looking creature emerges than they are like, "oh that doesn't look human, run for your lives."


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

I think the heat beam was the finishing touch!

And I love Wells saying the party waved the white flag to prove that they were intelligent, too.


message 16: by Silver (new)

Silver Jeannette wrote: "I think the heat beam was the finishing touch!

And I love Wells saying the party waved the white flag to prove that they were intelligent, too."


I just got to that chapter, haven't read it yet.


message 17: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
Silver wrote: "I am quite amused by the fact that the idea that a "man" from Mars just landed onto earth in of itself does not seem to cause too much concern among the people, but rather it is what the creature e..."

No one would run from Mr. Spock...but that thing from "Alien"...run!!!!!!


message 18: by Ivan (last edited Mar 03, 2012 07:47AM) (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
Jeannette wrote: "I think the heat beam was the finishing touch!

And I love Wells saying the party waved the white flag to prove that they were intelligent, too."


Yes, one doesn't consider that in their alien culture waving a white flag may mean "Tora! Tora! Tora!"

I've noticed in reading the science-fiction works of Mr. Wells, there are few if any women in his stories.


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

He was writing man against machine, man against his baser nature, against the beast type of stories. Women cooked the food, and looked terrified, or silly; those were women's roles in Wells stories.


message 20: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
Now I do all of that...including looking terrified.


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

You're talented, Ivan! :) I guess Wells must have believed in the stereotypes of his day. Maybe he didn't count on the evolution of gender roles.... (but, I do believe you know all this, without my saying so.)


message 22: by Silver (new)

Silver I have to admit that in a way I think it is kind of refreshing to read a book that does not feel the need to include romance in any way shape or form as part of the plot lines. As most books it seems will at the very least have some form of romance as a side plot to the story. I quite enjoy his I guess you could say "masculine" writing.


message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

I was thinking that Ivan may have been remarking on the lack of any women, romance or not. Or, maybe I am projecting my ideals onto Ivan's comments. I would love to see a strong woman take on the Martians! I agree that a romance in a story like this would be a distraction, at the very least.


message 24: by Max (new)

Max | 26 comments Jeannette wrote: "I was thinking that Ivan may have been remarking on the lack of any women, romance or not. Or, maybe I am projecting my ideals onto Ivan's comments. I would love to see a strong woman take on th..."


Very true. This story lacks romance because Wells considered it an unnecessary burden. The inclusion of romance would add nothing to the idea, or the awe, or the message, but would rather emulate the majority of stories which make a point not only to include romance, but to utilize it as the center theme. By refusing, Wells makes an already original story all the more unique.


message 25: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
Yeah, just NO women. Not JUST in this, but in most of his sci-fi. I don't mind it, it's just an observation.


message 26: by Silver (new)

Silver Jeannette wrote: "I was thinking that Ivan may have been remarking on the lack of any women, romance or not. Or, maybe I am projecting my ideals onto Ivan's comments. I would love to see a strong woman take on th..."

I think part of the problem though is that generally speaking when a woman is presented within a story the reader has an automatic expectation that some attachment will form between said women and one of the predominate male characters of the story.

Also one has to consider the time period in which Wells is writing which would created certain complications in creating a female character that would be approved by his original audience. Have a single independent woman running around fighting aliens I do not think would be viewed favorable by the 19th century audience.

Even women writers of this time period who create strong, independent female characters usually always have to have their heroines properly married off by the end of the book.

When trying to become published in a very restrictive period of time it is difficult to create a balance which both defies conventions yet does not offend the reader too much.

Avoiding women altogether may have simply been a convenient way to not have to have undue distractions to the story he is trying to tell and to be able to tell the story he wants.

Also I have to say for anyone who may be familiar with the TV show The Big Bang, Wells might be a bit like Sheldon.


message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

I think he was writing for a male audience, and I agree that audiences of neither sex expected an independent female heroine to save the day.

Did you read The Awakening for the group read, Silver? I think part of what amazed me was that a woman at the end of the 19th C created this unconventional, independent-minded woman.

But back to sci-fi: I find, in my limited experience, that "classic" sci-fi tends to leave out romance, and with it, female protagonists.


message 28: by Silver (new)

Silver Jeannette wrote: "I think he was writing for a male audience, and I agree that audiences of neither sex expected an independent female heroine to save the day.

Did you read The Awakening for the group ..."



I did not read it with this group, but I have read the story. There are actually mean 19th century books that create unconventional, and independent minded female characters, but in the end they either usually have to conform enough to be well married or suffer a tragic fate.


message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

Yes, but she actually chose her own tragic fate, rather than conform. I haven't read many other novels like The Awakening. Being on goodreads has really broadened my reading selection.


message 30: by Silver (new)

Silver I just do not think Wells should be faulted too much for not including predominant or strong women characters in his books, because I do not think it would have been possible for him to do so without in some fashion or other addressing the question of marriage/romance, because such is what the audience would have expected.


message 31: by Ivan (last edited Mar 04, 2012 05:32AM) (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
I don't fault Wells at all. I think that the introduction of women or a woman, would have muddled the story; rather it would have taken the story in a direction Wells didn't want or need to go. The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Time Machine, The First Men in the Moon, The Invisible Man, When the Sleeper Wakes, and The Food of the Gods, have basically no women. The Sea Lady: A Tissue of Moonshine does, and women feature very prominently in most of his social comedies like Kipps and Tono-bungay.


message 32: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
One characteristic of Wells’ writing that I greatly admire as a reader is the immediacy of his storytelling. His narratives move at break-neck speed. He has meticulously edited his material so that anything, any detail that might be perceived as superfluous has been purged. There are no asides to encumber the reader, no contrived subplots, situations or characters to divert us. Thus, the reader feels as if he/she is hurtling towards the finish. This quality of Wells’ makes these works exhilarating for the reader. Many of his short stories possess this same quality and are well worth reading.


message 33: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
Max F. wrote: "Jeannette wrote: "I was thinking that Ivan may have been remarking on the lack of any women, romance or not. Or, maybe I am projecting my ideals onto Ivan's comments. I would love to see a stron..."

This was very well said.


message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

Ivan wrote: "One characteristic of Wells’ writing that I greatly admire as a reader is the immediacy of his storytelling. His narratives move at break-neck speed. He has meticulously edited his material so th..."

Wells does have his narrator hurtle along, most of the time in terror.

I'm curious to see where he is going in War of the Worlds, because he comes out pretty strong at the beginning with his social commentary about man's complacency and feeling of superiority, etc.


message 35: by Max (new)

Max | 26 comments Ivan wrote: "One characteristic of Wells’ writing that I greatly admire as a reader is the immediacy of his storytelling. His narratives move at break-neck speed. He has meticulously edited his material so th..."

Under this style Wells gets straight to the heart of the matter. By snipping away at the superfluous, if any rudimentary romantic plot had been dreamed up by Wells it most certainly would have been cut. Romance is lovely in some stories, but not all.


message 36: by Silver (new)

Silver I really enjoyed the discussion about how the aliens should not have been able to move because of the different forces of gravitational pull on Earth compared to Mars, and the mentions of how the different atmosphere should affect the aliens, because when you think about it modern day alien movies never seem to address this fact. I never really considered it before, but it is always just a given in modern moves of this genre that the aliens somehow just can automatically adapt upon earth even thought Earth's properties are completely different. And of course when men go into space they need special equipment to be able to function and survive but miraculously aliens never have to deal with these sorts of complications.


message 37: by [deleted user] (new)

I am halfway through, and for all their superior technology, the Martians are really violent. It's been non-stop killing, first with the heat beams, and now with the black fog.


message 38: by Silver (new)

Silver Jeannette wrote: "I am halfway through, and for all their superior technology, the Martians are really violent. It's been non-stop killing, first with the heat beams, and now with the black fog."

I recall at the beginning it said that the Martians were fleeing Mars because they could no longer live there because of a change in the climate so they were coming to earth to make earth their new home.

Isn't that reflective of human nature? If one group of humans wants to move somewhere that is already inhabited by someone/something else, to wipe out whatever was living there before you. It is not so much different than the colonization of the New World and what Europeans did with their superior technology to the natives who were living there.


message 39: by [deleted user] (new)

I guess I always felt that the Europeans asked questions before they fired. In some cases, the Europeans even co-existed peacefully with the natives.

I see the analogy, but I just think Wells is being a bit too heavy-handed. The Martians just started blasting people, without making any effort to communicate.


message 40: by Silver (new)

Silver Jeannette wrote: "I guess I always felt that the Europeans asked questions before they fired. In some cases, the Europeans even co-existed peacefully with the natives.

I do not want to get into an off-topic debate so all I will say is that I never felt that optimistic about human kind. History is filled with humans committing senseless violence both against other humans who are viewed as being different from them or "alien" or of being in there way of something they want from themselves. Not to speak of the way humans treat other living creatures and the environment.


message 41: by Craig (new)

Craig | 30 comments I am glad Wells did not try to shoehorn romance into the plot. One of the things that bothered me about Around the World in Eighty Days was the Aouda character. She was rescued, (that she had to be rescued should have be my first warning) in a fantastic manner from fantastic circumstances and barely said a word through the rest of the book. Later on she fought against the Indians but really she was just there for the engagement at the end. Perhaps to help Phileas appear more humane after all.
I was sure in The Invisible Man that Wells would throw in some tomfoolery of Griffin peeping on a girl changing or the like but he thankfully stuck to the scientific and realistic problems of being invisible. Looking forward to his take on an alien invasion.


message 42: by [deleted user] (new)

Silver wrote: "Jeannette wrote: "I guess I always felt that the Europeans asked questions before they fired. In some cases, the Europeans even co-existed peacefully with the natives.

I do not want to get into..."


No problem. I agree with you, except that I may be slightly more optimistic about humankind. Wells expands upon his theme as the crowd of humanity resorts to violence in their panic to escape.

I just feel, personally, that I'm ready for Wells to move on and advance the plot a bit. At nearly 60% in, it's still all death and destruction. I got the message, and now I'm ready for more.


message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

Craig wrote: "I am glad Wells did not try to shoehorn romance into the plot. One of the things that bothered me about Around the World in Eighty Days was the Aouda character. She was rescued, (that she had to be..."

The first women to actually play a role in the story have appeared, and the one lady is pretty plucky! Not a damsel in distress, and there's really no time for romance.


message 44: by Silver (new)

Silver Craig wrote: "I was sure in The Invisible Man that Wells would throw in some tomfoolery of Griffin peeping on a girl changing or the like but he thankfully stuck to the scientific and realistic problems of being invisible. Looking forward to his take on an alien invasion. ..."

One the things which I find quite interesting in reading this story is comparing the reactions of the characters within the book to what is seen in modern day alien movies. I think the cultural comparisons are interesting.


message 45: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
Jeannette wrote: "Silver wrote: "Jeannette wrote: "I guess I always felt that the Europeans asked questions before they fired. In some cases, the Europeans even co-existed peacefully with the natives.

I do not wan..."


I want to be optimistic...but it's hard. In the USA I see a growing population of blindly stupid people voting for bigoted, anti-science, anti-education, anti-environment, pro-big business, pro-deregulation religious fascists hell-bent on using all the world’s resources in the next twenty minutes…and it scares me. They claim America is #1 in healthcare (we’re 37th; France is #1) and #1 in education (we’re 14th, only average) and #1 in environmental protections (we’re in 39th place, behind Ecuador and Albania). If you try to tell these folks where we rank they call you anti-American and tell you to move to one of those countries “if you love them so much!” Insanity.

Anyway, back to Wells. Jeannette....it does getter better, but not right away. Prepare yourself for more death and destruction.


message 46: by [deleted user] (new)

I try to be optimistic, too, Ivan, it only works for me on a smaller scale. The rest of it drives me to near-despair sometimes. But, I don't think we get to hear enough about people doing good, helping others. That's human nature, too.

I'll plow on with the story. My husband can't believe I'm not enjoying it as much as he did. The side-story with the brother and the gun-toting woman has been interesting! :)


message 47: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
I forgot about that woman.


message 48: by Max (new)

Max | 26 comments Silver wrote: "I really enjoyed the discussion about how the aliens should not have been able to move because of the different forces of gravitational pull on Earth compared to Mars, and the mentions of how the d..."

It's true that "science-fiction" movies tend to leave out the science part. But that's probably because movie-goers are a lot less interested in why something occurs, and more interested in the senseless, gory violence which it inflicts. Also, with a novel, the author has much more room to pen an explanation, whereas a film maker is limited to that 1 and a half to 2 and a half hour time span before the audience member grows bored or restless. I also thought it was an interesting explanation, and that it garnished a rather ridiculous (but entertaining) plot with a firmer sense of reality.


message 49: by [deleted user] (new)

I finished. I found the book hard to get through because I felt Wells dragged it out a bit too long in the middle. When we got back to our narrator and the artillery man, it picked up a bit.

I was surprised by the very end, but a little disappointed, too.


message 50: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
I had a different experience.

In what way was the ending disappointing?


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