Today we are overly familiar with science fiction about alien invasion. Every time I turn around, there is another movie about creatures from outer space. Most often, they have some kind of man-like quality, in varying degrees of monstrosity and technical power.
But back at the turn of the century, hardly anyone had heard or consider a crisis of that magnitude. Could you imagine the look on peoples’ faces when they turned the pages of The War of the Worlds for the first time? I imagine it was pure horror.
I tried to put myself in their shoes as I read HG Wells’ novel. To a modern reader, it isn’t anything special–but for someone from the late 1800’s, I can totally see why this book held so much of an appeal. It was something different, exciting. Slimy, mysterious creatures with unknown technology with the power to wipe out an entire city! How incredible!
At one point, the narrator says:
“Never before in the history of warfare had destruction been so indiscriminate and so universal.”
If he only knew that a few decades in the future, technology would catch up to those fictional creatures and do just that. The whole time I read the book, I kept thinking it sounded like commentary on WWI & II–HG Wells was so far ahead of his time.
I do think the ending was a bit clumsy, even though it actually makes quite a bit of sense. I completely missed what happened at first, and had to go back and find how the Martians had died. It was too simple! I was surprised, though, at how much I liked the book. It read quickly, and was interesting. Mark one point for HG Wells!