The War of the Worlds

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The War of the Worlds

by H.g. Wells

Random House Publishing Group | November 1, 1988 | Mass Market Paperbound

3.7143 out of 5 rating. 7 Reviews
H.G. Wells''s science fiction classic, the first novel to explore the possibilities of intelligent life from other planets, it still startling and vivid nearly after a century after its appearance, and a half-century after Orson Wells''s infamous 1938 radio adaptation. The daring portrayal of aliens landing on English soil, with its themes of interplanetary imperialism, technological holocaust and chaos, is central to the career of H.G. Wells, who died at the dawn of the atomic age. The survival of mankind in the face of "vast and cool and unsympathetic" scientific powers spinning out of control was a crucial theme throughout his work. Visionary, shocking and chilling, The War Of The Worlds has lost none of its impact since its first publication in 1898.

Format: Mass Market Paperbound

Dimensions: 208 Pages, 3.94 × 6.69 × 0.39 in

Published: November 1, 1988

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0553213385

ISBN - 13: 9780553213386

Found in: Classics

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– More About This Product –

The War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds

by H.g. Wells

Format: Mass Market Paperbound

Dimensions: 208 Pages, 3.94 × 6.69 × 0.39 in

Published: November 1, 1988

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0553213385

ISBN - 13: 9780553213386

Read from the Book

Book One: The Coming of the Martians Chapter 1 The Eve of the War 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 little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. 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. And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment. The planet Mars, I scarcely need remind the reader, revolves about the sun at a mean distance of
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From the Publisher

H.G. Wells''s science fiction classic, the first novel to explore the possibilities of intelligent life from other planets, it still startling and vivid nearly after a century after its appearance, and a half-century after Orson Wells''s infamous 1938 radio adaptation. The daring portrayal of aliens landing on English soil, with its themes of interplanetary imperialism, technological holocaust and chaos, is central to the career of H.G. Wells, who died at the dawn of the atomic age. The survival of mankind in the face of "vast and cool and unsympathetic" scientific powers spinning out of control was a crucial theme throughout his work. Visionary, shocking and chilling, The War Of The Worlds has lost none of its impact since its first publication in 1898.

From the Jacket

H.G. Wells''s science fiction classic, the first novel to explore the possibilities of intelligent life from other planets, it still startling and vivid nearly after a century after its appearance, and a half-century after Orson Wells''s infamous 1938 radio adaptation. The daring portrayal of aliens landing on English soil, with its themes of interplanetary imperialism, technological holocaust and chaos, is central to the career of H.G. Wells, who died at the dawn of the atomic age. The survival of mankind in the face of "vast and cool and unsympathetic" scientific powers spinning out of control was a crucial theme throughout his work. Visionary, shocking and chilling, "The War Of The Worlds has lost none of its impact since its first publication in 1898.

About the Author

Arthur C. Clarke has long been considered the greatest science fiction writer of all time. Books by Clarke-both fiction and nonfiction-have sold more than a hundred million copies worldwide. He died in 2008.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

"The creations of Mr. Wells . . . belong unreservedly to an age and degree of scientific knowledge far removed from the present, though I will not say entirely beyond the limits of the possible." -Jules Verne

Bookclub Guide

1. In 1878 the Italian astronomer Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli used the most advanced telescope of his day to map the surface of Mars. He discovered a number of dark, thin lines crisscrossing the planet and assumed that they were water channels?in Italian, canali. This was mistranslated into English as canals; as a result of this subtle linguistic error, many people in Britain and America believed these passages were man-made. It was in such an atmosphere of misunderstanding and scientific speculation that Wells published The War of the Worlds. Today, however, we know a great deal about Mars and the possibility of life there. Does our scientific knowledge of what is on Mars make the novel any less alarming? Why or why not?

2. Isaac Asimov has argued that The War of the Worlds can be read as an argument against British colonialism and the cold expansion of the empire. ?H. G. Wells must have wanted to write his book in such a way as to demonstrate the evils of [colonialism],? Asimov writes. ?He must have tried to show his own countrymen what they were doing to the world. The British had been in the forefront of the imperialistic drive, and by the end of the 1800?s, the British Empire included a quarter of the land area and the population of the world. . . . It seemed only poetic justice then that the Martian invasion in The War of the Worlds fell upon the British.? Do you agree with Asimov?s reading?

3. Wells begins the book with the chilling image of alien life watching over the earth. He describes the Martians as planning their attacks on an unsuspecting man with ?intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic.? How does this image resonate today?

4. Shortly before Wells died in 1946, he said, ?Reality has taken a leaf from my book and set itself to supersede me.? What does Wells mean by this?

5. When the Martians first land on earth, the people who encounter them initially treat the incident lightly, as if the aliens are a traveling amusement. Is this a realistic response? What do you think Wells is trying to say by this?

6. How does Wells use language and narrative style to create suspense and a sense of terror? Is the book frightening?

7. Many people consider The War of the Worlds the greatest science fiction book of all time. Do you agree? Why or why not? What other books are among the best? What defines a classic of science fiction?

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