Review: “The War of the Worlds” by H. G. Wells

Neither thumbs up nor thumbs down for The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. Science fiction.

I can imagine how this would have made an excellent and terrifying radio show. As a book, it’s pretty tedious. Not that it doesn’t have some moments, and I do generally enjoy Wells’s writing, but a lot of this book collapses down to “masses of people rushing to and fro across the countryside, with every town and village itemized.” (Do the inhabitants of Chipping Barnet get a special thrill when they are stomped on by aliens?) I’m not sure I would have stuck with it except that (a) the edition I was reading (NYRB) had marvelous chapter-heading illustrations by Edward Gorey and (b) the introduction I read in a different edition (Barnes & Noble Classics) reflected a fascinating, cringeworthy light on Wells’s technocrat agenda, and I was curious to see how that played out in the book. If you feel the need to read this, I highly suggest that edition for Alfred Mac Adam’s introduction. Urk.

So some respectable dodo in the Mauritius might have lorded in in his nest, and discussed the arrival of that shipful of pitiful sailors in want of animal food. “We will peck them to death tomorrow, my dear.”

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