Bucolic English tour in the midst of an alien invasion (5/5)
From May 3, 2009
Rear cover synopsis:
"At first they thought it was a falling star...
Then it landed, and THINGS began to emerge: ugly, tentacled monsters that saw men, not as slaves, but as food. In days the country was occupied. Mankind was helpless against the Martians' poison clouds, scalding steam jets, and flaming Heat Ray.
But Earth had a secret weapon--a weapon the earthlings didn't even know existed!"
Though written in
1898, the narrator doesn't give the year of the invasion, though he makes a
number references to events, statistics ,and inventions which help the reader pin a year down. The current timeframe is one hundred years after the
Lisbon earthquake, London is populated with six million citizens and the
countryside is sparsely touched my automobiles yet still has a strong
train line. From this data, we can estimate the time to around
1880-1900, which is different from many of today's sci-fi novels which
typically take place ten or more years in the future. Wells' novel must
have been hauntingly timely when it was penned.
From Woking (just
23 miles southwest of central London) to the Tillingham coast in Essex
(50 miles northeast of London), Wells takes the reader, even though as
ignorant as we may be of 19th century English country life, through a
detailed cartographic wandering across the land. From the initial
discovery of the Martian cylinder in the narrator's town, to the horse
and bicycle escapements to the adjacent villages all the way to the
eventual tours of mayhem and destruction of downtown London. The
personalized tour of the 19th century bucolic England is exotic and
charming, even in the midst of an alien invasion!
say, the English used is British English and dated, as well. Wells
seemed to favor the word tumultuous and its root word tumult, which I
don't come across very often in other novels. Reading this novel had me
fetching my dictionary from time to time to reference Wells wide
vocabulary. Sometimes his use of words is humorous to the modern reader.
One example I giggled to myself for a number of minutes at the thought
of Wells' words: "I grew very weary and irritable with the curate's
perpetual ejaculations; I tired at the sight of his selfish despair." On
a more serious note, the passages of the narration are full of
wonderful imagery, imagination and an uncanny ability to convey the
sense of despair himself and his fellow countrymen are experiencing
before, during and after the invasion.
Not only is this the first
`alien invasion novel' but it's also the finest... which hasn't been
more poetically written or enriched with detail in over 110 years.
Wells' The War of the Worlds has withstood one century already and will
continue to awe readers for the next dozens of generations.