The War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds

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by H. G. Wells

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In The War of the Worlds (1898) H. G. Wells invented the myth of invasion from outer space. Martians land near London, conquering all before them, and ruin the metropolis; the fate of civilization and even of the human race remains in doubt until the very last.

The War of the Worlds is disturbingly realistic both because of its setting -- Wells

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In The War of the Worlds (1898) H. G. Wells invented the myth of invasion from outer space. Martians land near London, conquering all before them, and ruin the metropolis; the fate of civilization and even of the human race remains in doubt until the very last.

The War of the Worlds is disturbingly realistic both because of its setting -- Wells bicycled the route the Martians take on landing -- and because of its characters: the superstitious curate, boastful artilleryman, and enterprising medical student are believable if not sympathetic figures, as well as signifying types of fin-de-siecle change and vision. The novel exemplifies most dramatically the scientific scepticism and vivid narrative imagination which make Wells the pre-eminent founder of modern science fiction.

Editorial Reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
The War of the Worlds, H. G. Wells's 1898 classic -- the first and still the definitive alien invasion story -- has been described by editor extraordinaire James Gunn as "not simply a novel but the beginning of a genre."

What is at first believed to be falling stars or harmless meteorites turns out to be cylindrical Martian ships filled with nightmarish, tentacled invaders and their robotic war machines. When curious Englanders come to inspect the massive containers imbedded in the still-smoking countryside, metallic appendages emerge from the pits to kill every living thing in their path with strange heat rays. Then as the surrounding townships slowly devolve into chaos, the Martians begin constructing giant tripod war machines to track down and kill -- or capture -- as many of the human "inferior animals" as possible. The nameless narrator, trapped in a house almost completely crushed by the impact of a starship, watches in horror as the seemingly unstoppable Martians build their mechanical armies, kill hundreds with poisonous gas -- and begin snacking on captured humans!

Wells has been called the father of modern science fiction for good reason. Landmark works like The Time Machine, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds are just as compelling and wildly entertaining today as they were more than a century ago. Fans and historians of the science fiction genre who have yet to read Wells's classic tale of Martian invasion should definitely add this title to their reading lists. Paul Goat Allen

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Read an Excerpt

The War of the Worlds

By H. G. Wells Franklin Watts

Copyright © 2006 H. G. Wells
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780531169636

Chapter One

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 greatdisillusionment.

The planet Mars, I scarcely need remind the reader, revolves about the sun at a mean distance of 140,000,000 miles, and the light and heat it receives from the sun is barely half of that received by this world. It must be, if the nebular hypothesis has any truth, older than our world; and long before this earth ceased to be molten, life upon its surface must have begun its course. The fact that it is scarcely one seventh of the volume of the earth must have accelerated its cooling to the temperature at which life could begin. It has air and water and all that is necessary for the support of animated existence.

Yet so vain is man and so blinded by his vanity, that no writer, up to the very end of the nineteenth century, expressed any idea that intelligent life might have developed there far, or indeed at all, beyond its earthly level. Nor was it generally understood that since Mars is older than our earth, with scarcely a quarter of the superficial area and remoter from the sun, it necessarily follows that it is not only more distant from life's beginning but nearer its end.

The secular cooling that must someday overtake our planet has already gone far indeed with our neighbor. Its physical condition is still largely a mystery, but we know now that even in its equatorial region the midday temperature barely approaches that of our coldest winter. Its air is much more attenuated than ours, its oceans have shrunk until they cover but a third of its surface, and as its slow seasons change huge snowcaps gather and melt about either pole and periodically inundate its temperate zones. That last stage of exhaustion, which to us is still incredibly remote, has become a present-day problem for the inhabitants of Mars. The immediate pressure of necessity has brightened their intellects, enlarged their powers, and hardened their hearts. And looking across space with instruments and intelligences such as we have scarcely dreamed of, they see, at its nearest distance only 35,000,000 of miles sunward of them, a morning star of hope, our own warmer planet, green with vegetation and gray with water, with a cloudy atmosphere eloquent of fertility, with glimpses through its drifting cloud wisps of broad stretches of populous country and narrow, navy-crowded seas.

And we men, the creatures who inhabit this earth, must be to them at least as alien and lowly as are the monkeys and lemurs to us. The intellectual side of man already admits that life is an incessant struggle for existence, and it would seem that this too is the belief of the minds upon Mars. Their world is far gone in its cooling and this world is still crowded with life, but crowded only with what they regard as inferior animals. To carry warfare sunward is, indeed, their only escape from the destruction that generation after generation creeps upon them.

And before we judge of them too harshly we must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as the vanished bison and the dodo, but upon its inferior races. The Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space of fifty years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit?

The Martians seem to have calculated their descent with amazing subtlety -- their mathematical learning is evidently far in excess of ours -- and to have carried out their preparations with a well-nigh perfect unanimity. Had our instruments permitted it, we might have seen the gathering trouble far back in the nineteenth century. Men like Schiaparelli watched the red planet -- it is odd, by-the-bye, that for countless centuries Mars has been the star of war -- but failed to interpret the fluctuating appearances of the markings they mapped so well. All that time the Martians must have been getting ready.

During the opposition of 1894 a great light was seen on the illuminated part of the disk, first at the Lick Observatory, then by Perrotin of Nice, and then by other observers. English readers heard of it first in the issue of Nature dated August 2. I am inclined to think that this blaze may have been the casting of the huge gun, in the vast pit sunk into their planet, from which their shots were fired at us. Peculiar markings, as yet unexplained, were seen near the site of that outbreak during the next two oppositions.


Excerpted from The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells Copyright © 2006 by H. G. Wells. Excerpted by permission.
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The War Of The Worlds (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 674 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a work of art. The descriptions of the Martians and the battle for survival of the human created by H.G. Wells is exciting and worth reading. The narrator's journey to reeunite with his wife in the mist of the Martians arrival on Earth is extremely interesting to read. Also, the Martians themselves are new and different than anything that most have heard, or read, of before. The only downside of this wonderful novel is the author of the endnotes. He gives away the ending of the book in the first few endnotes, and I would've rather found out for myself the ending at the end of the book. Other than that, it is a must-read for any sci-fi fan.
ryancoward11 More than 1 year ago
i loved this book! it was one of the best books i have ever read in my entire life. its vocabulary was astounding it used big long words i have never heard of before it was a challenge but i love challenges. the descriptive sentences was amazing they painted a mental image in your head.this book was very upbeat it kept you on your toes the whole time. the one bad thing about this book was that it was sometimes to descriptive which made it annoying and boring. i would deffinatley reccomend this book for any sci-fi lovers. or anyone who is in for a good thrill. it was a very thrilling book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was fantastic! It really engaged me and was suspenseful. It takes place in England, where an alien invasion from Mars begins. It is seen through the eyes of a man who is escaping from the invasion's spread. I liked this book a lot and highly recommend it to anyone who likes science fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so amazing! I think everybody should read this at least once in their lifetime!
7th_Trump More than 1 year ago
War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells is a classic. Any book that has been interpreted in different mediums throughout the decades should be read. Being familiar with the story it was intriguing to see what elements of the book have never been dramatized in any of the other medium versions (i.e. the black smoke). It's also interesting to see what elements remain. There were some parts of Speilberg's movie that I didn't understand that were clarified in the book. So from that standpoint it was enjoyable. The problems I had with the book is the geopgraphy and the words. I've never been much of a geography student, but it's good to knwo the English towns and hamlets since our hero travels far and wide to find his wife after the Martians attack. There are so many names thrown out that it was hard for me to follow. Likewise there were lots of words I had to take time to look up. I learned soem new words (some specific to the English culture) but the flipside is that many times the flow of the book was interupted with these new words. No matter I think this is required reading especially if you are a sci-fi fan. Even today the story has relevance and the science in the science fiction isn't dated. Even if you have an idea of the story this is one quick read that you shouldn't ignore.
fried-chicken More than 1 year ago
The classical novel by H. G Wells written in 1898 War of the Worlds is more then just a science fiction story. Besides being a highly creative novel about enormous machines that come from an outside planet to earth, it is an allegory of England's colonization that was taking place at the time. During the 20th century the United Kingdom was spreading widely throughout Europe, Asia, and even Africa, threatening the entire world. The novel War of the Worlds is set in England with the purpose of making the British people feel and imagine how their ravishing island would look if other countries joined forces and did what they were doing to other. The novel is written from the unnamed main characters point of view. This thrilling story begins on what seemed to be an ordinary day for the scientific article writer. He was on his way to meet Ogilvy, a well known astronomer who had invited him to an observatory in Ottershaw, there he witness an explosion in Mars. Ironically, not long after what was believed to be a meteor, landed very near to were he lived. The protagonist was one of the first to find out that this huge 'meteor' was actually an artificial cylinder send from Mars. While enduring the Martians' violence towards Southern English counties, he struggles to meet again with his wife. Wells created his own style of Martian space invaders, ones that had an advanced intelligence power which gave them the ability to create powerful weapons like heat ray guns, tripods and even flying machines which in 1898, when this classical novel was first written, were beyond human technology. Once the first attacks had passed, he was fortuitously reunited with his wife. They both traveled to Leatherhead seeking for safety, their plan didn't last for long however when they discovered that three more cylinders have been send. As they eye-witness the stunning power of this massive machine they become astonished. There cities had been destroyed, millions of people had dead, and their military forces were of no noticeable use. This doesn't stop them however and through spine-chilling adventure they fought for survival. This is a truly fascinating novel I would recommend to anyone interested in sub natural sciences. Even though this novel was written in the last century it still retains some of the wildest ideas ever. The book is filled with edgy and stimulated character beyond the remarkable.
Maryjberry More than 1 year ago
The descriptions depicted in H.G Wells War of the Worlds are phenominal, and frightening for its time, very far sighted and rich imagination!
Nik B. More than 1 year ago
This is a true sci-fi classic. I read this in English class, and thoroughly loved it. It is about how aliens come to Earth because their planet of Mars is dying, and how the narrator experiences it, being a scientist himself. The main theme is that humanity considers itself the most intellectual creatures in the universe, but it may not be. There is symbolism throughout the book, but it is not nessessary to understand the symbols to enjoy the novel. Read carefully, though, because some parts can become rather confusing if you merely skim over it. It served as an inspiration to many future novels, plays, and movies. There is the originial radio broadcast (which served a lot of panic, you can look it up on wiki), a play, and two movies (one of which has Tom Cruise in it =>)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
War of the Worlds by H.G Wells is a science novel. It was a good novel to me because there was a good amount of action. War of the Worlds was placed on the late 1700s and the late 1800s. this novels major conflict is John Ogilvy saw a ray of light from mars and thinks that the Martians are shooting at them or there is a volcano erupting. But a few days later there was a large metal object lands outside of his town and finds out that it was a war machine. The day started of as a normal day in Britain until a large metal object crashed out side of John's town. The town's people went outside to see the object The ground started to shake and a machine rose up out of the ground, and started to shoot strange rays. After a month of running from the machines John hears of an evacuation plan. The author creates a vivid picture in your head just as if you're there, because he uses first person point of view. The story is told from John's view. I would recommend this book if you like science fiction because there are aliens or horror because there are suspenseful moments.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Arguet to War: ((I'm posting from the computer)) You have a new Wattpad follower!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The War of the Worlds is great! I really enjoyed reading this book, and I would definitely recommend it to a friend. If you want to read this book, I highly recommend getting the Barnes & Noble Classics Series edition because it has super helpful footnotes, endnotes, introductions, comments & questions, and tons of other super fun/helpful things! The footnotes are especially helpful, especially for weird 19th century terms like opposition which really means when the Sun, Earth, and Mars all align. So, overall, I definitely recommend reading this book, and, if you are going to read it, make sure you get the Barnes & Noble Classics Series version!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
well written, love the characters (not too involved) and i love the story. no time wasted here. and concerning the actual copy of the book, after a few pages you get used to the differences. its obviously the title and page number jumbled in with the story, but for free its truly look-overable :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story was great. The text is messed up from the transcription process (misspellings, characters in place of letters, and other distracting mistakes), which makes it a little difficult to read at times.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite stories
ryancoward11RC More than 1 year ago
i loved this book! it was one of the best books i have ever read in my entire life. its vocabulary was astounding it used big long words i have never heard of before it was a challenge but i love challenges. the descriptive sentences was amazing they painted a mental image in your head.this book was very upbeat it kept you on your toes the whole time. the one bad thing about this book was that it was sometimes to descriptive which made it annoying and boring. i would deffinatley reccomend this book for any sci-fi lovers. or anyone who is in for a good thrill. it was a very thrilling book.
Holden15 More than 1 year ago
This was as good or even better than the first book because of the fact that all of the martiand were not dead and they have to escape from the newest kind of machine that they run into later on in the book. They do make it to London finally and they see that all of London looks like it had been nuked twice. It turns out that London got the worst of it. That was one of the things that really surprised me about the book. I thought that London was going to be one of the few places that was not touched by the martians but what happened was the exact opposite of what i thought. But, who cares, its just a book. But its a darn good one and i strongly recommend this book to anyone that likes this genre.
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Anonymous 4 months ago
Is this the right place?...))
Anonymous 9 months ago
He snores.
Anonymous 11 months ago
He padded in and waved his tail at Neko and Fern, "Hello you two." He meowed as he narrowed his eyes at them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"No amount of money will persuade me to have se<_>x with you. I am not, nor will I ever be, a ho<_>mos<_>ex<_>ual."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Is there a cure?"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago