Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The War of the Worlds

"No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences great than man's," begins H. G. Wells' classic, The War of the Worlds. Since the book first came into my hands in Junior High, it has been the bane of my existence. I could not - or that would not - complete the book due to the manner in which it was written. Classic literature always had - and still has - that effect on me. The dull prose and lengthy narrative that seems to be ongoing. Shame on me, I'm an English major.

But after all these years of only reading that first sentence and sighing exasperatingly, I picked up a copy - where my original went to is still unknown to me - and I shall add, a cheap copy at that. It's one of the many reasons why I love Dover Thrift Editions (book only cost me a buck).

After all these years of attempting, I'm finally man enough to read the entire book - consisting of 145 pages, but was read like it contained 1145. And while it's not my cup of tea, it's one of best sci-fi novels I've read all year (considering the fact that the last sci-fi novel I read was 3001: The Final Odyssey).

The novel's split into two books: The Coming of the Martians & The Earth under the Martians. The first book accounts the invasion seen through the eyes of a man who was there when it was underway. He saw when the Martians fired their cylinders from their red planet and was there to witness as it opened after smashing into the earth. He saw the Heat Ray kill his friends and neighbors and then the entire country side of London. He also jumps into the story of his brother and what he saw in London during the final days of the attack. The second book returns to our narrator's story and the days during and after the invasion.

It isn't the greatest read of sci-fi (oh how we have accomplished so much since the days of Wells), but it is a noteworthy read - recommended highly if you're a sci-fi geek. And its universal appeal has not waned nor do I feel will it ever.

It isn't far fetched to see that the Martians can still symbolize the grotesque nature of human warfare, or the fact that we, with our "primitive" arms and military formations, are no match for a more advanced society. Even after all these years, reading the book as an analogy of any invasion of a Free-World invading a third-world country is still relevant. It's possibly the only reason why I continued reading the book in the first place.

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