Thursday, August 12, 2010

The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells - Book Review #65

Thursday, August 12, 2010
The War of the Worlds
by H. G. Wells

“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.” Thus begins one of the most terrifying and morally prescient science fiction novels ever penned. Beginning with a series of strange flashes in the distant night sky, the Martian attack initially causes little concern on Earth. Then the destruction erupts—ten massive aliens roam England and destroy with heat rays everything in their path. Very soon mankind finds itself on the brink of extinction.

It’s been a long time since I’m so desperately, so unstoppable, so … as there were no tomorrow… was falling asleep on a book during a day when I wasn’t even tired. It’s been a long time… Last time I remember it happening to me, when I was reading… The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. So I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that it happened this time, when I was reading The War of the Worlds.

With all my respect to H. G. Wells, unfortunately he wasn’t a great fiction writer. His ideas are priceless, but the execution of these ideas is what putting me to sleep. It seems to me H. G. Wells was a great writer of sociopolitical essays, commentator, columnist, textbook writer, you name it. However, the technique of fictional writes definitely wasn’t his. Even from his own words: “I had rather be called a journalist than an artist,” H. G. Wells wrote in his letter to Henry James on July 8, 1915. And in my opinion, he was much more a journalist than an artist. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that to be a journalist is worse than to be an artist. I just really don’t like fiction books that written with dry, reporting language of journalism. And this is, in my opinion, precisely, what H. G. Wells does in The War of the Worlds.

For some time lately I’ve been wondering why I wasn’t able to read H. G. Wells’ books when I was a child (Even now I was able to finish his books only on pure determination). I think I finally came to at least some conclusion, still not sure if this one is correct or not. The main reason, as I see it, that H. G. Wells wasn’t really writing a sci-fi, he was writing a sociopolitical allegory. It seems like the invasion itself or Martians wasn’t important to H. G. Wells. He wasn’t looking at it from adventurous, survival, victorious and/or triumphant point of view. He was looking at it, trying to study social reactions, developments and interactions. Don’t get me wrong, I think that questions if and how society and humanity can survive one or another catastrophe is important and interesting to study. It just when I was a child, I was looking for something light and adventurous, and you definitely won’t find it in H. G. Wells works.

The War of the Worlds is undeniably one of the books that everyone should read at one or another point of his/her life. It raises a lot of questions that still dated and I don’t think will lose its importance and weight anytime soon, if ever. It also gives food for thought. So if you haven’t read H. G. Wells, pick a time, prepare yourself to think rather than be entertained. Do the effort, crack open the book’s spine and read it. Read it for yourself, read it for humanity and read it for H. G. Wells, because even though he wasn’t the greatest fiction writer, he was a true genius.


Post a Comment