With a name like War of the Worlds you would be entitled to expect this book to be something like a cross between Star Wars and Independence Day.

You’d be wrong.

There are indeed some genuinely scary invading Martians arriving in space-ships with a plan to take over the Earth. They have lethal heat-rays, super-poisonous black smoke and technology beyond the wildest human dreams. They survive by injecting fresh human blood directly into their bodies. Nice.

But, more than that, Wells gives us an agonising insight into the extremes of the human condition – what people do when faced with the unutterably terrifying. (Quite a few of them get roaringly drunk.) He also conjectures possible futures, including a possible future in which Martians are the master race with humans reduced to living either as a domesticated food-source* or as a wild verminous species, seeking to escape notice.

The sudden, anti-climactic ending is also – after reflection at least – a good bit more satisfying than anything Hollywood could have come up with. It’s realistic. Reassuring, even, in its assertion of a balance restored and of our world as (get this) homeostatic.

(* Reminds me of Wells’ other well-known novel, The Time Machine. Will blog that another time.)

Here’s an Amazon link.
I already had a copy, although unread until this project.

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