War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells is a fiction story written about war and mankind’s coming of age. It is also a philosophical novel with many deep meanings underlying the shallow looking one-hundred-eighty-eight page book.
The subject of this novel is Science Fiction and there are not many that can even compete with Wells in terms of how superior his word descriptions are. He simply does wonders with the imagination of the reader.
Obviously the whole book is about the struggle mankind faces, but it is not always with aliens, they are actually more of a good way to represent what Wells really believed. He believed man is dominant, yet should remember how big the universe is and that the possibility of life far more intelligent than ours is very great.
The narrator, who is also the main character tells War of the Worlds in first person. He describes everything from the man’s denial, to the invasion, the battles, and the aftermath. In the beginning he discusses the possibility of other life forms existing. When the aliens invade they do not communicate, just organize and destroy all resistance and population centers. The author journeys along all of England fleeing the invaders and always being updated from various people about the news. The climax comes when he walks into a town to find all the aliens dead from bacteria, and the denouement is when he finds his wife.
The movie “Independence Day” is the best way to describe this story to someone who has never read the book before. The two are strikingly similar. In both the aliens invade without warning and destroy everything with their superior technology. People know about the aliens before they arrive ahead of time in each story, but do nothing because of denial and public hysteria. The study and autopsy of aliens are described in the two. There are differences though. There are no heroes in the book, but in the movie there are. Our technology is useless in the book and in the movie it wins it for us. In a sense the endings are the same because a computer virus is what causes the aliens’ shields to go down in the movie and biological viruses kill the aliens in the book. Still when I think about it, “Independence Day” is the best way to modernize the story.
Pre World War One England is the setting for the story. It fits nicely, for if the humans were more advanced; the alien technology would not have smashed them, and actually might have been smashed by technology from that of even World War Two days. In this case the setting is perfect on account of the humans having a small sense of hope in their machinery, but not enough technology to really compete.
Characters are not a big part of this book. The main one, who never reveals his name, is the only one who in fact does not always go with the craziness of the public. He does have his moments of running away screaming and hiding, but he learns more about himself, mankind, and the aliens than anyone else in the book. He has loved ones in England and hates the aliens for what they do to his home, yet he understands what the aliens are trying to do. First person is a good way to write this kind of book because the reader knows exactly what a regular Joe would be thinking at a time like this. Another reason Wells is such a great author.
Other characters are the aliens, who seem to be ugly heads that talk with their minds. The physical characteristics they possess are far different from humans and they never communicate with the humans.
The last character worthy of note is the artillery man the main character meets towards the end of the book. The two seem to agree on the way things will work out, and both would rather live than die fighting. They play many games together, eat and talk and even spend the night out in the English countryside together.
Without this man, the book does not exist and there is no story. If the book were a laboratory he would be the scientist that keeps everything going.
My favorite part of the book is the beginning when some of the town’s people decide to get brave and wave a flag at the aliens. How dumb can you be? Everyone knows what is going to happen to him or her before it even happens! It shows the predictability of the humans and the writer.
Herbert George Wells was a writer at heart and at an early age would read books in the library of a house that his mother would housekeep for. When his father’s business failed he was basically sold (apprenticed) to another part of England. This causes him to create his first work known as KIPPS. The character goes through what he went through and he has very pessimistic views on the upper class society. His next opportunity to write came to him as a teacher. He had many lovers and affairs throughout his life that must have given rise to all his hostile points in his books.
As an author, I have much respect for him. As a person, I don’t think we would get along too well together. His outlook on life is too narrow for me. I loved his book and how short and strident the sentences were. He views are just too sour for me. The whole time he bad mouths humans and makes a mockery out of our race. I know we do stupid things, but we have created so much and have so much to live for I find it hard to agree with him on many things. If I were to talk to him, I would not focus on philosophy so as not to argue with him. It would be out of respect for him as an author and his book. He does have a few bright spot; however, the dark ones far exceed the bright ones.
War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells is written to teach man of his arrogance and also how bad arrogance can be. Although the fact of where we came from is still disputed to this day, and will be for a while, one thing is clear. Humans are the dominant species on this planet. The only competition we have is from ourselves.
The author is trying to tell the reader that the vision of man should not be so small as to think we are superior beings. We only have ourselves to compare to. In the beginning the narrator, who is also the main character (though we never know his name), tells the reader how when the aliens landed and put up their little satellite, the humans tried to respond intelligently. They went about this very unintelligently however and ended up getting roasted for it. If I were the aliens I would be laughing my ass off at the stupid humans. Waving a flag at a thirty-yard distance is seen as an invasion of territory and a possible threat…what were the humans thinking?
Another arrogant comment that happened was right before the humans get roasted, one of the narrator’s neighbors says, “What Ugly Brutes!” While he may have been right, look where it got him. Besides, the aliens must have thought the same thing about us. We were primitive in both our society and our technology. We were unorganized and talked using audible sounds.
The amazing thing was that the aliens functioned as one, and always were coordinated and organized. When the main character described what the beings looked like, the reader would assuredly be disgusted like the main character was. Yet the main character backed the author’s point of human arrogance very well when he said that these features such as a lack of a digestive system were advantages. Because of this the aliens never died of old age or grew tired. They were able to be productive twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Their bodies we for perfect for their purpose: destroying humans.
Wells makes a superb point when he lets the reader know just how close the threat came from. Earth’s nearest planet! All this time we were going about thinking how great we were and that we were the only ones around and then boom! The aliens swoop out of nowhere and destroy everything with their pinky fingers! Wells was probably trying to teach humility amongst other things to the reader as just seen here. This problem was right under our noses in terms of how close we were and how easy it was for the aliens to invade. Sure, a few people observed lights and things of that sort coming from the areas around Mars, but these were labeled meteors or space rocks. No way could another intelligent form of life, much less one superior to humans, be responsible for this. So while people knew about this, they did nothing. And as the phenomenon grew closer to Earth, more people found out about it, but no one ever thought of extra terrestrials invading.
The last important point Wells makes is that humans were stupid in the way that they acted. There was no strategy to anything, because…well we didn’t really know what to do. The only strategy that the British had ever needed at this time was the one that the aliens were using. The far superior technology, armor, weaponry and location were what advantages the English always had in the past, so they knew no other way. Of course the artillery bombardments, tanks and automatic weaponry had crushed all before, why not now? Still, after all the failed attempts and lives lost in vain, the humans fought on. There were even suicide missions, which brings about the only admirable quality of us in the book. Our drive to live. Throughout the story soldiers talk of how they would rather die fighting than be enslaved to a master race of walking octopuses. That trait is very human indeed, yet to some it seems crazy.
Maybe it is, but not to Wells. He wrote of the stupidity and courage of men. He did a great job of doing both. This book is really a classic because so many people know about it and still read it today, and it is over a hundred years old! It reminds me of how the U.S is today. Sure we are the greatest nation on the planet, however we still need to be reminded that we do not control everyone. We should be more humble and that is how the author felt as well. All the time I see on the news how people rebel and complain about stuff. When it comes down to it they don’t do jack! They just want to bitch about how the system cheats them. There were characters in the book like this in the novel too.
The most significant thing to me in the whole book, and I’m sure it is to most readers too, is the fact that germs killed the aliens. Not some secret weapon, or a hero, but the every day cold. This really humbles man. In the end there is hope. The hope that man finally understands that he is not so great and how lucky he can be. Hope that we will learn from our mistakes and take them to heart so that if this happens again, we will be ready. So the one question remains, and I leave it up to you…are we Homo-Superior?