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Publisher's Summary

First published by H. G. Wells in 1898, The War of the Worlds is the granddaddy of all alien invasion stories. The novel begins ominously, as the lone voice of a narrator intones, "No one would have believed in the last years of the 19th century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's." Things then progress from a series of seemingly mundane reports about odd atmospheric disturbances taking place on Mars to the arrival of Martians just outside of London. At first, the Martians seem laughable, hardly able to move in Earth's comparatively heavy gravity, even enough to raise themselves out of the pit created when their spaceship landed. But soon the Martians reveal their true nature as death machines 100 feet tall rise up from the pit and begin laying waste to the surrounding land. Wells quickly moves the story from the countryside to the evacuation of London itself and the loss of all hope as England's military suffers defeat after defeat.
With horror, the narrator describes how the Martians suck the blood from living humans for sustenance and how it's clear that man is not being conquered so much as corralled.
Public Domain (P)2009 Tantor
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Janice on 03-30-14


Since scifi is not my preferred genre, I’m rarely tempted to use a valuable credit for space invasions. But the Daily Deal encouraged my curiosity about this classic and I was very well rewarded.

I haven’t seen any of the movie adaptations, but I suspect that any updating of the story to modern times would take away one of the things that made this story so chilling to me, and that was the slow dawning of realization that came over the humans as they faced the unimaginable. Such an invasion today would be instantly blasted from phone to phone around the world in seconds. The tension builds as the understanding of the danger occurs to the residents of the English countryside – blooming from amused interest to disbelief, blustery bravado and finally outright panic as the impersonal ruthlessness of the tripod warriors destroys all hope of escape. The description of man wiping out ants was chillingly apt.

Well’s acute understanding of human nature comes through as he vividly describes the heroics and villainy of panicked mobs, the reliance on or loss of faith, and the strength of will and resourcefulness to survive. And for anyone who has tried to actually wipe out ants – it’s never been done. This human insight makes the story timeless though written well over a century ago. Vance’s reading made it all the more personal and wonderful.

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14 of 15 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Jefferson on 05-25-11

Curate Cabin Fever, or Watch out for that Tripod!

What an imaginative, objective, gripping, bracing, and humbling novel H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds is! The story is well-known: Martians land on earth, in Woking in Southern England, and quickly set about destroying the British infrastructure and military defenses and crisping via heat ray the humans they don't capture to use as handy blood sources, all as detachedly and efficiently as humans would deal with a colony of ants or wasps. The first person narrator relates all this in a compellingly honest and passionate way. His relationship with the curate is more provocative and terrible than that between Tom Cruise and Tim Robbins in the 2005 movie version by Spielberg. For that matter, the novel, depicting the narrator's attempts to survive and to find his wife, is sparer and cleaner than the film, clotted by Spielberg's corny additions of a little daughter and teenage son into his divorced protagonist's life. Wells' imaginings of the Martian tripod war machines with their terrible heat-ray and poison gas weapons and of their spider-like handling-machines (with their uncanny animation and dexterity) and of the red creeping Martian weeds and of how panicked masses of people would behave are all vivid and morbidly fascinating. Via his Martians, Wells forces us to look again at our actions towards the ???inferior??? species and aboriginal peoples on our own world and also at our ???right??? to survive in an uncaring universe.

Simon Vance does his usual fine job of reading, everything being just right except perhaps that his female voices may verge on the artificially feminine. But all in all this is a great audiobook.

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14 of 16 people found this review helpful

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