Throwback Thursday [#10]: The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells


GOODREADS SUMMARY | Chatham River Press | Hardcover, 192 pages | 1989 | Adult Fiction | Science Fiction | Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Back in 2012, I decided to do something about the glaring shortage of classics on my shelves. I own several of them, but I’ve never really read most of them. They’ve always been a terrifying undertaking, and I’m always worried that I’ll come off sounding a little pretentious. So I started picking classics that I thought would be relatively easy to read. I must admit that this H.G. Wells collection is a little way over my head, since his genre is something that I don’t normally seek out. However, there are six short stories to choose from; most of which are relatively known. So I chose the one that I know a bit about.

The War of the Worlds is a short novel that I thought would be a fun one to read since I’ve seen the movie years ago. I actually dragged my husband to see it, even though neither of us are a fan of Tom Cruise. We despise the poor sod, to be honest. I knew that the movie will be worlds different from the Victorian novel, which, to be honest is its major draw.

It was interesting to see how different things were at the time. For one, there were no phones or internet to spread the news of the world’s impending doom. All you have are people clamouring to save their own hides as they flee London. News of the invasion was passed on via rumours and hearsays. There was a telling absence of a ruling government directing its people; amongst of which, was the complete lack of organization from the military. In fact, every one was left to fend for themselves. Horses and carriages were the means of transport, a combination that seemed like a feeble match to the aliens.

The invaders were from Mars, but the notion that they’ve been here all along was alluded to. Some came in a fireball that embedded themselves in the ground. And when they rose from the pits from where they landed, people felt complacent enough to think that they’ll be slowed down by the gravitational difference between two planets. They were wrong, of course. In addition, with the seemingly archaic choice of weaponry, it had me thinking about how easily the human race would be wiped out. They were powerless.

In the end though, nature saved the day. If you’ve not seen the movie, the aliens got sick, and eventually died from consuming human blood. Humans had antibodies, viruses that the genetic make up of aliens couldn’t handle. It was what led to their demise.

What I loved about the movie adaptation was the realistic portrayal of how humans behave in time of great strife. We have the tendency to defeat our own selves. We succumb to madness – both real and imagined. That was a prevailing observation in this novel as well. I think it was even more so, because the lack of information at the time wreaked havoc in everyone’s minds.

The underlying lesson in this book is, simply put, dominance; hierarchy, and the man’s perch on top of the food chain. That regardless of how important, and how further ahead we are from other species, there will always be something/someone who will have to power to overcome us. Existentially, we were compared to animals that we hunt (for game or for sustenance). Humans turn on their basest of instincts when faced with grave danger. Unfortunately, we more often go back to our selfish nature.

In conclusion, this book was a fast read. Though the narrative is painfully dry, the suspense and the action makes the readers forget the lack of dialogues.