“By the toll of a billion deaths man has bought his birthright of the earth, and it is his against all comers; it would still be his were the Martians ten times as mighty as they are. For neither do men live nor die in vain.”
- The War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells
I'm not much of a science fiction reader and I probably wouldn't have ever picked this up if it weren't for my book club. Its one of the first books about alien invasion and it's so interesting. You know that this man wasn't influenced by other books or movies this all just came right out of his head. It's actually a little terrifying to think about it.
Man had not yet learned to fly when H.G. Wells conceived this story of a Martian attack on England. Giant cylinders crash to Earth, disgorging huge, unearthly creatures armed with heat-rays and fighting machines. Amid the boundless destruction they cause, it looks as if the end of the world has come.
The story follows a man who is at the scene of the first martian landing. We see the wonder, the terror, and the utter defeat he feels. The journey as he treks across England looking for safety and finding none. The ending is crazy and mind boggling but I think H. G. Wells went about the whole book brilliantly.
The man we follow is determined to live. And from the very first scene you can tell that hes going to fight before he just rolls over and accepts that life as he knows it is over. As he journeys he starts to see that humanity takes a lot for granted. We are the rulers of the earth and everything bows to our will. But when the martians come he see that we are like ants to the martians.
At the time this was written there were no planes and you have to wonder just how different it would be if aliens invaded earth now. We have a lot more fire power and I'd like to think we wouldn't be thrown into chaos and be picked off so easily.
Towards the end of the book we run into a character who has a whole system worked out to build tunnels under England and only allow the strong in. The whole save humanity by hiding and coming out to fight stronger thing. And I had to think how many dystopian books have I read where there's a community in hiding waiting to come out and fight? Really I think H. G. Wells had a time machine.
It struck me while reading that this book was more about the way humans act than the martians invading earth. When he describes the scenes where people are thrown into chaos it was horrifying. He put it in such a graphic way and when he described how the people were treating each other it was disgusting. But I've heard so many real life stories about how people act when they're scared and their only concern is for themselves it was believable.
But the main characters give you hope for humanity and that's something I loved about the book. You could see that even though there was no way that the one man could defeat a martian he was still going to try. You could count on it.
If you want a book that is going to make you think then I recommend this one. H. G. Wells was way beyond his time period and that fact just gives you more to digest as you read.