Born in Kent, England to poor parents, H. G. Wells was apprenticed to a draper at age 14. Fired, he bounced from job to job, and at age 18 he went to college and became a pupil of scientist Thomas Henry Huxley, the greatest influence on his life. After two troubled marriages, Wells began publishing his novels and grew very wealthy; his first novel, THE TIME MACHINE, was followed by approximately a book a year. He was described by his paramour Rebecca West as "practically off his head, enormously vain, irascible, and in a fantasy world." He died in 1946, one month from his 80th birthday. His influence on other authors is incalculable.
"Mr. Wells's dramatic power is of the strongest, and though 'War of the Worlds' deals with death, desolation and ruin, he has known how to manage a terrible topic in a clever and ingenuous way. What are we after all in the great cosmogony, but ants?...Take any convulsion of nature, as an earthquake, and how weak and impotent man is. Perhaps that is the lesson Mr. Wells may wish to impart. We are, after all, but the weakling lords of this world."
From the Publisher
The book was written in two parts: "The Coming of the Martians", which details the Martians' landing and conquering; and "The Earth Under the Martians", which is a post-apocalyptic account of the Martians' reign and their subsequent vanquishing by microbes which they are unprepared for. Mars, and the possibility of life on it, had apparently intrigued Wells for some time. In an interesting aside, as Bernard Bergonzi notes in his "Early H. G. Wells", the author also had some fun writing scenes in which the aliens destroyed characters modeled on his neighbors. Adapted by Orson Welles and Howard Koch for the notorious 1938 Halloween radio broadcast, this story sent hundreds of frenzied families onto the highways in an attempt to escape the alien threat.
No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.
"No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own. . ." So begins The War of the Worlds, the novel that made Wells famous and has enthralled and terrified for almost 100 years. Ten huge and tireless creatures land in England and, using their deadly rays and crushing strength, threaten the very existence of humankind. Wells' classic is not just groundbreaking science fiction, it is a shocking social parable about man's inhumanity to man.
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