My last foray into Wellsian literature was back in 20..sometime in the past when I read The Sleeper Awakes which I found confusing, as well as racist and sexist (a product of it’s time as they say), I also read The Invisible Man which I seem to recall I found less overtly offensive but the protagonist is a bit of a knob.
So I wasn’t expecting to be overly thrilled by War of the Worlds, but it’s short so it was on my list. This is the story of a Martian invasion, it was written in the late 1890’s but it was the 1938 radio version by Orson Wells that people remember, and now the much more recent Spielburg film.
Something very like the war fever that occasionally runs through a civilised community had got into my blood…
Anyway, it’s a first person account of an unnamed protagonist surviving through the Martian invasion. You don’t find out much about him although you can deduce that he is middle class- he studies philosophy or somesuch…By chance he manages to survive the destruction of Woking and much of London at the hands of the strange alien invaders and their giant metal fighting-machines.
At the sight of these strange, swift, and terrible creatures the crowd near the water’s edge seemed to me to be for a moment horror-struck.
I was right to think I wouldn’t enjoy the book, although I know other people who did. Really I don’t care for his writing style which I find confusing. Especially the descriptions of the Martians or anything for that matter. I found myself almost skim reading much of the book. I never really felt that I knew what was happening, or what they looked like, or why they would think to attack Woking.
“This isn’t a war”, said the artilleryman. “It never was a war, any more than there’s war between man and ants”.
It might just be that somethings are lost in translation from 1890 to 2016, this is a world where the internet does not exist. Where people across vast distances are not connected, and no one has access to instant updates so our protagonist in Woking doesn’t know what’s happened to his brother in London or wife in Leatherhead. Ok fair enough, it was the olden days. But how does everyone know that the Martians are attacking and how come everyone believes instantly that they are from Mars?
Something about it didn’t ring true to me. But maybe I’m being too fussy.