No more surprises. Give me a full version of the story.
Who wrote this book and when?
H.G. Wells wrote this famous novella in 1898.
Has there been a movie made of it?
Several movies, several comic books, a television series, a few video and pc games, a musical, many online rpg’s, and the famous radio broadcast version.
Who are the main characters?
the unnamed Narrator – a man from the small town of Woking, near the landing site of the first Martian cylinder
Narrator’s brother – a medical student from London
the Artilleryman – a lower ranking military man who joins up with the narrator for brief intervals
the Curate – a religious man who goes crazy because of the Martian attack
Miss Elphinstone – the younger sister of a surgeon
What’s it about?
The novel begins with an ominous discourse on the imminent invasion of Earth by aliens. Word for word what’s at the beginning of the 2005 movie version, if you’re curious. We are introduced to the Narrator – who never gives us his proper name – as he and a friend named Ogilvy witness strange flashes coming from Mars. Ogilvy is an astronomer, and for ten consecutive nights, the two men watch the strange lights with no inklin of what they actually are.
Six years later, a cylinder crashes into the ground on Horsell Common near Woking, where our narrator lives. Ogilvy immediately runs to the crash site, thinking it’s a meteorite, but is surprised to find the cylinder. He labels it “the Thing” and connects it with the flashes he had seen on Mars. Believing there are men or space travelers trapped inside, he tries to go to help them but is pushed back by the excessive heat. So he runs for help. He finds a journalist – who does his best to spread the story – and soon a great crowd has gathered around the Thing.
The crowd is frightened when the cylinder screws open and a horrible looking martian emerges – they run to hide in the brushes and trees. Next, a group of brave men, including Ogilvy, venture toward the Thing with a white flag. A gun emerges from the pit and flashes green before setting all the men in the group on fire. Everyone panics. Even the policmen and the few military individuals sent as a precaution begin running as the heat ray begins to sweep the area setting everything ablaze.
From here on, we follow either the narrator or his brother as they attempt to escape the Martians and to understand what’s going on. They travel all around the area of London and towards the coast, meeting others who are trying to do the same thing; despite the fact there seems no hope of escape.
Why is this book a classic?
This book is a classic because of it’s impact on the entire science-fiction genre. It was one of the first “end of the world” armageddon books ever written, at least believably written. From Wells’ story we get the ideas of alien invaders, space ships, robots from outer space, the ideas of ray guns and a type of creature completely unlike ourselves. Almost every science fiction novel which came after this story can attribute some part of it’s inspiration to Wells’ genius.
Why should I read this book?
Because of its history and impact. It’s interesting and has something for everyone – romance, science, action, horror, suspense, comedy…there is no genre not covered at some point in this novel.
Has it won any awards?
No, but Wells is considered the most influential science fiction writer of all time. He introduced us to not only the concepts in this book, but the concept of realistic time travel, space flight, aerial battles and explored the psychological impacts of technological advances in ways no one had attempted before.
“Then suddenly a change, the passing of something – I knew not what – and then a stillness that could be felt. Nothing but this gaunt quiet. London about me gazed at me spectrally.” – pg 193
Sometime I’d like to hear the radio broadcast version of this novel. Apparently, it is so believable that people committed suicide believing it was real when it was first broadcasted.
This book is what I expected out of “Day of the Triffids” when I began to read it. Albeit, I hadn’t read this when I delved into “Triffids” I still found myself disappointed. This book is everything you could hope for in an alien invasion story and more. There’s action for action-seekers, there’s spying for the spy-lover, there’s death and destruction for the morbid, there’s sci fi aspects and scientific aspects, political and psychological…almost every aspect of an alien invasion is touched upon. Wells was a master, that’s for sure.