|War of the Worlds|
by H.G. Wells
Genres: Classic, Historical Fiction, Horror,
War of the Worlds was originally written in 1898 during a time when aliens was not a common every day theme in entertainment. This classic novel tells of the panic and destruction when aliens from Mars invade earth, wanting to take it over for their own use. The horror component is fairly soft core compared to today's standards, but in its day, it was one of the first books published depicting a conflict between earth and invading extraterrestrials. Told as a first person narrative by an unnamed survivor, he also tells us of his brother's experiences during the invasion.
The character theorizes that the alien race may have been more human-like at its beginning and through evolution has become more brain than body that relied heavily on the tripod walking machines to get around. Our narrator recalls an article he had read in the Pall Mall Gazette which had suggested a similar theory of evolution. This character is most likely referring to Wells' own article titled The Man of the Year Million published in 1893.
This book probably became most notoriously known in 1938 when Orson Welles adapted the novel from the first person narrative to a radio play revealing the story plot through a series of news bulletins for the Halloween episode of his radio show Mercury Theatre on the Air. Orson Welles changed the setting from England to the then modern day New Jersey. Since the radio show was unsponsored, Welles craftily hid the warnings that the story was fiction within time frames when it was likely that listeners would be tuned into other programs and timed it so that the most dramatic parts of his story unfolded while his competitor programs were on commercial breaks and consumers were apt to be spinning the radio dial looking for something else to listen to. While many people at the time did believe that aliens were really invading, it is suggested that this panic may have been exaggerated by the newspapers. At the time, radio was a new medium and the papers quite probably were rumormongering to make their new competition look bad.
The book is only a bit over 100 pages and really needs to be read. Definitely on the Must Read list of any bookworm. I also highly suggest listening to Orson Welles' broadcast as well.
As with most classics, this novel is within the public domain and available for download as a free ebook on both Amazon and Goodreads.