Saturday, April 24, 2010

Reflection: The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

The War of the Worlds is a classic science fiction novel that is one scientist’s account of the Martian invasion of Earth that began in his home county and the events that followed. Even though, The War of the Worlds was written and set at the end of the 19th century it maintains a timeless nature. I think that part of what give The War of the Worlds its timeless nature is that Wells focuses less on the technological aspects of the story and more on the human emotional reactions to the crisis. The nature of humanity is one that never changes whether the humans in question are driving horses and carriages or cars.

Some of the philosophical issues presented by Wells are particularly fascinating. The Martians themselves are presented as a representation of a fully intellectualized species. The Martians have evolved into just large brains and hand-like tentacles and create machines to accomplish each purpose. At one point, using the Martians as a case study, Wells seems to warn against over reliance on machines.

I found this book to be thoroughly engrossing. It was an interesting look into the beginnings of the modern science fiction genre.

As an additional bit of interest, check out the 1938 radio broadcast of the War of the Worlds that aired the day before Halloween and caused mass panic.

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