H.G. Wells and the War of the Worlds

Over on the Kirkus Reviews blog, I’ve turned my attention to one of my absolute favorite science fiction novels, The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells. One of the absolute greatest works of science fiction, it’s a story that I’ve continually learned more about ever since I first read it so many years ago. You can read H.G. Wells and the Decline of Empires over on Kirkus’ website.

There’s a couple of unconventional sources that I used for this book, in addition to the usual sources that I’ve gone to continually for this column:

Experiment in autobiography; discoveries and conclusions of a very ordinary brain (since 1866) by H.G. Wells: For specific author information, one can do no wrong by going to the original source: in this instance, H.G. Wells’ words. This biography is a little frustrating at points, because he doesn’t talk much about his actual writing, but it does give a unique insight into his daily life around the time that he wrote this novel.

Not Separated at Birth: Dracula and The War of the Worlds (Panel Discussion): This wasn’t a reference work, but a panel that included Charlie Stross, Gregory Feeley, David G. Hartwell, Faye Ringel and Darrell Schweitzer at Boskone 38 this past spring. I took a number of notes during the talk, which was a facinating comparison between both Dracula and War of the Worlds, and examining them as colonization novels, which was part of a much larger genre at that time.

Prophets of Science Fiction, H.G. Wells: Last year, the Science Channel and Ridley Scott partnered for a series titled The Prophets of Science Fiction, which examined a handful of notable authors in the genre, including H.G. Wells. Taking their works, the program alternatively looked at biography and some of the modern technological innovations that are fairly loosely associated with the works. It’s not mindblowing, but the episode on Wells provides a nice snapshot of his life, while glossing over some of the other things, such as his social politics.

The usual sources of Billion/Trillion Year Spree, by Brian Aldiss, The Dreams Our Stuff is Made Of, by Thomas M. Disch, The History of Science Fiction, by Adam Roberts and the Survey of Science Fiction all had their own praises and examinations of Wells’ novel and provide a great background into that era of science fiction.

The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells: of course, the best source of them all is the original novel by Wells. It’s a brilliant, stunning work that is fresh every time I go back to it. If you’ve never read it, you’re missing out on a classic.

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