Reading War Of The Worlds Book One, Chapter One

Dedication: to my brother Frank Well, this rendering of his idea.

P. 238

Given how successful this book became, it seems like a very generous gesture to acknowledge it wasn’t his idea. But of course he couldn’t have known how successful it was going to be (one might say “no-one would have believed…”)

Book One – The Coming of the Martians

I-The Eve Of War

No-one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century… P.244

I will never not hear those words in Richard Burron’s voice!

Men went to and fro…serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. P.244

New word! Excellent word.

The Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination by European immigrants, in the space of fifty years. P. 245

First: wait, what?! I don’t know this story and must look it up. If it’s true (and it probably is), ugh!

Second: “in spite of their human likeness”?! Even as smart and modern and enlightened a thinker as H. G. Wells is hampered by the conventions and scientific limitations of his time. Even when he senses the pure error of the thing.
“Men like Schiaparelli…failed to interpret the fluctuating appearances of the markings they mapped so well.” P. 245

Reading this 117 years later, we know so much more. But it’s fine. I’m reading this as alternate history or alternate reality spec-fic!

…the serio-comic periodical Punch…made happy use of it in a political cartoon. P.247

Oh, I do hope someone eventually mocked this up…

It seems to me now almost incredibly wonderful that, with that swift fate hanging over us, men could go about their petty concerns as they did. P. 248

I love that he spends half a page detailing the tranquil, idyllic banalities of daily life-as-it-was (he’s “learning to ride the bicycle” — not a child’s occupation in the machine’s own youth!)

Chapter One Notes:

This whole chapter is solidly, delightfully science fiction. He talks about current scientific knowledge, real research locations and scientific instruments and practices, but puts them to work in his “what if” story. Love it!

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