W is for War of the Worlds

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Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.

— H. G. Wells (1898), The War of the Worlds

War of the Worlds is probably one of the most written about books, certainly in terms of SF if not all genres, so I shall just confine myself to a few points that occur to me.

It was published in 1898!

It was one of the first books ever to deal with the idea of extra-terrestrial invasion.

It is written in the first person with the (unnamed) narrator coolly observing and describing the events around him.

It is a fantastic read.

My favourite bit is when a Royal Navy ironclad (a ship), called The Thunder Child, heroically fights the Martians.

Like  the best SF it doesn’t predict the future as much as comment on the present. If it is about anything, it is about colonialism. The Martian invasion of earth and the uncaring destruction of British civilisation is a metaphor for the way European countries waged wars of genicide against native African peoples during the 19th century.

If you haven’t read it you really should!

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