Macmillan Collector’s Library now gives us the complete and unabridged edition of this classic milestone in science fiction literature. It has a bespoke cover design, real cloth binding, a ribbon page marker, gilt-edged pages and is small enough to put in your pocket.
The introduction by James P. Blaylock notes how Herbert George Wells progressed from being a draper’s assistant to becoming a prolific science fiction writer equal to the stature of Jules Verne. Wells hated being described as the ‘English Jules Verne’ mainly on the basis that Verne’s work was based on actual possibilities whereas he considered his own stories as ‘exercises in imagination’.
Blaylock points out that The War of the Worlds emerged from the popular invasion literature of the period. Wells, however, went one huge step further than imagining thinly disguised German invaders attacking our shores in a war in the near future, and wondered what would happen to us if Martians attacked.
Wells was also inspired by reading about how European immigrants settled in Tasmania and eradicated the aboriginal population through spreading diseases they had no immunity to fight off. He uses this to good effect in his story to show that nature can be as powerful as any superior technology.
He might well have been exercising his imagination but he plants it in plausible facts and writes in a semi-documentary style to give it greater impact. This powerful way of conveying what we now call ‘fake news’ was used by Orson Wells in his radio version of the story in 1938, which alarmed the US listeners so much that many thought there were real Martians on the loose.
The War of the Worlds has cast a huge shadow over science fiction and our collective imagination, and it is wonderful you can have all this in such a cute and well-made pocket edition.
THE WAR OF THE WORLDS / AUTHOR: H.G. WELLS / PUBLISHER: MACMILLAN COLLECTOR’S LIBRARY / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW