Tuesday, 11 March 2008

War of the Worlds

Another fine apocalypse.

H. G. Wells will always be one of the great writers, both of science fiction and of social comedies. I've written about him at greater length elsewhere, but here I'm just focusing on The War of the Worlds. from 1898.

One of Wells' best books, this may also be the best book ever written about the invasion of Earth from space. Instead of the bland idealised humans that had been previous writers’ idea of life on other worlds, Wells created truly and horribly alien monsters that require huge war machines to travel around in Earth’s gravity. Armed with what are effectively lasers, and impossible to stop with anything humans can produce, these invaders calmly set about taking over the planet. The first-person narration, spectacular set-pieces and imaginative thoroughness make this a compelling and fresh novel still, so many years after its first appearance: genuinely thrilling stuff. It's even survived Jeff Wayne, Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise; no mean feat.

There's a huge collection--338 at last count--of the various covers this book has been given here. If the images shown her get your interest, you'll love it over there.

First, here are 5 of the covers Penguin has given the book over the years. As always, click for a much bigger version.

Here are a selection of some of the other covers. As you can see, plenty of artists have given themselves the opportunity to let rip with the death, destruction and tripod walking machines.

Finally, here's a cover by the great Edward Gorey. This edition of the book, with Gorey's interior illustrations, has been returned to print by NYRB Classics.


Steerforth said...

I bought 'A Wrinkle in the Skin' on the strength of your recommendation and love it. Thanks!

JRSM said...

My pleasure--if I was a publisher I'd bring that, 'The Death of Grass' and 'The World in Winter' out as a funky omnbinus called something like 'Three Ends of the World'.