I’m continuing with my challenge and making great time. Last night I finished H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds which I got from the Gutenberg project. It was a great read, and a wonderful example of science fiction. Brian Aldiss Calls it the “foundation stone for all alien invasion stories.”

Just listen to Morgan Freeman give the chilling prologue. In the book, the title of this section is: The Eve of the War. Good, eh?

The basic plot, and without giving away any spoilers, is that Martians invade the earth. 10 exploratory (and rather destructive) units are launched from Mars and arrive in London as shooting-star-esque cylinders that crash into the ground. The martians climb out and construct huge fighting machines that walk on three legs and have hanging tentacles. Their heat rays vaporize any and all opposition as well as anything that seems like it’d be better vaporized. The martians destroy a great portion of London until… Ah, can’t spoil it, but suffice it to say that the ‘recent’ movie adaptation of the novel is mediocre at best and doesn’t match the book very well at all.

I think the most interesting thing I learned from the book was never to assume our own dominion or power. Who knows if some colonizing power may simply walk in and wipe us out? Who’s to say that invasion and conquest are infallible ventures? The novel seems to carry with it an air of satire directed at the British conquest of, well, the entire world. We are so sure of our empire that we seem to ignore the fact that there may be other powers out there. Americans are quite guilty of this mindset, but then again so are the British, and the Communist nations, and just about every kingdom or empire that ever has existed.

Lesson learned? Don’t get arrogant. False security can lead to laziness and then all we have in our hands can be quickly ripped out.
I heartily recommend the book to anyone. It’s great science fiction, it’s excellent fiction, it’s good satire and maybe even historical fiction.

Four down, forty six to go!
I’m off to read The Time Machine.