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In these two compelling novels H.G. Wells imagines terrifying futures in which civilisation itself is threatened.
The narrator of The War of the Worlds is quick to discover that what appeared to be a falling star was, in fact, a metallic cylinder landing from Mars. Six million people begin to flee London in panic as tentacled invaders emerge and overpower the city. With their heat-ray, killing machines, black gas, and a taste for fresh human blood, is there anything that can be done to stop the Martians?
The War of the Worlds is a landmark science fiction novel published in 1897 by English author H. G. Wells. Its nameless narrator provides a firsthand account of the arrival of Martians in the area surrounding London and their subsequent devastation of central England. Vastly outmatched by Martian technology, human civilization is brought entirely to its knees in a matter of days, although the Martians are totally eradicated by terrestrial bacteria before they can expand their devastation beyond Great Britain. Although other novels had featured a hostile alien invasion before, The War of the Worlds is the first widely successful example of this Sci-Fi genre, and it remains a core text in the science fiction canon.
In The War in the Air, naive but resourceful Bert Smallways is thrilled by speed and fascinated by the new flying machines. His curiosity sweeps him away by accident into a German plan to conquer America, beginning with the destruction of New York. The ease of movement in aerial warfare means that nothing and nobody is safe as Total War erupts, civilisation crumbles, and Bert’s hopes of getting back to London to marry his love seem impossibly distant.
In “The War in the Air,” Wells presents a narrative of a global war fought primarily in the skies. He examines the destructive power of air warfare, the vulnerability of civilian populations, and the challenges faced by nations attempting to defend themselves against airborne attacks. The story follows the main character, Bert Smallways, who finds himself caught up in the midst of the war and witnesses firsthand the chaos and devastation caused by aerial battles.
Wells’ novel delves into themes such as the dangers of unchecked technological progress, the futility of war, and the potential for humanity’s self-destruction. It was one of the earliest works of fiction to depict the use of aircraft in warfare and has had a lasting impact on the science fiction genre.
With an Introduction and Notes by Dr Andrew Frayn, Lecturer in Twentieth-Century Literature and Culture at Edinburgh Napier University.
About The Author :
H. G. Wells , the son of a professional cricketer and a lady’s maid, H. G. Wells (1866-1946) served apprenticeships as a draper and a chemist’s assistant before winning a scholarship to the prestigious Normal School of Science in London. While he is best remembered for his groundbreaking science fiction novels, including The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, and The Island of Doctor Moreau, Wells also wrote extensively on politics and social matters and was one of the foremost public intellectuals of his day.
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