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About the book
  • Published: 26 April 2005
  • ISBN: 9780141441030
  • Imprint: Penguin Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 240
  • RRP: $14.99

The War Of The Worlds




The first modern tale of alien invasion, H.G. Wells's The War of the Worlds remains one of the most influential science fiction novels ever published. This Penguin Classics edition is edited by Patrick Parrinder with an introduction by Brian Aldiss, author of Hothouse, and notes by Andy Sawyer.
The night after a shooting star is seen streaking through the sky from Mars, a cylinder is discovered on Horsell Common in London. At first, naïve locals approach the cylinder armed just with a white flag - only to be quickly killed by an all-destroying heat-ray, as terrifying tentacled invaders emerge. Soon the whole of human civilisation is under threat, as powerful Martians build gigantic killing machines, destroy all in their path with black gas and burning rays, and feast on the warm blood of trapped, still-living human prey. The forces of the Earth, however, may prove harder to beat than they at first appear.
The War of the Worlds has been the subject of countless adaptations, including an Orson Welles radio drama which caused mass panic when it was broadcast, with listeners confusing it for a news broadcast heralding alien invasion; a musical version by Jeff Wayne; and, most recently, Steven Spielberg's 2005 film version, starring Tom Cruise. This Penguin Classics edition includes a full biographical essay on Wells, a further reading list and detailed notes. The introduction, by Brian Aldiss, considers the novel's view of religion and society.
H.G. Wells (1866-1946) was a professional writer and journalist. Among his most popular works are The Time Machine (1895); The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), filmed with Bela Lugosi in 1932, and again in 1996 with Marlon Brando; The Invisible Man (1897); The War of the Worlds (1898); and The First Men in the Moon (1901), which predicted the first lunar landings.
If you enjoyed The War of the Worlds, you might like Wells's The Time Machine, also available in Penguin Classics.

  • Pub date: 26 April 2005
  • ISBN: 9780141441030
  • Imprint: Penguin Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 240
  • RRP: $14.99

About the Authors

H. G. Wells

H. G. Wells, the third son of a small shopkeeper, was born in Bromley in 1866. After two years' apprenticeship in a draper's shop, he became a pupil-teacher at Midhurst Grammar School and won a scholarship to study under T. H. Huxley at the Normal School of Science, South Kensington. He taught biology before becoming a professional writer and journalist. He wrote more than a hundred books, including novels, essays, histories and programmes for world regeneration.

Wells, who rose from obscurity to world fame, had an emotionally and intellectually turbulent life. His prophetic imagination was first displayed in pioneering works of science fiction such as The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897) and The War of the Worlds (1898). Later he became an apostle of socialism, science and progress, whose anticipations of a future world state include The Shape of Things to Come (1933). His controversial views on sexual equality and women's rights were expressed in the novels Ann Veronica (1909) and The New Machiavelli (1911). He was, in Bertrand Russell's words, 'an important liberator of thought and action'.

Wells drew on his own early struggles in many of his best novels, including Love and Mr Lewisham (1900), Kipps (1905), Tono-Bungay (1909) and The History of Mr Polly (1910). His educational works, some written in collaboration, include The Outline of History (1920) and The Science of Life (1930). His Experiment in Autobiography (2 vols., 1934) reviews his world. He died in London in 1946.

H.G. Wells

H.G. Wells was born in Bromley, Kent, in 1866. After an education repeatedly interrupted by his family’s financial problems, he eventually found work as a teacher at a succession of schools, where he began to write his first stories.
Wells became a prolific writer with a diverse output, of which the famous works are his science fiction novels. These are some of the earliest and most influential examples of the genre, and include classics such as The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds. Most of his books very well-received, and had a huge influence on many younger writers, including George Orwell and Isaac Asimov. Wells also wrote many popular non-fiction books, and used his writing to support the wide range of political and social causes in which he had an interest, although these became increasingly eccentric towards the end of his life.
Twice-married, Wells had many affairs, including a ten-year liaison with Rebecca West that produced a son. He died in London in 1946.


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