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5.0 out of 5 stars The origins of sci-fi, 1 May 2011
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Time Machine, the Invisible Man, the War of the Worlds (Everyman's Library Classics & Contemporary Classics) (Hardcover)
One of the very first science fiction authors -- and the one with the biggest impact on sci-fi -- was undoubtedly H.G. Wells. And "The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds" brings together three of his timeless novels, filled with weird occurrences and even weirder creatures.

"The Time Machine" concerns the Time Traveller, an English scientist who has built a machine capable of taking a person through time. So he goes to the year 802,701 A.D. and finds that civilization has fallen -- the human race has become the grotesque, apish Morlocks and the innocent, vague Eloi. And as he continues traveling into the future, it becomes bleaker.

"The Invisible Man" involves... well, an invisible man. A stranger covered entirely in clothes, goggles and bandages arrives in the village of Iping, and frightens the locals with his strange behavior. When the "invisible man" stumbles across the house of Dr. Kemp, he reveals his true identity and just how he became invisible...

Finally, "The War of the Worlds" takes place when the narrator finds a bizarre metal spaceship, filled with enormous tentacled Martians -- and soon they're decimating the army with their heat rays and tripodal fighting machines. Now, the human race is threatened with annihilation or enslavement, unless something can turn the war of the worlds in their favor.

A future "dying earth," time machines, strange elixirs and even the idea of aliens invading the Earth -- H.G. Wells came up with a lot of the ideas that are now pretty common in science fiction. Some of his ideas have been disproven (I'm pretty sure there are no hyper-evolved, tentacled monsters on Mars), but that doesn't make his books any less groundbreaking.

Wells wrote in a staid 19th-century style, full of vivid descriptions ("The red eastern sky, the northward blackness, the salt Dead Sea, the stony beach crawling with these foul, slow-stirring monsters") and powerful emotions (the wild chase scenes in "The Invisible Man"). He also had a knack for inserting some really alien stuff into the stories, as well as some truly bleak depictions of what might come to pass.

And he wove in plenty of science -- bacteria, albinism, evolution and the life cycle of a planet, as well as the question of whether there was life on other worlds. I can only imagine how these books must have expanded the imaginations of the Victorians who read them.

HG Wells' most famous works are brought together in "The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds." It's bleak, brilliant sci-fi that needs to be read to be believed.
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