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The War of the Worlds Audiobook

The War of the Worlds

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Publisher's Summary

First published by H. G. Wells in 1898, The War of the Worlds is the granddaddy of all alien invasion stories. The novel begins ominously, as the lone voice of a narrator intones, "No one would have believed in the last years of the 19th century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's."

Things then progress from a series of seemingly mundane reports about odd atmospheric disturbances taking place on Mars to the arrival of Martians just outside of London. At first, the Martians seem laughable, hardly able to move in Earth's comparatively heavy gravity, even enough to raise themselves out of the pit created when their spaceship landed. But soon the Martians reveal their true nature as death machines 100 feet tall rise up from the pit and begin laying waste to the surrounding land. Wells quickly moves the story from the countryside to the evacuation of London itself and the loss of all hope as England's military suffers defeat after defeat.

With horror, the narrator describes how the Martians suck the blood from living humans for sustenance and how it's clear that man is not being conquered so much as corralled.

(P)2009 Tantor

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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Performance
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  •  
    David 10-28-14
    David 10-28-14 Member Since 2012

    Indiscriminate Reader

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    "The first, the greatest alien invasion story"

    It's pretty much impossible not to know the plot of this hundred-year-old sci-fi classic, the granddaddy of all alien invasion stories, the inspiration for all Mars fiction ever since, even stories without Martians. The ravaging of London, the iconic tripods, the inhuman, ululating Martians, probably everyone is familiar with Wells' story even if only a fraction have actually read the book.

    I'm guilty of not reading the original until now, though I've read and watched countless adaptations and tributes.

    Wells's story moves along with the first person narrator experiencing the coming of the Martians, falling in cylinders shot from a great cannon on Mars. At first they seem weak and helpless, being just gelatinous bodies without the strength to move about in Earth's gravity, and even after they display their heat ray, no one really considers them an existential threat - the army will show up soon enough to sort them out.

    Once they rise up on their hundred-foot-tall tripods, however, they prove to be an unstoppable force. The British army gives them a bit of a fight at first - the Martian war machines are not impervious to artillery shells - but between poison gas and heat rays, they're soon killing everything in their path, laying London to waste, and driving six million people into panicked flight.

    The narrator makes his way across a ruined London, finds himself trapped in a house beneath a Martian war party, and experiences the horror of their dining habits and the madness of his fellow survivors.

    As a straightforward sci-fi story, of course, this was a frightening tale of alien invasion. But it's also frightening in its description of what almost becomes a post-apocalyptic landscape. The great metaphor of The War of the Worlds, of course, is the domination of less technologically advanced civilizations by stronger ones who feel entitled to take what they need and prey on their inferiors. In other words, Wells describes the British being treated as they have treated others, and the coming of the Martians is no less devastating to England than the coming of the English must have seemed to the natives of Africa, India, and North America. Wells makes this point very effectively without ever harping on, hence one could choose to totally miss it and see the novel as just a SF war story. But then you'd be missing the true dimensions of the horror Wells is describing.

    As a novel, The War of the Worlds is more of a travelogue, in the style of Wells's 19th century contemporaries, than an adventure story. The narrator never actually does much, just bears witness to what the Martians do. The strength of the story is in the gruesome details about the Martians, and the havoc they visit upon hapless Earthmen.

    It may appear to be faded with age, but it must have been quite the hair-raiser back in the day, as evidenced by the famous Orson Welles broadcast that terrified America.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kate Adelaide, SA, Australia 04-17-12
    Kate Adelaide, SA, Australia 04-17-12
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    "Experience the Invasion"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The War of the Worlds to be better than the print version?

    I always think that text and audio combine beautifully, it makes the experience all the more chilling to have it read aloud.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The great use of tension in the readers voice, really set the mood.


    Have you listened to any of Simon Vance’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have not, but I really want to hear more of his work.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I did it over a few days, due to time constraints, but I could easily listen to it in one sitting.


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jens United States 04-09-11
    Jens United States 04-09-11 Member Since 2010
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    "over 100 years old and still awesome!"

    Even though the time frame is generations ago this is a fantastic book. This comes from a big techno-file. It amazes me this came from so long ago.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marie 05-16-14
    Marie 05-16-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Fascinating, without Tom Cruise"

    Not at all what I expected. I had watched the 1953 movie starring Gene Barry but never considered when the story originally took place. I had no idea the book was written in 1897 and was set in England rather than California. What I found most surprising was that attitude of the populous to the arrival of Martians. Until the Martians began to attack, there was no panic or civil disorder. The people seemed very willing to accept the existence of Martians.

    I found the story intriguing. As always, Simon Vance is a superb narrator.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter South Windsor, CT 11-01-13
    Peter South Windsor, CT 11-01-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Great story. Great read."
    Any additional comments?

    Having never read "The War of the Worlds," I thought it was about time. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and the narration.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eugenia Chatsworth, CA, US 08-29-16
    Eugenia Chatsworth, CA, US 08-29-16 Member Since 2009
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    "A True Classic"

    You cannot listen to this imaginative and clever story without realizing how long ago H. G. Wells wrote this. He was a true visionary and his imagination is legendary.
    I enjoyed the rich, flowery language of the time even as I smiled at some of the over-the-top expressions.
    One of my favorite movies of all time is War Of The Worlds with Tom Cruise (with apologies to the first movie) and I enjoyed blending the movie with this original book as I listened.
    Definitely a classic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Gary C. Mcgee 08-27-16 Member Since 2014
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    "a classic"

    I really enjoyed this book It's been a how long time since I've read the book book is also the Cornerstone of classic sci-fi

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    diana j 05-17-16
    diana j 05-17-16
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    "a little dated but awesome"

    excellent narrator, and great story! I am not from England so, following his movements were lost on me but I got the gyst.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Justin Murray 02-14-16
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    "Excellent"

    This book was more than what I expected. The back story helped envision things better. Any movie based on this book would be a mockery.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer 08-27-15
    Jennifer 08-27-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Classic for a good reason"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This is a classic for good reason! This was so "outside of the box" originally, but I think it is still absolutely fantastic.!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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