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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.

Public Domain (P)2009 Tantor

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Ants

Since scifi is not my preferred genre, I’m rarely tempted to use a valuable credit for space invasions. But the Daily Deal encouraged my curiosity about this classic and I was very well rewarded.

I haven’t seen any of the movie adaptations, but I suspect that any updating of the story to modern times would take away one of the things that made this story so chilling to me, and that was the slow dawning of realization that came over the humans as they faced the unimaginable. Such an invasion today would be instantly blasted from phone to phone around the world in seconds. The tension builds as the understanding of the danger occurs to the residents of the English countryside – blooming from amused interest to disbelief, blustery bravado and finally outright panic as the impersonal ruthlessness of the tripod warriors destroys all hope of escape. The description of man wiping out ants was chillingly apt.

Well’s acute understanding of human nature comes through as he vividly describes the heroics and villainy of panicked mobs, the reliance on or loss of faith, and the strength of will and resourcefulness to survive. And for anyone who has tried to actually wipe out ants – it’s never been done. This human insight makes the story timeless though written well over a century ago. Vance’s reading made it all the more personal and wonderful.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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Aliens

What made the experience of listening to The War of the Worlds the most enjoyable?

I really liked Vance's performance and how he made all the character come to life.

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

Simon Vance is one of my favorite narrators.

Any additional comments?

It is a smooth read and very easy to follow with enough mystery and suspense to keep you wanting more.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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So Much More Than The Movie(s)

The full story is so much more better than the movies or any other media have presented. A great presentation.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Curate Cabin Fever, or Watch out for that Tripod!

What an imaginative, objective, gripping, bracing, and humbling novel H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds is! The story is well-known: Martians land on earth, in Woking in Southern England, and quickly set about destroying the British infrastructure and military defenses and crisping via heat ray the humans they don't capture to use as handy blood sources, all as detachedly and efficiently as humans would deal with a colony of ants or wasps. The first person narrator relates all this in a compellingly honest and passionate way. His relationship with the curate is more provocative and terrible than that between Tom Cruise and Tim Robbins in the 2005 movie version by Spielberg. For that matter, the novel, depicting the narrator's attempts to survive and to find his wife, is sparer and cleaner than the film, clotted by Spielberg's corny additions of a little daughter and teenage son into his divorced protagonist's life. Wells' imaginings of the Martian tripod war machines with their terrible heat-ray and poison gas weapons and of their spider-like handling-machines (with their uncanny animation and dexterity) and of the red creeping Martian weeds and of how panicked masses of people would behave are all vivid and morbidly fascinating. Via his Martians, Wells forces us to look again at our actions towards the ???inferior??? species and aboriginal peoples on our own world and also at our ???right??? to survive in an uncaring universe.

Simon Vance does his usual fine job of reading, everything being just right except perhaps that his female voices may verge on the artificially feminine. But all in all this is a great audiobook.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

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Still Awesomely Horrific

H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds is apparently one of those literary classics of Science Fiction that only seems to have gotten better with age. It's still bizarre and terrifying to listen to, and this is due in no small part to Simon Vance's incredible narration.

I'd read the book years back, and have seen both cinematic adaptations. I wasn't sure how it would hold-up, but I was completely hooked from the opening minutes. I'm impressed by how full of weird this book is - the Martians and their tripods are some of the most original aliens we are ever likely to read. And some of the scenes and characters - the curate in particular - seem more relevant and upsetting than they did to me when I initially read it.

Vance is an excellent reader in general, and his performance here brings a lot of emotion to this apocalyptic vision. His voice and tone are sobering, a man witnessing the destruction of his civilization, trying to come to grips with it and figure out what (if anything) he is to do next. Vance is really the ideal reader for this one, and he turns in great work here.

All in all, this is an excellent storytelling experience. Highly recommended if you want a dose of classic Science Fiction.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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The Definitive Science Fiction Novel

Science fiction as we know it today would not exist without H.G. Wells, and no science fiction reader's library would be complete without a copy of War of the Worlds. In this version read by the incomparable Simon Vance, Audible has produced a real treasure. The story is first of all a tale of alien invasion, and indeed is so terrifying that no movie version comes close to the feelings of suspense it creates (of course some people found the radio version created by Orson Welles pretty scary too). I can't think of any description concerning the fall of civilization that succeeds as well as that short passage describing the flight from London before the invading Martians. But it's a lot more than just another horror story. Wells offers enough commentary to let us know that the plot allowed for a way of looking at how the British empire treated its subject peoples at the time. It is also a good look at how human beings react under pressure and what coping mechanisms work - and which ones don't - when the unexpected happens. It has as good a description of PTSD as any you'd read in any modern book, and this was decades before the syndrome was even defined. Amazing that we find all this in a compact work that comes in at under 6 hours. As much as I love a good thick novel, I'm really impressed by the succinct style and humanity of H.G. Wells. There are several versions of this classic book, but I can't imagine a better reader than Simon Vance for War of the Worlds, so this is the version I'd recommend to the undecided.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Classic for a reason with a dynamic reader

What made the experience of listening to The War of the Worlds the most enjoyable?

The narrator did a wonderful job. His voice is perfect for the narrator, aside from the obvious accent his tone carries with it a sense that this is an average man who has done well for himself and is intelligent but is not as stuffy as "high society". His tonal shift when reading as the dim-witted yet intuitive soldier just fits the character. You can believe that while he has valid points, he lacks necessary skill to carry out an otherwise decent plan, based solely on the tone and inflections.

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

I have never listened to any of Vance's other performances but based on what I heard here, I would not be opposed to hearing them.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

This entire book is moving. It is easily one of the scariest novels I have ever read (and later listened to). The helplessness of humanity in the face of the Martian invaders is terrifying. The heat ray is a scary weapon and it isn't too hard to imagine that if an alien race wanted Earth, this is essentially how it would go down. There is not a lot of back story but the beginning does cover a motivation for the Martians to come and invade Earth. Just as it isn't too hard to imagine Martians doing this to Earth, perhaps one day mankind will reach a point where we would become the invaders.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Can't go wrong with Wells, or with Vance

H.G. Well's _The War of the Worlds_, despite being a century old, still feels modern. Vance, as usual, is excellent.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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kept me enthralled till the end

Loved it, the amazing descriptions of everything, right down to mechanisms was totally different and really enjoyable

1 of 1 people found this review helpful