When massive, intelligent aliens from Mars touch down in Victorian England and threaten to destroy the civilized world, humanity's vaunted knowledge proves to be of little use. First published in 1898, H.G. Wells's masterpiece of speculative fiction has thrilled and delighted generations of readers, spawned countless imitations, and inspired dramatizations by such masters as Orson Welles and Steven Spielberg. The War of the Worlds is a fantasy that is both startlingly up-to-date and in touch with the most ancient of human fears.
In 1960, Edward Gorey prepared a set of his inimitable pen-and-ink drawings to illustrate a new edition of Wells's The War of the Worlds for the legendary Looking Glass Library. Characteristically quirky, elegant, and entrancing, Gorey's visual take on Wells's seminal tour de force has been unavailable for close to fifty years. This special hardcover edition from NYRB Classics brings back for today's readers a richly rewarding collaboration between two modern masters of all that's wonderful and strange.
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 his 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 a corralled. --Craig E. Engler