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Week 14

Teen Readers

The War of the Worlds

Audio Version of H.G. Well’s The War of the Worlds

Text Version of H.G. Well’s The War of the Worlds

H.G. Wells

About the Author

Herbert George Wells (1866-1946)

H.G. Wells was born into a working-class family in Kent, England.  His parents worried about his poor health when he was young, and he was bedridden with a broken leg for several months.  He developed a lifelong love of books during his long convalescence, reading voraciously to entertain himself.  Wells worked as a teacher, continuing to educate himself after his formal training.  Well’s first novel, The Time Machine was an instant success.  He is also well-known for writing The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds.  He was an early pioneer for the science fiction genre.  He died August 13th, 1946 of unspecified causes at the age of 79.

The War of the Worlds (1898)

The War of the Worlds was originally serialized in British and American magazines in 1897.   The War of the Worlds has never been out of print and remains an important icon of science fiction writing.  Wells was inspired to write it after a discussion with his brother about the British colonization of Tasmania, comparing to a hypothetical takeover of Britain by Martians.  This book inspired Robert Goddard, the scientist who developed the rockets that eventually led to the American moon landing.

The War of the Worlds was also adapted as a radio broadcast episode of the American radio drama anthology series The Mercury Theatre on the Air narrated by actor and filmmaker Orson Welles. It was broadcast live as a Halloween episode at 8 p.m. on Sunday, October 30, 1938, over the radio. It became infamous for creating a panic among its listeners who had missed the introduction saying this was a radio drama and thought they were listening to real events.  There is dispute over how many people were affected by this as the show was not widely broadcast.  Here is a link to more information about the War of the Worlds radio broadcast:

The History of the Original Broadcast of The War of the Worlds

Original Broadcast of The War of the Worlds

Questions for The War of the Worlds

What techniques does the author use to create suspense and horror?  Did you find the book frightening?

What technology that the Martians possessed would have seemed most terrifying to the people of the time?

What is the aliens’ perception of humans, and how may that reflect the author’s views?

What did you find to be an important message of The War of the Worlds?

Did you perceive the book’s ending to be optimistic or pessimistic? Why?

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