Friday, April 25, 2014

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse: April 2014

Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month.  Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.  If you wish to add your own review to the conversation, please sign on to the link list at the end of my post.

Title: The War of the Worlds
Author: H.G. Wells

via Wikipedia
No exploration of early science fiction would be complete without H.G. Wells's The War of the Worlds.   The story also provides the driving narrative for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume II (review here), thus my own interest.  It is one of the earliest books to explore the possibility of encounter between humans and extraterrestrials.  Probes from Mars land on Earth, at first inspiring great and understandable curiosity among the people of southern England.  Once the dire threat of the destructive invaders becomes apparent, the race is on to get the heck out of Dodge. 

Knowing the place of this work in the canon of scifi literature, I was expecting more material about the aliens themselves.  However, most of the story is about the mass exodus to get out of harm's way.  In fact, I was reminded more of The Walking Dead than close encounter tales.  Wells anticipates not only the post-apocalyptic literature to come but also the devastating impact of the very real human wars which would dominate the 20th century and beyond.

In both this book and The Invisible Man (review here), Wells displays a fascination with the dissemination of information.  In the newspaper age, accurate news of the invasion takes significant time to get from one part of England to another.  As such, residents of London, for instance, are caught off-guard by the severity of the situation.  The story is less satirical than The Invisible Man but the dark humor is still there as Wells pokes fun at his fellow Englishmen.  Perhaps not surprisingly for the Victorian Era, the narrator - and through him, the author - comes off as quite a snob.

While I'm glad to have read the book, I'm not in any hurry to read more Wells.  I've covered his Big Four: The Invisible Man, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds.  The rest can wait.

Please join us and share your own review of your best read from the past month.  This month's link list is below.  I'll keep it open until the end of the day.  I'll post May's tomorrow.  Meetings are the last Friday of each month.  Next gathering is May 30th.


32 comments:

  1. I remember reading this as a kid - slow moving and creepy. Definitely made me scared to go to sleep. Not in any hurry to reread. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. It is slow. 19th century writers often seem fascinated by details that I am not.

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  2. I might give this one a go. I liked THE INVISIBLE MAN and I'm always up for an out-of-genre read to refresh my brain. Thanks for the review!

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    1. I hope you will and let me know what you think.

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  3. I haven't read the book but have heard various versions and, of course, the evocative music by Jeff Wayne.

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    1. I don't know the Jeff Wayne version. I may need to check that out.

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  4. This was an Audible daily deal not too long ago so I picked it up; haven't got to it yet. What was it that made you hesitant to pick up another Wells? Is it just ponderous, in the way that old books sometimes are?

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    1. It is a bit ponderous. The ideas are more engaging than the storytelling itself. I wouldn't be opposed to reading more of his books, just not in any hurry to seek them out.

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  5. I haven't read it, but you've got me wanting to now. Thanks!
    Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com

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  6. I remember really enjoying the book as a teenager, but I think I should probably re-read it at some point.

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    1. I hope you will. Let me know what you think.

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  7. I like some of Wells books, but I don't think is his best.

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    1. Did you review this one yourself recently? I did a quick search on your blog but didn't see it. Maybe I'm thinking of something else. Martian Chronicles, perhaps?

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  8. I'd say you've given Wells a pretty fair shake!

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    1. Yes. I think I've earned the merit badge.

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  9. I read Invisible Man, but not War of the World's yet. He is an interesting writer and puts a lot of thought in his books.

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    1. Yes, the ideas are fascinating. I think this particular book has had more of an impact on the post-apocalypse genre than the alien encounter genre.

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  10. Never read this one (just Time Machine from Wells), but I do remember listening to the whole Orson Welles radio play once. It never occurred to me before, but I wonder if their nearly identical surnames was what got Orson interested in it initially!

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    1. That is a funny coincidence. The Orson Welles play has to be one of the greatest moments in the history of mass media.

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  11. I tried to read this novel once and found it too slow to continue (like Steph says, it suffers from "old novel syndrome" :)). Having said this, I think the story is interesting (I watched the film). One thing I like about this genre is when things are left a little to the audience's imagination. I find it scarier that way.

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    1. It is, however, short. So if one can handle the slog, it doesn't last too long.

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  12. I've read this book. (I think it's the only one I've actually finished of Wells'.) What I would like to see is a movie done exactly during the original time period with the use of technology and information that's portrayed in the story. That's what I found fascinating about it. I'm sure many of us have seen the big blockbuster Tom Cruise version and maybe the older films as well, but I think what's missing is Wells' time period! The idea of something like this happening in the late 1800s would have been frightening!

    One other thing. I didn't care for the fact that the MC didn't have a name. It drove me absolutely crazy!

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    1. A period piece - I like that. That's part of why Alan Moore's comic book interpretation works. I'd want them to maintain what there is of humor in the story, too.

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  13. Agree with Mary- an 1800s version would be superb. My son has a fabulously dated radio play version on CD, bought by mistake and listened to for comedic pleasure many years later. Apologies for not having my review posted yet- totally lost track of time! On my list for tomorrow- or soon after!! But fingers crossed for tomorrow!!

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    1. Not a problem. I'm a bit late making the rounds myself.

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  14. I haven't read this yet but it's been on my TBR list for years.

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    1. I hope you will and let me know what you think.

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  15. I have read a few of the Wells books, but not enough!

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  16. I reviewed this in this month's post as well, but for the A to Z, not Cephalopod. :) I loved this book, actually, but it's the first of Wells's that I've read. I look forward to reading more.

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    1. A-Z kept a lot of folks busy. Glad you're back for May!

      I would go with Invisible Man next - not that it's necessarily better than the other two but the tone is more similar to War of the Worlds. So, if you liked that one, I'd expect you'd like a lot of the same things about IM.

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