Introduced by Iain Sinclair
Illustrated by Grahame Baker-Smith
Martian tripods, heat-rays and the terrible red weed … H. G. Wells’s classic story of alien invasion is full of iconic imagery, and Grahame Baker-Smith’s stirring illustrations capture all of the action.
A peaceful night in Surrey is shattered when what is thought to be a meteor crashes into Horsell Common. Curious villagers approach the strange cylindrical object, only to be incinerated by a Martian heat-ray. Soon the invaders are sending out their terrible ‘tripods’, causing devastation throughout England as ‘intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic’ gradually seek to eradicate the human race. Spawning an infamous radio play that convinced listeners a real alien invasion was in progress, a musical, several films, a television series and countless literary spin-offs, The War of the Worlds remains one of the most significant and influential works of science fiction.
‘A true classic that has pointed the way not just for science-fiction writers, but for how we as a civilisation might think of ourselves’
Described by Brian Aldiss as ‘the Shakespeare of science fiction’, Wells was a prolific writer across many forms. Having lived in Woking, he took great delight in setting much of the invasion at the centre of this book there, remarking in a letter how he could ‘completely wreck and sack Woking – killing my neighbours in painful and eccentric ways’. In his introduction, writer Iain Sinclair describes The War of the Worlds as a kind of ‘prophetic dream’ in which Wells, with his rivers choked with the alien ‘red weed’ and the deadly black smoke used by the Martians, seems to predict, among other things, chemical weapons and ecological disaster. Award-winning artist Grahame Baker-Smith has provided seven colour illustrations that embrace the sheer pulp joy of an alien invasion: Martian war-machines loom out of the night, surrounded by an unearthly glow, and the ornate gold-blocked binding design nods to the fantastical machines that have come to be associated with the author.
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