Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger introduces Orwell’s masterpiece in this striking new edition.
The War of the Worlds
Illustrated by Grahame Baker-Smith
Introduced by Iain Sinclair
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’
Bound in blocked buckram
Set in Founder’s Caslon
Frontispiece and 6 colour illustrations
9½˝ x 6¾˝
‘The Shakespeare of science fiction’
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.
About H. G. Wells
Born in Bromley, Kent, in 1866, Herbert George Wells – known as Bertie – was a prolific writer and dedicated socialist, often called the ‘grandfather of science fiction’ for his influence on the genre. The son of a shopkeeper, Wells was briefly apprenticed to a draper before winning a scholarship to the Normal School of Science, where he would study under the famous biologist Thomas Henry Huxley. The Time Machine (1895) was the first of his enormously popular ‘scientific romances’, and he would go on to write many more influential works including The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), The War of the Worlds (1898), The First Men in the Moon (1901) and The War in the Air (1908). In the early twentieth century, his work became less about predicting the future and more about preserving the peace of the present, and he produced the manifestos The War That Will End War (1914), The Outline of History (1920) and The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind (1931). He died in August 1946, having lived to see the end of the Second World War.
About Graham Baker-Smith
Grahame Baker-Smith is a self-taught illustrator. He began to experiment with digital techniques, including Photoshop, several years ago, and now combines painting and drawing in traditional media with photographed and scanned textures, enjoying the control that digital methods give an artist over every aspect of the image. He has illustrated 16 books for The Folio Society, including Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne (2001), The Siege and Fall of Troy by Robert Graves (2005), Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi (2011) and The Time Machine & The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells (2019).