Show Book List  | More books by H G Wells


H G Wells

The war in the air

When I started reading this book, I was rather surprised not to find any film version of the story. There is plenty of action with the smuggling of secret plans, followed by a large scale aerial attack on the USA. If the book had continued in this vein, with initial setbacks but eventual victory over the aggression (and perhaps the setting up of a better world order as in Wells' other books) then it would definitely have been material for the cinema, especially with monorails, that epitome of modernity, everywhere. However, the war doesn't go that way, instead we hear about the struggles of the hero, Bert Smallways (who has been mostly a spectator in the first part of the book), in a post-apocalyptic world. Since we've had plenty of exposure to this sort of idea nowadays it felt a bit of a letdown.

However, the book does give a fascinating portrayal of an 'alternative history', and of Wells' worries about the future. He foresaw the likelyhood of 'total war' and the importance of air superiority in future conflicts. One feels that he rather overdid the collapse of society - we're somewhat used to the idea following a nuclear war, but his explosives weren't that much more powerful than those available when the book was written in 1908. Overall I would say that it is definitely worth reading if you are interested in the changing ideas of progress and conflict, but not for the story itself.

Product Description
A cornerstone of early science fiction and a haunting image of world war

Following the development of massive airships, naïve Londoner Bert Smallways becomes accidentally involved in a German plot to invade America by air and reduce New York to rubble. But although bombers devastate the city, they cannot overwhelm the country, and their attack leads not to victory but to the beginning of a new and horrific age for humanity. And so dawns the era of Total War, in which brutal aerial bombardments reduce the great cultures of the twentieth century to nothing. As civilization collapses around the Englishman, now stranded in a ruined America, he clings to only one hope - that he might return to London, and marry the woman he loves.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews