About the Book of Honor:
The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
Why The War of the Worlds?
Because 1998 is the centenary of the publication of this extraordinarily influential SF novel, and centenaries are fun;
Because it's still being read today (some ten editions in print!), and still influencing the field, in everything from the Global Dispatches spinoffs through Mars Attacks and more;
Because it lends itself to discussion from a variety of viewpoints: the sociological (why did the species automatically fight?), the real-world scientific (how is Pathfinder changing our views of Mars yet again?), the hard SFnal (was the ending an early example of biological warfare?), the state of the field (why are so many big novels and award-winners about Mars?), and of course, the political (what and who is not in this book?)
Take a look at the program notes on the Book of Honor panel that we held.
The War of the Worlds Reading List
compiled by David Bratman,
with help from Art Widner and Brad Lyau
Editions of The War of the Worlds
Many editions of the book are in print, including inexpensive paperbacks from Tor, Signet, and others. Editions with something extra include:
The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds: A Critical Edition, edited by Frank D. McConnell. Oxford University Press, 1977. Includes essays on background and criticism, including two by Wells, and others on "The Spirit of Wells".
A Critical Edition of The War of the Worlds, edited by David Y. Hughes and Harry M. Geduld. Indiana University Press, 1993. Includes maps, vast annotations, several essays by Wells and much information on media adaptations. A cut-down version of this text, without the essays and annotations, but with a new introduction by Brian Aldiss, came out from Oxford University Press in paperback in 1995.
The War of the Worlds has been put into electronic form by the Gutenberg Project. Numerous copies are available online. Here are links to a
plain text file and an HTML file.
A page of links to Web, hypercard, and downloadable (ftp, gopher, etc.) texts is also available.
Critical material on H.G. Wells
There are many biographical and critical studies of Wells. Some of the most useful for a reader of The War of the Worlds are:
Bergonzi, Bernard. The Early H.G. Wells. University of Toronto Press, 1961. A basic study of the "scientific romances," useful but with a tendency to grand theorizing.
Huntington, John. The Logic of Fantasy: H.G. Wells and Science Fiction. Columbia University Press, 1982.
Koch, Howard. The Panic Broadcast. Avon, 1970. The complete script of the Orson Welles/Mercury Theatre dramatization, with newspaper reports on the panic.
McConnell, Frank D. The Science Fiction of H.G. Wells. Oxford University Press, 1981.
Scheick, William J., and Cox, J. Randolph. H.G. Wells: A Reference Guide.
G.K. Hall, 1988. An extensive bibliography of secondary materials, with a brief complete list of Wells' books.
Smith, David C. H.G. Wells: Desperately Mortal. Yale University Press, 1986. A great biography.
Wagar, W. Warren. H.G. Wells and the World State. Yale University Press, 1961. One of the first American academic treatments of Wells. Wagar also wrote a few SF stories, and is noted for his studies of fictional future societies.
Williamson, Jack. H.G. Wells: Critic of Progress. Mirage Press, 1973. This is essentially Williamson's Ph.D. thesis. A valuable perspective from a fellow SF writer.
The World Wide Web can't yet match printed books in depth, though it can in sheer numbers. The most interesting relevant sites I've found are:
The Complete War of the Worlds. Discusses the original and many adaptations, and posits a conspiracy theory of real-life alien invasions. Good links.
Brians, Paul. Study Guide for H.G. Wells: The War of the Worlds (1898). Short chapter-by-chapter commentary by a Washington State University professor.
The War of the Worlds: Home Page. Many newspaper clippings on the centenary celebrations in Woking.
Wayne, Jeff. Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds. Publicity site for the 1978 musical, now available on CD.
Handlist of H.G. Wells' Science Fiction
Includes his "scientific romances" and utopias at book-length. His short stories (not listed) are available in various collections. For that matter, many of the novels may be found in omnibus editions.
The Time Machine (1895)
The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896)
The Invisible Man (1897)
The War of the Worlds (1898)
When the Sleeper Wakes (1899)
A Story of the Days to Come (1899 - novella)
The First Men in the Moon (1900)
The Food of the Gods (1904)
A Modern Utopia (1905)
In the Days of the Comet (1906)
The War in the Air (1908)
The World Set Free (1914)
Men Like Gods (1923)
The Shape of Things To Come (1933)