Source: LibriVox (zipped mp3s or M4B ipod audiobook)
Length: 6 hr, 35 min
The book: The basic plot of War of the Worlds was already familiar to me before I read it, though muddled by my hearing a rebroadcast of Orson Welles adaptation. In the book, a giant projectile from Mars lands in south England. Other projectiles follow the first, and soon, Martians in their tripod fighting machines are conquering the human populace. Wells thrusts the reader into the terror and confusion of war by narrating an eyewitness account of battles and the civilian panic. With the hindsight of history, we can recognize that Wells accurately predicted the horror of World War I gas attacks, the ruined landscape of the Blitz, and the dazed fear of 9/11.
The key to understanding War of the Worlds is not in Wells predicting the future, but in his description of his present. In 1898, the British Empire was at the height of its power, with colonies spanning the globe. The Victorians placed great hope in ideals like progress, science, and eugenics to make their lives better. Wells introduces into this world aliens who are more scientifically advanced and more highly evolved for using technology. He then flips the table on the complacent British by having these aliens conquer them, just as they had conquered others. I wonder: If Wells were alive today, what would he make his aliens look like and what would they do to our world?
Rating: 7 / 10
The reader: Although the name listed is Rebecca, the voice sounds rather masculine. Whatever the case may be, the refined English accent is well-suited to the character of the book's narrator-protagonist. The other character's voices are equally enjoyable, with my favorite being the artilleryman. The reader makes a few stumbles and there are some faint background sounds, but not anywhere near enough to interfere with this altogether wonderful reading.