The War of the Worlds
The War of the Worlds--are observing through telescopes the spectacle of the collision of the comet and the moon and are preparing scientific papers on what they take to be the minor damage done to the earth. Wells's narrator then neatly upends homocentrist pretensions: "Which only shows how small the vastest human catastrophes may seem, at a distance of a few million miles."
Wells's perspectives on the contingency of civilization are not always extraterrestrial.
To the end of his life, Wells himself regarded the scientific romances as inconsequential. So did the critical establishment until Bernard Bergonzi, in his 1961 study The Early H. G. Wells: A Study of the Scientific Romances, argued to great effect that these works deserved to be ranked among the classics of the English language.
[Verne is acknowledged as one of the world's first and most imaginative modern science fiction writers. His works reflect nineteenth-century concerns with contemporary scientific innovation and its potential for human benefit or destruction. In the following excerpt from an interview with Gordon Jones, he commends the imaginative creativity with which Wells constructs his scientific fantasies and stresses the difference between Wells's style and his own.]
. In The War of the Worlds, again, a work for which I confess I have a great admiration, one is left entirely in the dark as to what kind of creatures the Martians really are, or in what manner they produce the wonderful heat ray with which they work such terrible havoc on their assailants.
[In saying this ], I am casting no disparagement on Mr. Wells' methods; on the contrary, I have the highest respect for his imaginative genius. I am merely contrasting our two styles and pointing out the fundamental difference which exists between them, and I wish you clearly to understand that I express no opinion on the superiority of either the one or the other....
[Woolf was an English novelist, essayist, and critic. Like her contemporary James Joyce, with whom she is often compared, she employed the stream-of-consciousness technique in many of her fictional works. Her critical essays, which cover almost the entire range of English literature, contain some of her finest prose and are praised for their insight. In the following excerpt from an essay originally published in the Times Literary Supplement in 1919, Woolf charges Wells with materialism.]
[Wells] had no illusions about himself as an author. He always insisted that he made no pretension to be an artist. That was, indeed, something he despised rather than admired, and when he spoke of Henry James, an old friend, who claimed, as I have hinted, perhaps a little too often that he was an artist and nothing else, it was good-humouredly to ridicule him. "I'm not an author," H. G. would say, "I'm a publicist. My work is just high-class journalism." On one occasion, after he had been staying...