So, I Read War of The Worlds
At one time in my life, I was fairly oblivious to Science Fiction. It is hard to imagine it now. I didn't dislike the genre. I had nothing against it. I liked Star Wars and Star Trek in about the same ambivalent way that most of the world’s occupants do. Hunger Games caught my attention for the extended moment it hovered in the world’s view and I dabbled in a few of the imitators that tripped along afterward.
It wasn’t until I started writing my own Sci-Fi novel, mostly on my husband’s insistence, that I realized that so many of the stories I loved most fell neatly into a Sci-Fi Subgenre. Still, I have a hard time deviating from my Classic novels. It was a lucky thing that I stumbled across Well’s Classic Sci-Fi “War of the Worlds”.
In modern times, this book and its recent adaptations, have been met with more than a fair amount of scorn. It does lack most of what makes a modern adventure work, the biggest being the lack of any real structure. Search as you might, you will not find a climax in that book. The other problem is the lack of impact of the main character. Our first person narrator, who never does get a name, does little else than observe and occasionally, escape.
So, does it deserve the vitriol that has been leveled at it? After all, it is a classic. Who is to argue with the quality of something that has so impacted time and culture? H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, and Hugo Gernsback are some of the earliest authors in genuine Science fiction. They balanced on a thin line between the literary fiction that once defined the written word and the ever growing genre fiction. As such, while Well’s topic was obviously Genre fiction, his style was still Literary. While the plot and structure are not anything bold or brilliant by today’s standards, the skill of the actual prose is unparalleled.
Books give us a chance that we don't often get in this world. Through books, we can genuinely "walk in someone else's shoes". Literature teaches empathy because we are forced to ask ourselves what we would do in that situation. Just like reading a work like War of the Worlds will only have an impact if we allow ourselves to step into the mindset of the time, we are often forced to take a look from a different viewpoint in life. Books, even those that are hard to understand at first, are great practice. So here is my suggestion: pick up War of the Worlds and settle yourself into a mindset of someone many years ago, and let the emotions seep in.
Are there any unpopular books, or commonly criticized stories that you love? If so, which ones?