London: William Heinemann, 1898. First Edition of One of the Most Enduring Science Fiction Novels in the English LanguageWELLS, H.G. The War of the Worlds. London: William Heinemann, 1898.First edition, with state B thirty-two page publisher's catalogue. Octavo (7 7/16 x 5 1/16 inches; 189 x 194 mm.). viii, 303, [1, blank], 32 pp. publisher's catalogue headed "Illumination". Publisher's gray cloth lettered in black on front cover and spine. Publisher's mark in black on back cover. Small, very slightly lighter area at top of spine, minimal rubbing of color at foot of spine, bare minimum of foxing to the top edge only. Still one of the finest copies we have ever seen, the end-papers clean and fresh, the black lettering fresh and sharp, the inner joints absolutely untouched.This story was the touchstone for Orson Welles' classic radio show about the invasion of the Martians. At 8:00 pm. on the evening of Sunday October 30th, 1938 the world was scared out of its wits. Millions of Americans had their radios turned on. But most of these Americans were listening to ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his dummy "Charlie McCarthy" on NBC and only turned to CBS at 8:12 p.m. after the comedy sketch ended and a little-known singer went on. By then, the story of the Martian invasion was well underway - the listeners really believed that Earth was being invaded by the Martians…"Occurs with and without an inserted publisher's catalogue. Two states of inserted publisher's catalogue at rear, priority as listed: (A) 16 pages; dated Autumn mdcccxcvii. (B) 32 pages; page  headed ILLUMINATION." (L. W. Currey)."…The War of the Worlds depends more on political than scientific premises for its power… what animates War of the Worlds is use of a scientific premise - the possibility of an encounter with a more technologically advanced civilization - to create a fundamental shift in political perspective whereby readers are shown what it is like to be on the receiving end of an imperial enterprise. We are made to see for a change how it would feel if they did it to us… any self-righteous impulse to condemn the Martians is countered by reminders of European wars of extermination against Tasmanian and other natives" (Alkon, Paul K. Science Fiction Before 1900, p. 47-48)."Wells recounted the genesis of his story several times: He was walking with his brother Frank in the Surrey countryside when the conversation turned to the Aborigine inhabitants of Tasmania, south of Australia, who were eradicated when the English transformed the island into a prison colony. What if some beings from another planet suddenly dropped from the sky, his brother wondered, and did the same to England?" (Kowinski, Wm. S. San Francisco Chronicle, June 5, 2005).Its contemporary political subtext aside - and now all but forgotten - the enduring popularity of The War of the Worlds rests with it being a ripping good yarn, a scare the bejesus out of us story, and, perhaps, a post-modern cautionary tale about the overuse of antibiotics: without the earthly bacteria that ultimately destroyed them, we'd have all been entrees a la carte on the Martians' banquet table.Hammond B5; Currey p. 526; Wells 14.
(Inventory #: 04050)
English, American and European Literature, Children's Books, Color-Plate Books, Illustrated Books, Early Printed Books, Private Press Books, Fine Bindings, Original Artwork, High Spot Modern First Editions.
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