Monday, November 5, 2012

Aimless Reading: The W's, Part 12.1 (H.G. Wells)

The War of the Worlds
Wells, H.G.
The War of the Worlds

Purchased at Talking Leaves Books.

I bought this towards the end of grad school, or possibly just after I left. I was poking around in the book store one day, towards the rear, where they used to sell all the course books. Teachers would send their lists to the book store to be processed. Students used to be able to browse through the stacks by course number, conveniently locating all the books for each class in the same place. I used to browse through there pretty regularly in search of books that seemed interesting.

One autumn, the autumn of '04, according to the sticker on the back, Jonathan Skinner taught a course in Science Fiction at UB. As I was browsing through the stacks I happened upon Jonathan's course list. My first thought was surprise, because I hadn't known Jonathan to have any particular interest in sci-fi. My second thought was curiosity, as I had't read much myself. It looked like a good primer, so I decided to buy the whole set.

If I recall correctly, I bought this, Solaris by Stanslaw Lem, Dawn by Octavia Butler, Nova by Samuel R. Delany, The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. le Guin, &  Ubik by Philip K. Dick. That's all I can remember. I read Ubik first, and then spent the whole winter reading Philip K. Dick books. I've since read through most of the books on the list, except for this one and the LeGuin book, and I have become a fairly avid reader of science fiction. My latest interests are Kim Stanley Robinson & China Miéville.

from The War of the Worlds

No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.

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