The War Of The Worlds Essay Research — страница 3

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category are The Time Machine, The Island of Dr. Moreau, When the Sleeper Wakes, “A Story of the Days To Come,” and The First Men in the Moon…. SOURCE: Patrick Parrinder, “Utopia and Meta-Utopia in H. G. Wells,” in Science-Fiction Studies, Vol. 12, No. 36, July, 1985, pp. 115-28. SYNOPSIS: [In the following excerpt, Parrinder discusses some elements central to Well's fictional portrayals of utopian or paradisiacal societies.] ARTICLE: In his Experiment in Autobiography Wells includes an apologetic discussion of his dealings with the novel, based on material first assembled together in a folder labelled “Whether I am a Novelist.” I should like to believe that somewhere among his papers one might be able to find a comparable folder labelled “Whether I am a

Utopian.” For though in his lifetime the “Wellsian Utopia” was almost as famous as Freudian psychology or Platonic love, in retrospect Wells’s relationship to the utopian mode seems uneasy and paradoxical. He was a major propagandist for utopian ideas who never produced a major utopian book. A Modern Utopia (1905) is the nearest thing in his oeuvre to that book, but it has failed to achieve canonical status either within the utopian genre or within Wells’s own corpus; that is, it has been overshadowed by rival utopias such as News from Nowhere and Looking Backward on the one hand, and by The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, Tono-Bungay, The History of Mr Polly, A Short History of the World, and Experiment in Autobiography on the other. . The Martians in The War of

the Worlds start fires by means of the Heat-Ray. Mr Polly sets his own house on fire. Everything had suddenly become very still. Far away to the southeast, marking the quiet, we heard the Martians hooting to one another, and then the air quivered again with the distant thud of their guns. But the earthly artillery made no reply. Now at the time we could not understand these things, but later I was to learn the meaning of these ominous kopjes that gathered in the twilight. Each of the Martians, standing in the great crescent I have described, had discharged … a huge canister over whatever hill, copse, cluster of houses, or other possible cover for guns, chanced to be in front of him. … These canisters smashed on striking the ground -they did not explode – and incontinently

disengaged an enormous volume of heavy, inky vapour, coiling and pouring upward in a huge and ebony cumulus cloud, a gaseous hill that sank and spread itself slowly over the surrounding country. And the touch of that vapour, the inhaling of its pungent wisps, was death to all that breathes. It was heavy, this vapour, heavier than the densest smoke, so that, after the first tumultuous uprush and outflow of its impact, it sank down through the air and poured over the ground in a manner rather liquid than gaseous, abandoning the hills, and streaming into the valleys and ditches and watercourses even as I have heard the carbonic-acid gas that pours from volcanic clefts is wont to do. And where it came upon water some chemical action occurred, and the surface would be instantly

covered with a powdery scum that sank slowly and made way for more. The scum was absolutely insoluble, and it is a strange thing, seeing the instant effect of the gas, that one could drink without hurt the water from which it had been strained. The vapour did not diffuse as a true gas would do. It hung together in banks, flowing sluggishly down the slope of the land and driving reluctantly before the wind, and very slowly it combined with the mist and moisture of the air, and sank to the earth in the form of dust. Save that an unknown element giving a group of four lines in the blue of the spectrum is concerned, we are still entirely ignorant of the nature of this substance. Once the tumultuous upheaval of its dispersion was over, the black smoke clung so closely to the ground,

even before its precipitation, that fifty feet up in the air, on the roofs and upper stories of high houses and on great trees, there was a chance of escaping its poison altogether, as was proved even that night at Street Cobham and Ditton. The man who escaped at the former place tells a wonderful story of the strangeness of its coiling flow, and how he looked down from the church spire and saw the houses of the village rising like ghosts out of its inky nothingness. For a day and a half he remained there, weary, starving and sun-scorched, the earth under the blue sky and against the prospect of the distant hills a velvet-black expanse, with red roofs, green trees, and, later, black-veiled shrubs and gates, barns, out- houses, and walls, rising here and there into the sunlight.