When massive, intelligent aliens from Mars touch down in Victorian England and threaten to destroy the civilized world, humanity's vaunted knowledge proves to be of little use. First published in 1898, H.G. Wells's masterpiece of speculative fiction has thrilled and delighted generations of readers, spawned countless imitations, and inspired dramatizations by such masters as Orson Welles and Steven Spielberg. "The War of the Worlds" is a fantasy that is both startlingly up-to-date and in touch with the most ancient of human fears.
In 1960, Edward Gorey prepared a set of his inimitable pen-and-ink drawings to illustrate a new edition of Wells's "The War of the Worlds" for the legendary Looking Glass Library. Characteristically quirky, elegant, and entrancing, Gorey's visual take on Wells's seminal tour de force has been unavailable for close to fifty years. This special hardcover edition from NYRB Classics brings back for today's readers a richly rewarding collaboration between two modern masters of all that's wonderful and strange.
About the Author
Often called the father of science fiction, British author Herbert George (H. G.) Wells literary works are notable for being some of the first titles of the science fiction genre, and include such famed titles as The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, The Island of Doctor Moreau, and The Invisible Man. Despite being fixedly associated with science fiction, Wells wrote extensively in other genres and on many subjects, including history, society and politics, and was heavily influenced by Darwinism. His first book, Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress Upon Human Life and Thought, offered predictions about what technology and society would look like in the year 2000, many of which have proven accurate. Wells went on to pen over fifty novels, numerous non-fiction books, and dozens of short stories. His legacy has had an overwhelming influence on science fiction, popular culture, and even on technological and scientific innovation. Wells died in 1946 at the age of 79.
Edward Gorey (1925 2000) is famous for the bounty of books he wrote
and illustrated, filling more than one hundred works with his unique
humor and distinctly crosshatched characters.
Rex Warner (1905--1986) was an author, translator, and professor of English. Born in Birmingham, England, he was educated at Oxford. Warner was a member of the British Home Guard from 1942 until 1945. He was the Tallman Professor of Classics at Bowdoin College before joining the English faculty at the University of Connecticut in 1962.
Edward Gorey (1925--2000) was born in Chicago. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, spent three years in the army testing poison gas, and attended Harvard College, where he majored in French literature and roomed with the poet Frank O'Hara. In 1953 Gorey published "The Unstrung Harp," the first of his many extraordinary illustrated books, which include "The Curious Sofa," "The Haunted Tea Cosy," and "The Epileptic Bicycle," NYRB published Gorey's illustrated edition of H. G. Wells's "The War of the Worlds" and "The Haunted Looking Glass," a selection of his favorite tales of ghosts, ghouls, and grisly goings-on.
"Since H. G. Wells published War of the Worlds in 1898, artists have struggled to depict his alien invaders. Perhaps none succeeded so well as the illustrator Edward Gorey…His wonderfully creepy 1960 edition eschews the Robby the Robot designs of pulp fiction, and the slickness of the bad 1953 film, instead delivering an insectlike infestation of pen-and-ink tendrils."
— New York Magazine
"The most delightful of the many editions of The War of the Worlds includes illustrations by Edward Gorey (originally published in 1960 and long out of print until now), in which those creatures look like giant mushrooms on spindly legs, primitive ancestors of the Spielberg tripods."
— Caryn James, The New York Times
"These illustrations perfectly depict not only Wells’s half-sinister, half-ridiculous Martians, but also the destruction they leave in their wake: 'a patch of silent common, smouldering in places, and with a few dark, dimly seen objects lying in contorted attitudes here and there', for example. How Gorey-esque."
—Joshua Glenn, The Boston Globe
"This novel was tailor-made for Gorey. His black-and-white etching-like drawing style makes the aliens (dainty but oppressive-looking hydras), landscapes and figures suitably spooky and Victorian. Which, of course, they were."
— Karen Krangle, The Vancouver Sun
"It was creepy when he wrote it back in 1898, and it’s creepy now. Re-released in a handsome new edition, The War of the Worlds, illustrated by the remarkable Edward Gorey, preys on our fears."
— Marc Horton, Edmonton Journal
"[War of the Worlds is] a perfect showcase for Gorey’s stark, unsettling work with its ominous shadings and eerie peculiarities…[and] Gorey’s work is true to the essence of Wells’ novel."
— The Chicago Tribune
"Edward Gorey’s wonderful 1960 pen-and-ink illustrations can be seen again in the elegant…hardcover edition from New York Review Books."
— The Los Angeles Times