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Paperback War in the Air Paperback H.G. WELLS Book

ISBN: 0140003436

ISBN13: 9780140003437

War in the Air Paperback H.G. WELLS

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This description may be from another edition of this product. A cornerstone of early science fiction and a haunting image of world war Following the development of massive airships, na ve Londoner Bert Smallways becomes accidentally involved in a German plot to...

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The century of total war

Written in 1908, Wells predicted warfare as we know it now. He foresaw pushbutton wars, "cold-blooded slaughters ... in which men who were neither excited nor ... in any danger, poured death and destruction on homes and crowds..." Paradoxically, Wells also predicted it to be "a universal guerilla war, a war involving civilians and homes and all the apparatus of social life." He predicted weapons "ineffectual for any large expedition or conclusive attack, [but] horribly convenient for guerilla warfare, rapidly and cheaply made, easily used, easily hidden." Specifics of the story needed to be credible to Wells's 1908 reader, but major points could have been drawn from today's headlines. Wells's war encircled the globe, years before WWI showed how widespread a war could become. Rather than narrate global destruction, though, Wells told his story through the viewpoint of Bert Smallways, an everyman of modest means, achievement, and intellect. In fact, Bert's only real skill was a knack for being in the wrong place when world-shattering events came to pass. Starting from his bicycle shop in England, Bert's involuntary travels made him witness to the destruction of whole blocks and rows of blocks in New York City, then to the rise of Eastern armies that over-ran the Western world. Then, somehow, he made it back to his sleepy village to settle into a post-war agrarian life without technology - easy enough, since the village had slept through the technology of the time anyway. Despite the zeppelins used as warcraft, Wells's forecasts hit the bullseye of many targets. He predicted the worldwide caches of hidden weaponry, not too far from what we saw in the Cold War. He also predicted the bafflement of the common civilian, who really just wanted to settle down with a spouse, a house, and food on the table. Headlines aside, that's still the case today. -- wiredweird

Wonderfully forward-thinking, but somewhat bloated

Bert Smallways is a rather backward sort, trying (but not too hard) to make a living in England, and watching the advance of technology. But, technology is moving on in directions that he might never have guessed. With the advent of the airship, a secret arms race has broken out among the world's powers, and a new type of war is about to break out. When Bert is accidentally scooped up by a German fleet, on its way to launch a surprise attack on the United states, he finds himself with a front row seat to the greatest war that has ever been - the war in the air! This new war is to be a different sort of war than all the wars that came before it, unprecedented in its ferocity and destructiveness. When everything can be smashed, what will be left? A good deal less than you might hope. This now largely forgotten work was written by H.G. Wells (1866-1946) in 1907, and is a masterpiece of forward thinking. While Wells missed the true course of the development of military aviation, his grasp of what a major war, involving fleets of aircraft, would mean was spot on. In fact, this book is quite spooky in its prediction of the destruction of cities and modern infrastructure, and in its portrayal of fleets of warships destroyed from the air! As a prediction of the future, this book is nothing short of amazing. Well, if the book is so good, why is it now forgotten? In fact, while Wells' portrayal of aerial warfare is right on target, the book, as a novel, is not as good as it should be. The story starts out quite slowly, wasting too much time on the development of the character of Bert Smallways. And, there are many places throughout the narrative where the book could have benefited from some pruning and tightening of the narrative. So, if you are a fan of H.G. Wells, or are interested in how correct a man of 1907 could have been about modern warfare, then this is the book for you. However, if you are looking for a good science-fiction story, you might be disappointed. Overall, I found this to be an interesting story, one that I am glad that I read. It's almost frightening how close to reality Mr. Wells was. I just wish that he had had a better editor.

Stunning, disturbing prophecy

H.G. Wells-what a genius. He foresaw the future better than any supposed "psychic." This novel, little known but available again, is the proof.In the early 20th century, the invention of aerial vehicles precipitates the outbreak of a worldwide war that had brewed for hundreds of years. The aircrafts' ability to wreck unlimited destruction lays waste to civilization, reducing it to pre-Industrial revolution levels. That is the basis of this incredible piece of political and scientific prophesy. Wells unleashes his full understanding of human "progress" and the fraility of political systems, and with every page hits truths about war and technology even more applicable today than during World War I, the combat that Wells envisioned here. He even saw 9/11 and the Iraq War, pegging Western European complaceny so accurately that I felt my jaw drop to the floor on a few occasions. Honestly, this H. G. guy was one in a billion. He was utterly, incalculably brilliant. He was also a helluva writer, expressing ideas with flashes of humor, irony, and passion. Wells uses a countryside Englishman as witness to the fall of civilization, and manages to effortlessly switch between the epic canvas of war and the cameo portrait of a normal man seeing everything he ever understood about the world fray apart before his eyes. In a terrific last stroke, Wells writes the final chapter that sums up the possibility that "progess" may be an illusion. This novel deserves to be considered amongst Wells finest, and this new edition with Duncan's insightful introduction, may be the firest step in getting it the wide audience it deserves.

H.G.Wells is a great author...

First, before anything else, he links us to a character, a man named Bert Smallways, who we will follow and this allows us to see what is happening from the view of a normal man within the book. The first few chapters in fact deal only with Bert, pushing much of the major events into the background, suggested by news headlines that nobody seems to notice.But when wars come it comes with a bam. The Earth's weapons seem to be bomb carrying airships and gun carrying airplanes.The airships seem to be the major weapon, becoming the terrors of the sky, huge monster craft that carry death to the cities of Earth.Why airships? The book was published in 1907. While airplanes were just being invented and designs played with, blimps and dirigibles were already flying about in good numbers. By the time World War One cames about, German airships are bombing London. Airplanes started off during the Great War totally unarmed, used for scouting out enemy movements and checking out the landscape. So, for him to suggest that airships would become the wave of the future in combat is not a great leap of logic.One scene has German airplanes and airships destroying an American fleet of warships, a chilling vision of things to come.As each nation designs and builds it own aircraft things get out of hand. While the air fleets can bomb the cities, they can't TAKE them (not being able to carry any troops) and they can't DEFEND them (as they carry many bombs, but few weapons to fight other aircraft), so soon the world is nothing but burnt out buildings and thousands of airships attacking anything on the ground that even LOOKS dangerous.Will Bert survive? Will he get back to England? Will mankind ever learn to live together?


"The War of the Worlds" wasn't the only masterpiece that H.G. Wells wrote with the words "The War" in the title. "The War in the Air," which came out 10 years later, in 1908, is surely a lesser-known title by this great author, but most certainly, in my humble opinion, a masterpiece nonetheless. In this prophetic book, Wells not only predicts World War I--which wouldn't start for another six years--but also prophesies how the advent of navigable balloons and heavier-than-air flying craft would make that war inevitable. Mind you, this book was written in 1907, only four years after the Wright Brothers' historic flights at Kitty Hawk, and two years BEFORE their airplane design was sold to the U.S. Army for military purposes. In "The War in the Air," Wells also foresees air battles, as well as engagements between naval and aerial armadas. His gift of peering into the future is at times uncanny. We see this worldwide war through the eyes of Bert Smallways, a not terribly bright Cockney Everyman who is accidentally whisked away in a balloon and lands in Germany right on the eve of that country's departure for war. Bert is brought on board one of the German airships, and so personally witnesses a titanic battle in the North Atlantic; the Battle of New York (in which the length of Broadway is destroyed and many buildings near downtown City Hall Park are levelled, looooong before 9/11); and the huge fight between the German and Asiatic forces over Niagara Falls. And these are just the start of Smallways' adventures. Wells throws quite a bit into this wonderful tale, and the detail, pace and characterizations are all marvelous. But this isn't just an entertaining piece of futuristic fiction; it's a highly moral one as well. The author, in several beautifully written passages, tells us of the terrible waste of war, and the horrors that it always entails. In this aspect, it would seem to be a more important work of fiction than even "The War of the Worlds." While that earlier work might be more seminal, this latter tale certainly raises more pressing issues. And those issues are just as worrisome today as they were nearly a century ago. In his preface to the 1941 edition of this book, Wells wrote: "I told you so. You damned fools..." As well he might! And it would seem that we STILL haven't learned the lessons that Wells tried to teach us so many years ago. Perhaps, at this point, I should mention that readers of this novel will be faced with many geographical, historical and vocabulary/slang terms that they may not be familiar with. If those readers are like me, they will take the time to research all those obscure terms; it will make for a richer reading experience, as always. I said before that this novel is a masterpiece, and yet, at the same time, it is not perfect. Wells does make some small booboos in prediction, for example. Zeppelins were not more important than airplanes in war; civilization did not collapse after World War I. He tells us

The War in the Air Mentions in Our Blog

The War in the Air in The (Surprisingly) Powerful Influence of H.G. Wells on Modern Day America
The (Surprisingly) Powerful Influence of H.G. Wells on Modern Day America
Published by Beth Clark • September 21, 2018

A hundred years ago, novelist H.G. Wells predicted that science would be "king of the world." Titanic's Jack Dawson may take issue with that claim, but he’d have a tough time disputing the compelling influence Wells had on politics, society, and the future that extended far beyond the literary realm. Considering Wells is one the founding fathers of sci-fi (along with Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs) and the author of The Time Machine, The Invisible man, The Island of Dr. Moreau, and The War of the Worlds, that's saying something.

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