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H.G.Wells' "War Of The World" In Retrospect To The Science Fiction Gen

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Attacks from Martians, time travel, interplanetary travel and the impossible are possible within the realm of science fiction. The literary genre of science fiction houses some of the greatest pieces of literature of all time, by some of the greatest authors. Regarded among colleagues as one of the finest is the inspirational, ingenious and influential writer H. G. Wells. Being the author of such classics as The Time Machine, The Island Of Dr Moreau and The Invisible Man H. G. Wells is considered the father and primary developer of science fiction. A title Wells was catapulted into with the publication of the 1898 science fiction classic, The War Of The Worlds.

It was this new style of story, that would bring about and create this brand new, exciting and often educational form of literature. It is The War Of The Worlds that really epitomises what science fiction is and what it should be. The enchanting but gruesome tale of Martian invasion became the beginning of the modern science fiction story and was the first ever story about life on other planets attacking the human race (a now very popular theme). Although this exclusive, appreciated and amusing style of writing was graced with instant success in its current form, it too, like any other style of writing changed with the times. Unfortunately the new variation was a change for the worse.

For many people nowadays science fiction or Sci-Fi as the media miscall it means movies. It means Star Wars and E.T. For others it signifies television shows or radio series, constantly broadcast in people's homes perpetuating this common misconception. What many do not realise however is that science fiction as a genre of literature is an ancient art, one which is in mass quantity but lacking in the calibre of it predecessors. The dramatic influx of popular fiction and low quality novels illustrating a minor similarity to the genre of science fiction is diluting the quality with this genre.

The main problem lies within the fairly open and murky definitional criteria. There are no set, distinct guidelines as to what science fiction is and what is not; however most definitions seem to revolve around the idea that science is reality, and how that science effects the reality it is in. It is meant to illustrate the relationship between cause and effect representing a society in chaos, disturbed by the scientific matter, which may or may not be based in fact. This longwinded explanation may seem complex but what it is really saying is that science fiction is meant to illustrate the effect of the improbable (within scientific plausibility) against the setting it is in. It studies the resulting events that did not happen, may have happened, or have not happened yet from a rational perspective, mostly interested in the impact on the people involved. Science fiction is a form of fantastic fiction which exploits the imaginative, and profound perspectives of modern science. It differs from the fantasy genre to which it is commonly compared as it is meant to respect the limits of scientific possibility.

This, however, is not a new form of writing inspired by dramatic scientific developments, but in fact it has been utilised since ancient times. Early works of the Babylonian era, such as Gilgmesh Epic of around 2000 BC also dealt with the search for ultimate knowledge and immortality. It was not the only scientifically founded work of ancient times, the Greek myths of Daedalus and the 160 AD story True History also dealt with scientific and mechanical issues along this tangent. As time passed more and more stories addressed the advanced, scientific points and arguments on various issues in an amusing manner. Soon, because of the authors need for scientific knowledge science fiction became the entertainment and practice of the intellectual with many classics being written by the great minds of their respective time. British prelate and historian Francis Godwin as well as the highly regarded German astronomer Johannes Kepler, among others tried their hand at this refined art. It was not however until the mid 1800's that the world's first specialist in science fiction came to prominence. His name was Jules Verne, and the French author revived science fiction from a 100 year lull of excellence. Inspired by the first modern science fiction novel, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Jules Verne put science fiction back into plenitude within literary circles. His many classics such as Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and From The Earth To The Moon were the beginning of a new era in science fiction and indeed fiction altogether. It was also around this time that perhaps the worlds greatest author of science fiction began writing, H.G. Wells. Although he did not create the genre he is viewed as the father of science fiction for he extensively developed and expanded this style of writing through his exciting stories. Conceivably his best novel and undoubtedly one of the major developers of the science fiction genre is his action master piece The War Of The Worlds.

As well as being the first and major developer of the science fiction genre, H. G. Wells' The War Of The Worlds was also the creator of the minor sub-genre of science fiction, epic science fiction. The only difference between the genre of science fiction and it's epic counterpart is that epic science fiction stories have a possible result on a major scale, one that effects the whole world rather than an isolated area.

If The War Of The Worlds is indeed the major developer of modern science fiction and the creator of epic science fiction it must therefore belong to each these categories. By studying the text in terms of it's genre we can determine if it does belong under those titles. To do this we must examine how it fits into each of the identifying criteria of the epic-science fiction genre which may be summarised as: it must involve or have a result that will effect the entire world, it must maintain scientific matter -eg. aliens, space travel, time travel etc.-, it must show the changes in the society and/or people as the result of the introduced scientific matter, it may be based loosely in the fact of the time and must represent a society in chaos (which brings about the change in society) as a result of the scientific subject.

For any science fiction story to be "epic" it must "involve or have a result that effects the entire world", this is undeniably the case in The War Of The Worlds. We can see from the very beginning that the story is going to depict a conflict that involves the whole world just from reading the title. "The War" shows us that indeed conflict between two or more parties will occur within the narrative. The rest of the title,



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