Last year, I have written a review on Steampunk Poe and I promised myself that I will look for the other titles in the series. I am fortunate that we do have copies of both Steampunk collections (Steampunk Wells and Steampunk Frankenstein) in our library.
Steampunk H. G. Wells: The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, The Country of the Blind
Illustrated by Zdenko Basic
Published by Running Press Classics (2013)
Book borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library.
I feel a huge sense of accomplishment sharing that I finished reading this tome of a book. It is a heavyweight book – literally and metaphorically with two full-length novels and a short story packed into this beautifully-illustrated collection. For H. G. Wells fans, you would be happy to note that the text is untouched – it has all of Wells’ laborious, sometimes-painfully-detailed writing; only this time there are glimpses of stunning beauty with Zdenko Basic’s art.
This is not an easy book to read. I find that my attention frequently lapses especially as Wells gets into his expository writing, oftentimes verging on the philosophical, particularly in The Time Machine. I remained fascinated though with his description of how his story may only serve to be nothing but a dream within a dream – quite reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe’s writing as well (note that I took photos of the text and edited it using an iPhone app):
There is also the vision of the stars being similar regardless of what time period one happens to be in – which provides a semblance of comfort, at least:
Parts of the time traveler’s vision of the future reminded me a little bit of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale with a seeming-vision of a utopian back-to-basic kind of lifestyle that is actually laced with darkness and sinister undercurrents.
I also liked how the Time Traveler does not feel an urgent need to be believed by his contemporaries. He had no reason to lie, as he claimed. There is, however, a need for him to tell his story:
The War of the Worlds is divided into two books: The Coming of the Martians and The Earth Under the Martians. Much of what I have been reading reminds me a little bit of the post-apocalyptic TV series I am watching, particularly Falling Skies, especially since the way that Wells described his Martians look eerily similar to the intergalactic creatures that invaded Earth in the TV series (see images below):
There were also several lines that caught me as I was reading the novel with Wells’ vision of a dystopian world – well, at least London, with alien invasion:
There is also the fascination as to what drives these creatures, and whether there is the presence of an intelligent life form within the killing machines:
And his protagonist’s reason or will for being and living, regardless of the seeming-futility of it all:
The Country of the Blind, thankfully, is a much shorter read, but no less disturbing, as it posits how life would be like if the “normal” state of things is one without the faculties of one’s sight: when blindness is the ‘new normal’ so to speak. To complicate matters further, the seeing protagonist found someone to love in that ‘country of the blind’ where supposedly the one-eyed man is king. How far he would go to be with his lady love, I shall leave for you to discover. This would be a fascinating read with my psychology students as we unpack what it means to be ‘normal’ and how societal perspectives could provide an overwhelming sense of legitimacy as to what may be perceived as an aberration and what are socially-acceptable behaviours.
Needless to say, I was awed by Zdenko Basic’s art:
I would not want to be privy to the man’s nightmares. If you’re a scifi geek or simply one who wants a good (although occasionally-laborious) read, do find this book. Now I understand why HG Wells is often referred to (arguably for Jules Verne’s fans) as the father of science fiction.