Flashes of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the War of the Worlds Centennial, Nineteenth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts

Flashes of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the War of the Worlds Centennial, Nineteenth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts

Flashes of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the War of the Worlds Centennial, Nineteenth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts

Flashes of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the War of the Worlds Centennial, Nineteenth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts

Synopsis

Essays examine The War of the Worlds , other works by H. G. Wells, and assorted topics related to science fiction and fantasy.

Excerpt

David Ketterer

It was decided that, from 1997 onward, each annual Conference of the Fantastic in the Arts (and the corresponding volume of selected essays) would have a specific focus. Since 1998 was the centennial of the first book publications of H. G Wells's The War of the Worlds, the focus choice was an obvious one. Wells's first and fifth novels, The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds, respectively, have together largely created the science-fiction (SF) genre; certainly they are the two most influential sf works that exist. But Wells also contributed to other genres of the fantastic, and it seems unlikely that any twentieth-century—or indeed twentyfirst-century—writer, artist, or musician exploring whatever aspect of the fantastic would not be aware of one or more examples of Wells's fiction and thereby influenced to a greater or lesser degree. and the one work most people are likely to have some knowledge of, at least secondhand, is The War of the Worlds.

Part I of this volume consists of four chapters that offer fresh interpretations of The War of the Worlds. Part ii leads with a chapter that treats another aspect of Wells and his work, while the following five focus on examples of sf and Utopian fiction (which can be viewed as a partial subset of SF) that The War of the Worlds and Wells's other work inspired in major or minor ways. Peter Straub was the Guest of Honor at the 1998 conference. the three pieces mat make up Part iii, the "Art of Peter Straub," are notable for Straub's own contribution. Even Patricia Moir's chapter benefited from direct communication with him. the eight provocative chapters in Part iv are united by the fact that, while focused on different aspects of the fantastic as variously understood, they are not primarily about sf (or at least sf as it is generally understood).

Of course, The War of the Worlds is most relevant to the alien theme in sf. That First Contact story fixed in the minds of all Wells's successors the Repellant Alien (the Martians being the original Bug-Eyed Monsters) as both a seemingly unbeatable superior enemy Other and as us. But such was Wells's influence on the entire range of the fantastic that no doubt some Wells connection could be discerned in all the chapters on post-Wellsian fiction that make up parts iii and iv of this book.

John Wyndham was the writer who most successfully modeled his work directly on that of H. G Wells. Wyndham's best known novel remains the one that most closely resembles The War of the Worlds. the extent to which The Day of the Triffids reprises Wells's novel is apparent from its very title, which recalls the penultimate sentence of all the British editions of The War of the Worlds (the . . .

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