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The War in the Air

H. G. Wells

Book Overview: 

War in the Air was written during a prolific time in H. G. Wells's writing career. Having withdrawn from British politics to spend more time on his own ideas, while many British citizens were surprised by the advent of World War I, Wells had already written prophetically about such a conflict. War in the Air predicted use of airplanes in modern war.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .It was a black spot moving slowly with him far below, following him down there, indefatigably, over the cloud mountains. Why should such a thing follow him? What could it be?...

He had an inspiration. "Uv course!" he said. It was the shadow of the balloon. But he still watched it dubiously for a time.

He returned to the plans on the table.

He spent a long afternoon between his struggles to understand them and fits of meditation. He evolved a remarkable new sentence in French.

"Voici, Mossoo!—Je suis un inventeur Anglais. Mon nom est Butteridge. Beh. oo. teh. teh. eh. arr. I. deh. geh. eh. J'avais ici pour vendre le secret de le flying-machine. Comprenez? Vendre pour l'argent tout suite, l'argent en main. Comprenez? C'est le machine a jouer dans l'air. Comprenez? C'est le machine a faire l'oiseau. Comprenez? Balancer? Oui, exactement! Battir l'oiseau en fait, a son propre jeu. Je desire de vendre ceci a votre government na. . . Read More

Community Reviews

It seems H.G. Wells may have written the first steampunk novel — at least, that’s how THE WAR IN THE AIR reads nowadays. The book starts off as the comic adventures of a “bicycle engineer,” Bert Smallways, and his efforts to avoid bankruptcy and to woo his love, Edna.

Though a series of rather unb...more

The War in the Air

Though written in 1908, I don’t believe H.G. Wells wrote this because he saw the writing on the wall that WWI was to come. Too early. What inspired this was the frenzy over the invention of the flying machines. With the Right Brothers and those who followed, and the innovations...more

I re-read this for the first time in many (40??) years, and it was surprising how much of the story, and even the individual words, had stuck in my memory. However, being somewhat older, and possibly wiser, than the first time that I read it, I was surprised by how well it relates to contemporary...more

A remarkably progressive book, but then Wells did like his politics. His constant observation that Europeans are no more civilized than the other races of man, and no less prone to violent, dominant, cruel behavior is refreshing amongst the variety of Victorian sci fi and adventure stories I've b...more

Wells wrote this book five years after the Wright brothers' flight 1903, after the Japanese defeat of the Russians in 1904, but prior to Bleiriot's crossing of the Channel by air in 1909. He was therefore writing at a time of significant international change, the ultimate path of which was not cl...more

If you like H.G. Well's you might like it...

This was the last of H.G. Wells's books that I read. It was written a decade before World War I and portrays an ill-conceived and indecisive war that delves every civilization on earth into the dark ages (literally, all modern luxuries like automobiles,...more

3.5*

Uncannily accurate predictions and analyses of the unstable social fabric of an imagined early twentieth century which is rather too much like our current society.

Sometimes a slog to read, but overall interesting.

"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....more

The most memorable works by H.G. Wells balance Victorian wistfulness and modern sci-fi adventure, with a dash of dystopian foreboding. The War in the Air doesn't quite hit that sweet spot, but it comes close, with a bit of humor thrown in, at least at the beginning. I'm not much into Steampunk, b...more

In many ways this is quite prescient, aircraft did radically change war.
My only real complaint is the prediction of the fall of the modern scientific society, so many things he thinks would have been lost (weaving fabrics, good farming practices, stuff like that) would not have been lost - Hades...more

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