Blog Challenges · Book Reviews

Not What it Used To Be

First I just want to mention a new Blog Challenge for July, yes NEW and all sparkly if you would like to find out more click here Blog Challenge to find out more and learn about its creator, and maybe decide to join in xx

Have you ever gone back and picked up a book you had really enjoyed only to find it a little dull but not be able to figure out why?  I was nearly a third of the way through rereading HG Wells War of the Worlds when the light bulb came on.


I must state it is only the book to which I refer as I have never seen the 2005 film I tend to avoid remakes wherever possible but I realised the trouble with this book is that while the book itself has not change, I and the surrounding world have.

The book was first published in 1898 at a time when science and more importantly Darwinism was challenging religious preconceptions of the world.  Travel to the stars was merely a flight of fancy rather than a possibility for every person with the money to pay.  Machines were cumbersome steam contraptions, computers were unheard of and communities lived in relative isolation with news travelling slowly unless by the occasional telegram.  Things could not be more different from this internet age in which we live.  At the time it was written it was completely possible this scenario might happen in fact a few years later one man would cause a national panic with his interpretation.

In 1958 Orson Welles adapted the play moving its location from the south of England to New York and broadcast it in two hour long programmes on radio, this is how the chaos began…

This was a time where we had become fascinated by the stars and planets and Sci-Fi really began to come into its own as a genre, the development of the film industry played a huge role in this yet it was the older medium of Radio which led to the panic, possibly as the public had now become used to the idea of film as fantasy but radio as factual.  Although we had made many advances technologically since the books initial publication it was still possibly that aliens could descend from Mars to wipe out civilisation as we know it. The next two clips demonstrate the extent of the panic and the apology that Welles himself was forced to give for terrifying a nation.

The problem is now the book is no longer believable, it has become outdated, Sci-Fi relies on the possibility of fantasy becoming reality, once the time passes without the events happening it becomes obsolete to an extent.  As a modern reader we marvel at the idea of news taking days to pass from place to another when it can now be sent around the world in seconds.  We can still read the book in terms of its place in literary history but it no longer has the thrill which it was intended to invoke.  When I first read this around thirty years ago I was fascinated by it, even then technology had advanced from its conception but not to the extent where invaders from space could be written off as easily as now.

In one way I regret rereading this and wish I could have left it alone and allowed the childhood memory of it to remain but it was part of my 1000 books challenge.  If anyone hasn’t read it and wants to form their own opinion of it you can read it on line for free by following the link at the bottom of this post or download it via Project Gutenburg.

Is there a book which you read when you were younger but regret rereading as an adult?

4 thoughts on “Not What it Used To Be

  1. Ohhhh maan I hate it when that happens, but like with going to Disney, I do notice overtime the feelings of nostalgia sort of seep back in and push reality out. They’re just too strong.


  2. When I was younger I read Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters Trilogy and they were some of my favorite books, but for some reason when I reread the first book a few years ago it didn’t resonant with me as much. It was still okay, just didn’t live up to the memory I guess.


  3. I actually finished reading this on the way home from Cheltenham yesterday. I thoroughly enjoyed comparing it to the musical and generally just enjoyed it, and I think I’ll probably read it again some day. After all, a re-read of Day Of The Triffids didn’t disappoint me 🙂


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