My Influences: H. G. Wells

Wells' machinesWhat an image! Huge glittering metallic monsters from Mars! H.G. Wells published his groundbreaking concept of a superior race of warlike aliens attacking and crushing our society in his 1898 novel, The War of the Worlds. The artist who painted this dramatic cover for the comic-book adaptation knew how to appeal to a pre-teenage boy’s mind. This was–and still is–one of my favorite book covers of all time. It’s definitely not just for pre-teen boys.

And what was behind that cover has stood the test of time since the 1950s when I bought it off a rack at a G O Guy drug store. Wells’ tale of relentless space invaders and humanity’s collapse in the face of superior force, has remained a favorite concept for me in books, stories, and film. And that can be said for a lot of other people as well.

But you might not be aware that some of my own stories make more than passing mention of Wells’ work.

For instance, in Dinosaur Wars: Earthfall and its two sequels, the invading dinosaurian army roars down out of space in ships that blaze through the atmosphere like balls of fire, just like the martians did in War of the Worlds. In War of the Worlds, Wells casts a scientist by the name of Dr. Ogilvey as the first human to try to make contact with the invaders. In Dinosaur Wars, the paleontologist who has been digging up bones of the creatures now returning to earth after a sixty-five-million-year absence, is also named Dr. Ogilvey. Not a coincidence. A nod, or a tribute as they say, to a man who explored this territory before me.

And the notion written so effectively by Wells, of human artillery hopelessly outmatched against laser death rays, has made quite a comeback on my pages. I spend some time describing terrifying military disasters and a few successes experienced by our troops fighting against laser-blasting glittering walking machines. In Wells’ book, the soldiers were essentially World War I vintage forces. In Dinosaur Wars, the soldiers and sailors and airmen I describe in action are drawn from current service men and women. That trick of showing the reader our familiar forces up against an unknown and superior enemy, is an exact match to Wells’ plan. It puts the reader much deeper into the conflict than some story set in a time and galaxy far far away.

In War of the Worlds the invaders immediately put humans on their dinner menu. In Dinosaur Wars–well, um–the invaders are human-sized carnivorous dinosaurs, so guess what?

If like me, you’re sorry there was only one War of the Worlds book published by H.G. Wells, take heart! There are three books in the Dinosaur Wars trilogy, and some short stories in my Dinosaur Tales series set in times just after the end of the original books.

So if one of your influences in science fiction is H. G. Wells, and if he’s left you wishing for more, may I suggest you take a look at Dinosaur Wars? I tried hard to make every book and story good enough to be a fitting tribute to the original master of the form.

About Tom Hopp

Thomas P Hopp is a scientist and author living in Seattle. He writes medical thrillers, natural disaster novels, and the Dinosaur Wars science fiction series.
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