The War in the Air

and Particularly How Mr. Bert Smallways Fared While it Lasted

Cover image for


Author: H.G. Wells
Published: 1908
Language: English
Wordcount: 96,874 / 289 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 60
LoC Category: PR
Downloads: 2,959 7353

"The War in the Air" is a story of the awful devastation following a conflict between two first-class powers with the resources of the air at their command. It is one of the most brilliant and successful of Mr. Wells's studies in futurity.

Show Excerpt

of a succession of strange phenomena in the heavens--cylinders, cones, pear-shaped monsters, even at last a thing of aluminium that glittered wonderfully, and that Grubb, through some confusion of ideas about armour plates, was inclined to consider a war machine.

There followed actual flight.

This, however, was not an affair that was visible from Bun Hill; it was something that occurred in private grounds or other enclosed places and, under favourable conditions, and it was brought home to Grubb and Bert Smallways only by means of the magazine page of the half-penny newspapers or by cinematograph records. But it was brought home very insistently, and in those days if, ever one heard a man saying in a public place in a loud, reassuring, confident tone, "It's bound to come," the chances were ten to one he was talking of flying. And Bert got a box lid and wrote out in correct window-ticket style, and Grubb put in the window this inscription, "Aeroplanes made and repaired." It quite upset Tom--it se


Average Rating of 4.5 from 2 reviews: *****
Henry L. Ratliff

(1908) Sci-fi (Future / War) / Adventure

R: * * * * *

Plot bullets

  • Yes, warfare in the future. That is, if you are living in 1908.

  • In this scenario, Germany invades America with Zeppelins. The airplane is still in it's infancy.

  • Who is Bert Smallways? He is the English bicycle repairman that gets swallowed up in fast moving events and has a unique view of the war as a captive.

  • America is taken unawares and it looks like the Germans will have their way. But they didn't reckon with Asia.

  • The whole world is at war. Modern civilization is in a state of disaster.

  • And Bert? Well his blundering, may yet turn the tide.


An enjoyable fictional account of a young Englishman's adventure. Written before World War I, this book speculates what the next war would be like when Zepplins ruled the skies. It is interesting today as a story of an alternate history.

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