So far, I've been unimpressed with scientific r0mance. Both Twain and Verne have disappointed. Twain because the wit seem more vitriol than illuminatory, and Verne's Robur seemed a bit of a shell of a book. It describes people and events but never makes me care. Well, Wells turned it around for me. But while I loved the book, the Steampunk Factor is really low. A mere 60%. Let's take a look.
Technofantasy: 10 points Wells wasn't interested in hard science. For him, story and social commentary were much more important. However, he gets several things right, and they make his world very believable. I especially liked how alien his Martians were. While I have a hard time with the explanation of their metabolism, I easily explained that as the incomplete description of an alien technology. So why is Wells so much lower on the technofantasy here? I suppose because War of the Worlds simply feels more plausible. The problems of an aerostat are much greater than what Verne describes, while with Wells I imagine an alien invasion would happen much like he describes.
Neo-Victorianism: 30 points This is a Victorian novel through and through. From people taking tea at the crater's edge, to the description of the larder in the average English house, it was beautiful. I only hope that some of the current steampunk I will be reading will have noted some of these things.
Retrofuturism: 10 points This novel had very little retrofuturism at all. It was very much a novel of regular people reacting to events completely out of their experience. There were no heroes. Well, actually that's isn't true. All the heroes where incinerated by the Martian heat beams, and were therefore inconsequential to the story. This was stark. I loved it.
Intangibles: 10 points I am giving this a 10 simply for the enjoyment it gave me. It is the steampunk I want. Like the movie, "The Prestige", it's every day 19th century life with something bizarrely science fiction to break it up.
Steampunk Factor: 60/100 = 60% It counts as Steamish, but not highly so. Very interesting.
Ok, so here's the review. Wow. This was a great book. I was riveted, I had assumed it would be a Victorian version of the old black & white movie. No, it was amazing. The descriptions of the flight from London, hiding out with the mad curate, fleeing England in boats, and and glimpses of the Martian's feeding habits, kept me glued to my ebook reader. I find that I don't have much more to say. But this one is a must read.