I am a huge fan of H.G. Wells, the author of this book, and spend a great deal of time in used book stores looking for old works of his that I have yet to read. Although he wrote over 100 books only maybe 5 or 10 of them would be available in your typical Barnes and Noble and if you take a look in a used book store you would perhaps find as many as 15 or 20. On occasion you find one of his less common books and that is what I am always searching for when I visit a used book store.
When reading about Wells' work it seems that Star-Begotten is one of his more popular later works but when I found this recently in a bookstore in Minneapolis it was the first time I had ever seen it for sale. The edition I purchased is published by Manor Books but doesn't have a date anywhere on it which is odd, it looks to be from the 60's based on the art style and price.
This is a story about a man who, during a conversation with some people more intelligent than him, gets it into his head that earth is being affected by Martians. He becomes obsessed with the notion that Martians are sending cosmic rays to earth that penetrate the wombs of pregnant mothers and alter the babies to their (the Martians') ends.
It's one of Wells' better novels in my opinion and comes across as thoroughly modern to me. The concept behind the novel is to follow this idea around different parts of society as it "affects" different minds. The initial man, Joseph, tells his doctor about it who then discusses it with a scientist friend of his, eventually it ends up in the newspapers and all over the world. Here, Wells has come up with one of his best plots for social commentary ever. In many of his novels he comes across as overly didactic and I suppose some people would say he is here too but it all fits within the context of the story as he makes statements about the gullibility but also the open-mindedness of our society. It is left open until the very end whether or not there is actually any threat from outer space which is unusually vague for Wells, generally he would lay out all the answers for you from the get go but here the reader is left to decide whether these people are crazy or not.
There is also one (very small) but interesting part in this book when it becomes clear that at least some of the characters in it have read the other novels by H.G. Wells and make a couple comments on them. I found this to be quite shocking, it's the kind of thing I wouldn't be surprised to see in a Vonnegut book or any post-Alan Moore comic books but in a Wells book from the 30's? Weird. In a good way.
Overall I would say this book is definitely worth checking out if you see it for sale. It's very short, my edition ran 173 pages, and very entertaining start to finish.