Invasion literature

Invasion literature (or the invasion novel) is a literary genre most notable between 1871 and the First World War (1914) but still practised to this day. The genre first became recognizable starting in Britain in 1871 with The Battle of Dorking, a fictional account of an invasion of England by Germany. This short story was so popular it started a literary craze for tales that aroused imaginations and anxieties about hypothetical invasions by foreign powers, and by 1914 the genre had amassed a corpus of over 400 books, many best-sellers, and a world-wide audience.[1] The genre was influential in Britain in shaping politics, national policies, and popular perceptions in the years leading up to the First World War, and remains a part of popular culture to this day. Several of the books were written by or ghostwritten for military officers and experts of the day who believed that the nation would be saved if the particular tactic that they favoured was or would be adopted.[2]

The Battle of Dorking (1871) triggered an explosion of invasion literature. Cover of a 1914 edition.


Nearly a century before the invasion literature genre became a true popular phenomenon after the publication of The Battle of Dorking in the 1870s, a mini-boom of invasion stories appeared soon after the French developed the hot-air balloon. Poems and plays that centred on armies of balloons invading England could be found in France, and even America. However, it was not until the Prussians used advanced technologies such as breech-loading artillery and railroads to defeat the French in the 1870 War that the fear of invasion by a technologically superior enemy became more realistic.

In Europe

The Battle of Dorking (1871) by George Tomkyns Chesney first appeared in Blackwood's Magazine, a respected Victorian political journal read by important British politicians.[3] This short story describes the invasion of England by an unnamed enemy (who happen to speak German), in which the narrator and 1,000 citizens defend the small English town of Dorking, with no supplies or news of outside events. The story then moves forward in time 50 years and England is still devastated.

The author, like many of his countrymen at the time, was alarmed by Prussia's successful invasion of France in 1870, defeating Europe's largest army in only two months.[1] The Battle of Dorking was initially meant to shock readers into becoming more aware of the possible dangers of a foreign threat, but unwittingly created a new literary genre appealing to popular anxieties. The story was an immediate success, with one reviewer saying "We do not know that we ever saw anything better in any magazine... it describes exactly what we all feel."[1] It was so popular that the magazine was re-printed six times, a new pamphlet version was created, dozens of spoofs were created, and it was for sale throughout the British Empire.[1] One running joke in England at the time was an injury, such as a bruise or scrape, being attributed to a wound received at the battle of Dorking.

Between the publication of The Battle of Dorking in 1871 and the start of the First World War in 1914 there were hundreds of authors writing invasion literature, often topping the best seller lists in Germany, France, England and the United States.[1] During the period it is estimated over 400 invasion works were published. Probably the best known work was H. G. Wells's The War of the Worlds (1898), bearing plot similarities to The Battle of Dorking but with a science fiction theme. In 1907, Wells wrote The War in the Air, a cautionary tale depicting purely human invasions: a German invasion of the US triggers off a worldwide chain of attacks and counter-attacks, leading to the destruction of all major cities and centers, the collapse of world economy, disintegration of all the fighting nations and the sinking of the world into new Middle Ages.

Dracula (1897) also tapped into English fears of foreign forces arriving unopposed on its shores, although between 1870 and 1903 the majority of these works assumed that the enemy would be France, rather than Germany. This changed with the publication of Erskine Childers's 1903 novel The Riddle of the Sands. Often called the first modern spy novel, two men on a sailing holiday thwart a German invasion of England when they discover a secret fleet of invasion barges assembling on the German coast. Of these hundreds of authors, few are in print now. Saki is one of the exceptions, although his 1913 novel When William Came (subtitled "A Story of London Under the Hohenzollerns") is more jingoistic than literary. Another is John Buchan, whose novel The Thirty-Nine Steps, published in 1915 but written just prior to the outbreak of World War I, is a thriller dealing with German agents in Britain preparing for an invasion.

William Le Queux was the most prolific author of the genre; his first novel was The Great War in England in 1897 (1894) and he went on to publish from one to twelve novels a year until his death in 1927. His work was regularly serialised in newspapers, particularly the Daily Mail, and attracted many readers. It is believed Ian Fleming's James Bond character was inspired by Le Queux's agent "Duckworth Drew". In some ways The Great War can be considered an antithesis to The Battle of Dorking – with the one ending for Britain in sombre and irrevocable defeat and decline, while in the other the invasion of London is pushed back in the last moment (with the help of Germany, portrayed as a staunch ally against France and Russia), with enormous territorial aggrandizement (Britain gets Algeria and Russian Central Asia; "Britannia" becomes "Empress of the World").

Le Queux's most popular invasion novel was The Invasion of 1910 (1906) which was translated into twenty-seven languages selling more than a million copies world-wide. Le Queux and his publisher changed the ending depending on the language, so in the German print edition the fatherland wins, while in the English edition the Germans lose. Le Queux was said to be Queen Alexandra's favorite author.

P. G. Wodehouse parodied the genre in The Swoop!, in which England is simultaneously invaded by nine different armies, including Switzerland and Germany. English elites appear to be more interested in a cricket tournament, and the country is eventually saved by a boy scout named Clarence.

In Asia

Invasion literature had its impact also in Japan, at the time undergoing a fast process of modernization. Shunrō Oshikawa, a pioneer of Japanese science fiction and adventure stories (genres unknown in Japan until a few years earlier), published around the start of the 20th century the best-seller Kaitō Bōken Kidan: Kaitei Gunkan ("Undersea Battleship"): the story of an armoured, ram-armed submarine involved in a future history of war between Japan and Russia. The novel reflected the imperialist ambitions of Japan at the time, and foreshadowed the Russo-Japanese War that followed a few years later, in 1904. When the actual war with Russia broke out, Oshikawa covered it as a journalist while also continuing to publish further volumes of fiction depicting Japanese imperial exploits set in the Pacific and Indian Ocean – which also proved an enormous success with the Japanese public. In a later career as a magazine editor, he also encouraged the writing of more fiction in the same vein by other Japanese authors.

Colonial Hong Kong's earliest work of invasion literature is believed to have been the 1897 The Back Door. Published in serial form in a local English-language newspaper, it described a fictional French and Russian naval landing at Hong Kong Island's Deep Water Bay; the story was intended to criticise the lack of British funding for the defence of Hong Kong, and it is speculated that members of the Imperial Japanese Army may have read the book in preparation for the 1941 Battle of Hong Kong.[4]

In the U.S.

Joseph Pennell's 1918 Liberty bond poster calls up the pictorial image of an invaded, burning New York City.

One of the earliest stories to appear in print in the U.S. was "The Stricken Nation" by Henry Grattan Donnelly published in 1890 in New York. It tells of a successful British invasion of the U.S.[5] The move of American public opinion towards participation in World War I was reflected in Uncle Sam's Boys at The Invasion of the United States by H. Irving Hancock. This four-book series, published by the Henry Altemus Company in 1916, depicts a German invasion of the U.S. in 1920–1921. The plot seems to transfer the main story line of Le Queux's The Great War (with which the writer may have been familiar) to an American theatre: the Germans launch a surprise attack, capture Boston despite heroic resistance by "Uncle Sam's boys", overrun all of New England and New York and reach as far as Pittsburgh – but at last are gloriously crushed by fresh American forces.

In Australia

Australia's contribution to invasion literature was set against the background of pre-Federation colonial fears of the "Yellow Peril" and the foundations of the White Australia policy. From the late 1880s through to the beginning of World War I, this fear was expressed in Australia through cartoons, poems, plays and novels. Three of the most well known of these novels were White or Yellow? A Story of the Race War of AD 1908 (1888) by journalist William Lane, The Yellow Wave (1895) by Kenneth Mackay and The Australian Crisis (1909) by Charles H. Kirmess (possibly a pseudonym for another Australian author Frank Fox). Each of these novels contained two major common themes which were a reflection of the fears and concerns within a contemporary Australian context; the Australian continent was at risk of major invasion from a strong Asian power (ie. China or Japan, sometimes with the assistance of the Russian Empire) and that the United Kingdom was apathetic towards the protection of its faraway colonies, and would not come to Australia's aid when needed.[6]

After World War I

The "First Red Scare" following World War I produced Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Moon Men (1925), a depiction of Earth (and specifically, the United States) under the rule of cruel invaders from the Moon. This book is known to have been originally written as Under the Red Flag, an explicit anti-Communist novel, and when rejected by the publishers in that form it was successfully "recycled" by Burroughs as science fiction.

Ivan Petrushevich's "The Flying Submarine" (1922), depicted an invasion of The United Kingdom by Soviet forces after most of Europe and Asia had fallen to communism. The story features the British fleet being destroyed by a swarm of insect-like single pilot submarines which can emerge from the water to attack their foes.

Robert A. Heinlein's Sixth Column (1941) told the story of the invasion and conquest of the United States by the technologically advanced PanAsians, and the subsequent guerrilla struggle to overthrow them with even more advanced technology.

After World War II

Fears of Communist invasion became even more pronounced in books like Robert A. Heinlein's The Puppet Masters (1951) and films like Invasion USA (1953) and a Department of Defense information film released to the general public Red Nightmare (1957). A more explicit Soviet invasion and occupation is depicted in Jerry Sohl's Point Ultimate (1955) – where the United States lies prostrate under cruel and degenerate Soviet occupiers, helped by "Commie" American collaborators – but a band of undaunted rebels manage the improbable feat of launching an extensive space program under the Soviets' noses, colonising Mars and using it as a base of operations. Similar themes were continued in the 1980s with the film Red Dawn (1984) and TV miniseries Amerika (1987).

During the 1960s, the enemy was changed from the Soviet Union to Red China where China was shown as behind plots to destroy the American economy with a nuclear weapon in Goldfinger (1964), instigating a war between the USA and USSR in You Only Live Twice and invading the United States from tunnels dug beneath the ocean in Battle Beneath the Earth (1967).

In 1971, when realization of losing the Vietnam War was sinking into the American consciousness, two books appeared almost simultaneously, both depicting a United States under Soviet occupation. In Vandenberg by Oliver Lange – written, like "Dorking", as a cautionary tale – most Americans accept Soviet overlordship without much protest, the only resistance coming from a group of oddballs in a corner of New Mexico. In contrast, in John Ball's The First Team – as in "The Great War" – a seemingly hopeless situation is retrieved by a band of courageous patriots with the book ending on a note of uplifting liberation. The Amerika TV miniseries, depicting a Soviet-occupied US, was aired in 1987 - a time when Gorbachev's Perestroika already rendered its theme highly implausible.

The Tomorrow series by John Marsden, published between 1993 and 1999, detail an invasion of Australia by an unnamed country from the perspective of a band of teenage guerillas.

Allebury, All Our Tomorrows, resistance to a Soviet occupation of the U.K.

Political impact

Stories of a planned German invasion rose to increasing political prominence from 1906. Taking their inspiration from the stories of Le Queux and Childers, hundreds of ordinary citizens began to suspect foreigners of espionage. This trend was accentuated by Le Queux, who collected 'sightings' brought to his attention by readers and raised them through his association with the Daily Mail. Subsequent research has since shown that no significant German espionage network existed in Britain at this time. Claims about the scale of German invasion preparations grew increasingly ambitious. The number of German spies was put at between 60,000 and 300,000 (in spite of the total German community in Britain being no more than 44,000 people). It was alleged that thousands of rifles were being stockpiled by German spies in order to arm saboteurs at the outbreak of war.

Calls for government action grew ever more intense, and in 1909 it was given as the reason for the secret foundation of the Secret Service Bureau, the forerunner of MI5 and MI6. Historians today debate whether this was in fact the real reason, but in any case the concerns raised in invasion literature came to define the early duties of the Bureau's Home Section. Vernon Kell, the section head, remained obsessed with the location of these saboteurs, focusing his operational plans both before and during the war on defeating the saboteurs imagined by Le Queux.

Invasion literature was not without detractors; policy experts in the years preceding the First World War said invasion literature risked inciting war between England and Germany and France. Critics such as Prime Minister Henry Campbell-Bannerman denounced Le Queux's The Invasion of 1910 as "calculated to inflame public opinion abroad and alarm the more ignorant public at home."[1] Journalist Charles Lowe wrote in 1910: "Among all the causes contributing to the continuance of a state of bad blood between England and Germany perhaps the most potent is the baneful industry of those unscrupulous writers who are forever asserting that the Germans are only awaiting a fitting opportunity to attack us in our island home and burst us up."[1]

Notable invasion literature

"Promised Horrors of the French Invasion" – a cartoon by the British James Gillray published during the French Revolution and depicting a London occupied by the French

Pre-World War I

Post-World War I

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Reiss 2005.
  2. ^ Echevarria, Antonio J. (2007). Imagining Future War: The West's Technological Revolution and Visions of Wars to Come 1880–1914. Prager Institute. ISBN 9780313051104.
  3. ^ Patrick M Kirkwood, "The Impact of Fiction on Public Debate in Late Victorian Britain: The Battle of Dorking and the 'Lost Career' of Sir George Tomkyns Chesney," The Graduate History Review 4, No. 1 (Fall, 2012), 1-16.
  4. ^ Bickley, Gillian. Hong Kong Invaded! A 97 Nightmare. Hong Kong, China: Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 962-209-526-7.
  5. ^ Clarke, I. F., ed. (1995). Tales of the next great war. Syracuse University Press. ISBN 081562672X.
  6. ^ Curran, James; Ward, Stuart, eds. (2013). Australia and the Wider World: Selected Essays of Neville Meaney. Sydney University Press. ISBN 9781743320259.


  • Affeldt, Stefanie (2011). "'White' Nation – 'White' Angst. The Literary Invasion of Australia". In Wigger, Iris; Ritter, Sabine. Racism and Modernity. Berlin: Lit. pp. 222–235. ISBN 9783643901491.
  • Christopher, Andrew (1985). Secret Service: the making of the British intelligence community. ISBN 0-434-02110-5.
  • Clarke, I. F. (1992) [1966]. Voices Prophesying War: Future Wars, 1763–3749. ISBN 0-19-212302-5.
  • Reiss, Tom (November 28, 2005). "Imagining the Worst: How a literary genre anticipated the modern world". The New Yorker: 106–114.

External links

Aetheric Mechanics

Aetheric Mechanics is a graphic novella created by Eagle Award-winning writer Warren Ellis. It is 48 pages long, illustrated in black and white by Gianluca Pagliarini, and was published by Avatar Press in October 2008.

Alien invasion

The alien invasion or space invasion is a common feature in science fiction stories and film, in which extraterrestrials invade the Earth either to exterminate and supplant human life, enslave it under an intense state, harvest people for food, steal the planet's resources, or destroy the planet altogether.

The invasion scenario has been used as an allegory for a protest against military hegemony and the societal ills of the time. H. G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds extended the invasion literature that was already common when science fiction was first emerging as a genre.

Prospects of invasion tended to vary with the state of current affairs, and current perceptions of threat. Alien invasion was a common metaphor in United States science fiction during the Cold War, illustrating the fears of foreign (e.g. Soviet Union) occupation and nuclear devastation of the American people. Examples of these stories include the short story The Liberation of Earth (1950) by William Tenn and the film The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956).

In the invasion trope, fictional aliens contacting Earth tend to either observe (sometimes using experiments) or invade, rather than help the population of Earth acquire the capacity to participate in interplanetary affairs. There are some notable exceptions, such as the alien-initiated first-contact scenarios in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Star Trek: First Contact (1996) and Arrival (2016). A trope of the peaceful first-contact is humanity attaining a key technological threshold (e.g. nuclear weapons and space travel in The Day the Earth Stood Still or faster-than-light travel in First Contact), justifying their initiation into a broader community of intelligent species.

Technically, a human invasion of an alien species is also an alien invasion, as from the viewpoint of the aliens, humans are the aliens. Such stories are much rarer than stories about aliens attacking humans. Examples include the short story Sentry (1954) (in which the "aliens" described are, at the end, explained to be humans), the video game Phantasy Star II (1989), The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, the Imperium of Man in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, Invaders from Earth by Robert Silverberg, the movies Battle for Terra (2007), Planet 51 (2009), Avatar (2009) and Mars Needs Moms (2011).

As well as being a subgenre of science fiction, these kinds of books can be considered a subgenre of invasion literature, which also includes fictional depictions of humans invaded by other humans (for example, a fictional invasion of England by a hostile France strongly influenced Wells' depiction of a Martian invasion).

Anno Dracula

Anno Dracula is a 1992 novel by British writer Kim Newman, the first in the Anno Dracula series. It is an alternate history using 19th-century English historical settings and personalities, along with characters from popular fiction. The interplay between humans who have chosen to "turn" into vampires and those who are "warm" (humans) is the backdrop for the plot which tracks Jack the Ripper's politically charged destruction of vampire prostitutes. The reader is alternately and sympathetically introduced to various points of view. The main characters are Jack the Ripper, and his hunters Charles Beauregard (an agent of the Diogenes Club), and Geneviève Dieudonné, an elder vampire. The two other main point of views are Captain Kostaki, a sympathetic elder vampire warrior of Dracula's Carpathian Guard, and Lord Godalming, ambitious, scheming aide of Prime Minister Ruthven.

Before Armageddon

Before Armageddon: An Anthology of Victorian and Edwardian Imaginative Fiction Published Before 1914 is a collection of stories, including invasion literature, and one article, all edited by Michael Moorcock. Originally published in hardback by W.H. Allen in 1975, it was re-issued as a paperback by Star in 1976.

The collection is notable largely for its introduction by Michael Moorcock.

Dracula the Undead (novel)

Dracula the Undead is a sequel written to Bram Stoker's classic novel Dracula, written by Freda Warrington. The book was commissioned by Penguin Books as a sequel to Stoker's original novel for the centenary of the latter's first publication. It takes place seven years after the original. It was originally published in 1997, and was brought back to print in 2009.

England Invaded

England Invaded is a collection of imaginative fiction, including invasion literature, from the Victorian and Edwardian periods, edited by British author Michael Moorcock. Originally published in hardback by W. H. Allen in 1977, it was re-issued as a paperback by Star in 1980.

Note - the same title was used for a book by Edward Foord and Gordon Home, published in 1913, describing the historic invasions of England.

Rule Britannia (novel)

Rule Britannia is Daphne du Maurier's last novel, published in 1972 by Victor Gollancz. The novel is set in a fictional near future in which the UK's recent withdrawal from the EEC has brought the country to the verge of bankruptcy.

The Battle of Dorking

The Battle of Dorking: Reminiscences of a Volunteer is an 1871 novella by George Tomkyns Chesney, starting the genre of invasion literature and an important precursor of science fiction. Written just after the Prussian victory in the Franco-Prussian War, it describes an invasion of Britain by a German-speaking country referred to in oblique terms as The Other Power or The Enemy.

The Dead of Night (novel)

The Dead of the Night, also published as The Dead of Night, is the second book in the Tomorrow series by John Marsden. It is a young adult invasion literature novel, detailing the occupation of Australia by an unnamed foreign power. It continues the story started in Tomorrow, When the War Began. The novel is told in the first person perspective by the main character, a teenage girl named Ellie Linton, who is part of a small band of teenagers waging a guerrilla war on the enemy in their fictional home town of Wirrawee.

The Invasion of 1910

The Invasion of 1910 is a 1906 novel written mainly by William Le Queux (along with H. W. Wilson providing the naval chapters). It is one of the most famous examples of invasion literature. It is viewed by some as an example of pre-World War I Germanophobia. It can also be viewed as prescient, as it preached the need to prepare for war with Germany.

The Land Leviathan

The Land Leviathan is an alternate history novel by Michael Moorcock, first published in 1974. Originally subtitled A New Scientific Romance, it has been seen as an early steampunk novel, dealing with an alternative British Imperial history dominated by airships and futuristic warfare. It is a sequel to Warlord of the Air (1971) and followed by The Steel Tsar (1981). This proto-steampunk trilogy is also published as the compilation volume A Nomad of the Time Streams.

The Moon Maid

The Moon Maid is a fantasy novel by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, belonging to the Lost World sub-genre. It was written in three parts, Part 1 was begun in June 1922 under the title The Moon Maid, Part 2 was begun in 1919 under the title Under the Red Flag, later retitled The Moon Men, Part 3 was titled The Red Hawk. As evident from its name, Under the Red Flag was originally set in contemporary Soviet Russia, with the Bolsheviks as villains; as this was not popular with the publishers, Burroughs transferred it to a science-fictional setting, with the evil Communist-like "Kalkars" taking over the Moon (in the first part) and then the Earth (in the second part, with the help of a renegade Earthman) and being finally overthrown in the third part. (Also the Thorists, villains of Pirates of Venus, are clearly modeled on the Russian Communists.)

The book version was first published by A. C. McClurg on February 6, 1926, under the title The Moon Maid, though it was shortened from the serial. The three Parts have been published in varying combinations and under varying titles since 1926.

The Riddle of the Sands

The Riddle of the Sands: A Record of Secret Service is a 1903 novel by Erskine Childers. The book, which enjoyed immense popularity in the years before World War I, is an early example of the espionage novel and was extremely influential in the genre of spy fiction. It has been made into feature-length films for both cinema and television.

The novel "owes a lot to the wonderful adventure novels of writers like Rider Haggard, that were a staple of Victorian Britain". It was a spy novel that "established a formula that included a mass of verifiable detail, which gave authenticity to the story – the same ploy that would be used so well by John Buchan, Ian Fleming, John le Carré and many others."

The Swoop!

The Swoop!, or How Clarence Saved England is a short comic novel by P. G. Wodehouse, first published in the United Kingdom by Alston Rivers Ltd, London, on April 16, 1909. Its subtitle is A Tale of the Great Invasion.

An adapted and much abbreviated version, set in the United States, appeared in the July and August 1915 issues of Vanity Fair under the title The Military Invasion of America and with the subtitle A Remarkable Tale of the German-Japanese Invasion of 1916.

The original story was not published in the United States until 1979, four years after Wodehouse's death, when it was included in the collection The Swoop! and Other Stories.

The War in the Air

The War in the Air, a military science fiction novel by H. G. Wells, written in four months in 1907 and serialised and published in 1908 in The Pall Mall Magazine, is like many of Wells's works notable for its prophetic ideas, images, and concepts—in this case, the use of the aircraft for the purpose of warfare and the coming of World War I. The novel's hero is Bert Smallways, a "forward-thinking young man" and a "kind of bicycle engineer of the let's-'ave-a-look-at-it and enamel-chipping variety."

The War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds is a science fiction novel by English author H. G. Wells, first serialized in 1897 by Pearson's Magazine in the UK and by Cosmopolitan magazine in the US. The novel's first appearance in hardcover was in 1898 from publisher William Heinemann of London. Written between 1895 and 1897, it is one of the earliest stories to detail a conflict between mankind and an extraterrestrial race. The novel is the first-person narrative of both an unnamed protagonist in Surrey and of his younger brother in London as southern England is invaded by Martians. The novel is one of the most commented-on works in the science fiction canon.The plot has been related to invasion literature of the time. The novel has been variously interpreted as a commentary on evolutionary theory, British imperialism, and generally Victorian superstitions, fears, and prejudices. At the time of publication, it was classified as a scientific romance, like Wells's earlier novel The Time Machine. The War of the Worlds has been both popular (having never been out of print) and influential, spawning half a dozen feature films, radio dramas, a record album, various comic book adaptations, a television series, and sequels or parallel stories by other authors. It was most memorably dramatized in a 1938 radio program that allegedly caused public panic among listeners who did not know the Martian invasion was fictional.

The novel has even influenced the work of scientists, notably Robert H. Goddard, who, inspired by the book, invented both the liquid fuelled rocket and multistage rocket, which resulted in the Apollo 11 Moon landing 71 years later.

The World Set Free

The World Set Free is a novel written in 1913 and published in 1914 by H. G. Wells. The book is based on a prediction of a more destructive and uncontrollable sort of weapon than the world has yet seen. It had appeared first in serialised form with a different ending as A Prophetic Trilogy, consisting of three books: A Trap to Catch the Sun, The Last War in the World and The World Set Free.A frequent theme of Wells's work, as in his 1901 nonfiction book Anticipations, was the history of humans' mastery of power and energy through technological advance, seen as a determinant of human progress. The novel begins: "The history of mankind is the history of the attainment of external power. Man is the tool-using, fire-making animal. . . . Always down a lengthening record, save for a set-back ever and again, he is doing more." (Many of the ideas Wells develops here found a fuller development when he wrote The Outline of History in 1918-1919.) The novel is dedicated "To Frederick Soddy's Interpretation of Radium," a volume published in 1909.

Scientists of the time were well aware that the slow natural radioactive decay of elements like radium continues for thousands of years, and that while the rate of energy release is negligible, the total amount released is huge. Wells used this as the basis for his story.

In his fiction,

The problem which was already being mooted by such scientific men as Ramsay, Rutherford, and Soddy, in the very beginning of the twentieth century, the problem of inducing radio-activity in the heavier elements and so tapping the internal energy of atoms, was solved by a wonderful combination of induction, intuition, and luck by Holsten so soon as the year 1933.

Wells's knowledge of atomic physics came from reading William Ramsay, Ernest Rutherford, and Frederick Soddy; the last discovered the disintegration of uranium. Soddy's book Wealth, Virtual Wealth and Debt praises The World Set Free. Wells's novel may even have influenced the development of nuclear weapons, as the physicist Leó Szilárd read the book in 1932, the same year the neutron was discovered. In 1933 Szilárd conceived the idea of neutron chain reaction, and filed for patents on it in 1934.Wells's "atomic bombs" have no more force than ordinary high explosive and are rather primitive devices detonated by a "bomb-thrower" biting off "a little celluloid stud." They consist of "lumps of pure Carolinum" that induce "a blazing continual explosion" whose half-life is seventeen days, so that it is "never entirely exhausted," so that "to this day the battle-fields and bomb fields of that frantic time in human history are sprinkled with radiant matter, and so centres of inconvenient rays."

Never before in the history of warfare had there been a continuing explosive; indeed, up to the middle of the twentieth century the only explosives known were combustibles whose explosiveness was due entirely to their instantaneousness; and these atomic bombs which science burst upon the world that night were strange even to the men who used them.

Wells observes:

Certainly it seems now that nothing could have been more obvious to the people of the earlier twentieth century than the rapidity with which war was becoming impossible. And as certainly they did not see it. They did not see it until the atomic bombs burst in their fumbling hands [...] All through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the amount of energy that men were able to command was continually increasing. Applied to warfare that meant that the power to inflict a blow, the power to destroy, was continually increasing [...]There was no increase whatever in the ability to escape [...]Destruction was becoming so facile that any little body of malcontents could use it [...]Before the last war began it was a matter of common knowledge that a man could carry about in a handbag an amount of latent energy sufficient to wreck half a city.

Wells viewed war as the inevitable result of the Modern State; the introduction of atomic energy in a world divided resulted in the collapse of society. The only possibilities remaining were "either the relapse of mankind to agricultural barbarism from which it had emerged so painfully or the acceptance of achieved science as the basis of a new social order." Wells's theme of world government is presented as a solution to the threat of nuclear weapons.

From the first they had to see the round globe as one problem; it was impossible any longer to deal with it piece by piece. They had to secure it universally from any fresh outbreak of atomic destruction, and they had to ensure a permanent and universal pacification.

The devastation of the war leads the French ambassador at Washington, Leblanc, to summon world leaders to a conference at Brissago, where Britain's "King Egbert" sets an example by abdicating in favor of a world state. Such is the state of the world's exhaustion that the effective coup of this "council" ("Never, of course, had there been so provisional a government. It was of an extravagant illegality.") is resisted only in a few places. The defeat of Serbia's "King Ferdinand Charles" and his attempt to destroy the council and seize control of the world is narrated in some detail.Brought to its senses, humanity creates a utopian order along Wellsian lines in short order. Atomic energy has solved the problem of work. In the new order "the majority of our population consists of artists."The World Set Free concludes with a chapter recounting the reflections of one of the new order's sages, Marcus Karenin, during his last days. Karenin argues that knowledge and power, not love, are the essential vocation of humanity, and that "There is no absolute limit to either knowledge or power."

Tomorrow, When the War Began

Tomorrow, When the War Began is the first book in the Tomorrow series by John Marsden. It was published in 1993, and is a young adult invasion novel, detailing a high-intensity invasion and occupation of Australia by a foreign power. The novel is told in first person perspective by the main character, a teenage girl named Ellie Linton, who is part of a small band of teenagers waging a guerrilla war on the enemy garrison in their fictional home town of Wirrawee.

Tomorrow, When the War Began was adapted into a feature film of the same name that was released on 2 September 2010 in Australia and New Zealand. It was written and directed by Stuart Beattie, and starred Caitlin Stasey in the role of Ellie Linton.

When William Came

When William Came: A Story of London Under the Hohenzollerns is a novel written by the British author Saki (the pseudonym of Hector Hugh Munro) and published in November 1913. It is set several years in what was then the future, after a war between Germany and Great Britain in which the former won.

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