The War of the Worlds is a science fiction novel by English author H. G. Wells, first serialised 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 War of the Worlds|
1898 UK first edition
|Author||H. G. Wells|
|Published||1898 (William Heinemann)|
|Text||The War of the Worlds at Wikisource|
Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.— H. G. Wells (1898), The War of the Worlds
The narrative opens by stating that as humans on Earth busied themselves with their own endeavours during the mid-1890s, aliens on Mars began plotting an invasion of Earth because their own resources are dwindling. The narrator (who is unnamed throughout the novel) is invited to an astronomical observatory at Ottershaw where explosions are seen on the surface of the planet Mars, creating much interest in the scientific community. Months later, a so called "meteor" lands on Horsell Common, near the narrator's home in Woking, Surrey. He is among the first to discover that the object is an artificial cylinder that opens, disgorging Martians who are "big" and "greyish" with "oily brown skin", "the size, perhaps, of a bear", each with "two large dark-coloured eyes", and lipless "V-shaped mouths" which drip saliva and are surrounded by two "Gorgon groups of tentacles". The narrator finds them "at once vital, intense, inhuman, crippled and monstrous". They briefly emerge, have difficulty in coping with the Earth's atmosphere and gravity, and rapidly retreat into their cylinder. A human deputation (which includes the astronomer Ogilvy) approaches the cylinder with a white flag, but the Martians incinerate them and others nearby with a heat-ray before beginning to assemble their machinery. Military forces arrive that night to surround the common, including Maxim guns. The population of Woking and the surrounding villages are reassured by the presence of the British Army. A tense day begins, with much anticipation of military action by the narrator.
After heavy firing from the common and damage to the town from the heat-ray which suddenly erupts in the late afternoon, the narrator takes his wife to safety in nearby Leatherhead, where his cousin lives, using a rented, two-wheeled horse cart; he then returns to Woking to return the cart when in the early morning hours, a violent thunderstorm erupts. On the road during the height of the storm, he has his first terrifying sight of a fast-moving Martian fighting-machine; in a panic he crashes the horse cart, barely escaping detection. He discovers the Martians have assembled towering three-legged "fighting-machines" (tripods), each armed with a heat-ray and a chemical weapon: the poisonous "black smoke". These tripods have wiped out the army units positioned around the cylinder and attacked and destroyed most of Woking. Sheltering in his house, the narrator sees a fleeing artilleryman moving through his garden, who later tells the narrator of his experiences and mentions that another cylinder has landed between Woking and Leatherhead, cutting off the narrator from his wife. The two try to escape via Byfleet just after dawn, but are separated at the Shepperton to Weybridge Ferry during a Martian afternoon attack on Shepperton. One of the Martian fighting-machines is brought down in the River Thames by artillery as the narrator and countless others try to cross the river into Middlesex, as the Martians retreat back to their original crater. This gives the authorities precious hours to form a defence-line covering London. After the Martians' temporary repulse, the narrator is able to float down the Thames in a boat toward London, stopping at Walton, where he first encounters the curate, his companion for the coming weeks.
Towards dusk, the Martians renew their offensive, breaking through the defence-line of siege guns and field artillery centred on Richmond Hill and Kingston Hill by a widespread bombardment of the black smoke; an exodus of the population of London begins. This includes the narrator's younger brother, a medical student, also unnamed, who flees to the Essex coast after the sudden, panicked, predawn order to evacuate London is given by the authorities, a terrifying and harrowing journey of three days, amongst thousands of similar refugees streaming from London. The brother encounters Mrs. Elphinstone and her younger sister-in-law, just in time to help them fend off three men who are trying to rob them. Since Mrs Elphinstone's husband is missing, the three continue on together. After a terrifying struggle to cross a streaming mass of refugees on the road at Barnet, they head eastward. Two days later, at Chelmsford, their pony is confiscated for food by the local Committee of Public Supply. They press on to Tillingham and the sea. There they manage to buy passage to Continental Europe on a small paddle steamer, part of a vast throng of shipping gathered off the Essex coast to evacuate refugees. The torpedo ram HMS Thunder Child destroys two attacking tripods before being destroyed by the Martians, though this allows the evacuation fleet to escape, including the ship carrying the narrator's brother and his two travelling companions. Shortly thereafter, all organised resistance has ceased, and the Martians roam the shattered landscape unhindered.
At the beginning of Book Two the narrator and the curate are plundering houses in search of food. During this excursion the men witness a Martian fighting-machine enter Kew, seizing any person it finds and tossing them into a "great metallic carrier which projected behind him, much as a workman's basket hangs over his shoulder", and the narrator realises that the Martian invaders may have "a purpose other than destruction" for their victims. At a house in Sheen "a blinding glare of green light" and a loud concussion attend the arrival of the fifth Martian cylinder, and both men are trapped beneath the ruins for two weeks. The narrator's relations with the curate deteriorate over time, and he eventually is forced to knock him unconscious to silence his now loud ranting; but the curate is overheard outside by a Martian, who finally removes his unconscious body with one of its handling machine tentacles. The reader is then led to believe the Martians will perform a fatal transfusion of the curate's blood to nourish themselves, as they have done with other captured victims viewed by the narrator through a small slot in the house's ruins. The narrator just barely escapes detection from the returned foraging tentacle by hiding in the adjacent coal-cellar.
The Martians eventually abandon the cylinder's crater, and the narrator emerges from the collapsed house where he had observed the Martians up close during his ordeal; he then approaches West London. En route, he finds the Martian red weed everywhere, a prickly vegetation spreading wherever there is abundant water. On Putney Heath, he once again encounters the artilleryman, who briefly persuades him of a grandiose plan to rebuild civilisation by living underground; but, after a few hours, the narrator perceives the laziness of his companion and abandons him. Now in a deserted and silent London, he begins to slowly go mad from his accumulated trauma, finally attempting to end it all by openly approaching a stationary fighting-machine. To his surprise, he quickly discovers that all the Martians have been killed by an onslaught of earthly pathogens, to which they had no immunity: "slain, after all man's devices had failed, by the humblest things that God, in his wisdom, has put upon this earth". The narrator continues on, finally suffering a brief but complete nervous breakdown, which affects him for days; he is finally nursed back to health by a kind family. Eventually, he is able to return by train to Woking via a patchwork of newly repaired tracks. At his home, he discovers that his beloved wife has miraculously survived. The last chapter reflects on the significance of the Martian invasion and the "abiding sense of doubt and insecurity" it has left in the narrator's mind.
The War of the Worlds presents itself as a factual account of the Martian invasion. The narrator is a middle-class writer of philosophical papers, somewhat reminiscent of Doctor Kemp in The Invisible Man, with characteristics similar to author Wells at the time of writing. The reader learns very little about the background of the narrator or indeed of anyone else in the novel; characterisation is unimportant. In fact none of the principal characters are named, aside from the astronomer Ogilvy.
Wells trained as a science teacher during the latter half of the 1880s. One of his teachers was T. H. Huxley, famous as a major advocate of Darwinism. He later taught science, and his first book was a biology textbook. He joined the scientific journal Nature as a reviewer in 1894. Much of his work is notable for making contemporary ideas of science and technology easily understandable to readers.
The scientific fascinations of the novel are established in the opening chapter where the narrator views Mars through a telescope, and Wells offers the image of the superior Martians having observed human affairs, as though watching tiny organisms through a microscope. Ironically it is microscopic Earth lifeforms that finally prove deadly to the Martian invasion force. In 1894 a French astronomer observed a 'strange light' on Mars, and published his findings in the scientific journal Nature on the second of August that year. Wells used this observation to open the novel, imagining these lights to be the launching of the Martian cylinders toward Earth. American astronomer Percival Lowell published the book Mars in 1895 suggesting features of the planet's surface observed through telescopes might be canals. He speculated that these might be irrigation channels constructed by a sentient life form to support existence on an arid, dying world, similar to that which Wells suggests the Martians have left behind. The novel also presents ideas related to Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection, both in specific ideas discussed by the narrator, and themes explored by the story.
Wells also wrote an essay titled 'Intelligence on Mars', published in 1896 in the Saturday Review, which sets out many of the ideas for the Martians and their planet that are used almost unchanged in The War of the Worlds. In the essay he speculates about the nature of the Martian inhabitants and how their evolutionary progress might compare to humans. He also suggests that Mars, being an older world than the Earth, might have become frozen and desolate, conditions that might encourage the Martians to find another planet on which to settle.
In 1895 Wells was an established writer and he married his second wife, Catherine Robbins, moving with her to the town of Woking in Surrey. Here he spent his mornings walking or cycling in the surrounding countryside, and his afternoons writing. The original idea for The War of the Worlds came from his brother during one of these walks, pondering on what it might be like if alien beings were suddenly to descend on the scene and start attacking its inhabitants.
Much of The War of the Worlds takes place around Woking and the surrounding area. The initial landing site of the Martian invasion force, Horsell Common, was an open area close to Wells's home. In the preface to the Atlantic edition of the novel he wrote of his pleasure in riding a bicycle around the area, imagining the destruction of cottages and houses he saw, by the Martian heat-ray or their red weed. While writing the novel, Wells enjoyed shocking his friends by revealing details of the story, and how it was bringing total destruction to parts of the South London landscape that were familiar to them. The characters of the artilleryman, the curate, and the brother medical student were also based on acquaintances in Woking and Surrey.
Wells wrote in a letter to Elizabeth Healey about his choice of locations: "I'm doing the dearest little serial for Pearson's new magazine, in which I completely wreck and sack Woking – killing my neighbours in painful and eccentric ways – then proceed via Kingston and Richmond to London, which I sack, selecting South Kensington for feats of peculiar atrocity."
A 7-metre (23 feet) high sculpture of a tripod fighting machine, entitled The Martian, based on descriptions in the novel stands in Crown Passage close to the local railway station in Woking, designed and constructed by artist Michael Condron.
His depiction of suburban late Victorian culture in the novel was an accurate reflection of his own experiences at the time of writing. In the late 19th Century the British Empire was the predominant colonial and naval power on the globe, making its domestic heart a poignant and terrifying starting point for an invasion by Martians with their own imperialist agenda. He also drew upon a common fear which had emerged in the years approaching the turn of the century, known at the time as fin de siècle or 'end of the age', which anticipated apocalypse at midnight on the last day of 1899.
In the late 1890s it was common for novels, prior to full volume publication, to be serialised in magazines or newspapers, with each part of the serialisation ending upon a cliff hanger to entice audiences to buy the next edition. This is a practice familiar from the first publication of Charles Dickens' novels in the nineteenth century. The War of the Worlds was first published in serial form in Pearson's Magazine in April – December 1897. Wells was paid £200 and Pearsons demanded to know the ending of the piece before committing to publish.
The complete volume was published by William Heinemann in 1898 and has been in print ever since.
Two unauthorised serialisations of the novel were published in the United States prior to the publication of the novel. The first was published in the New York Evening Journal between December 1897 and January 1898. The story was published as Fighters from Mars or the War of the Worlds. It changed the location of the story to a New York setting. The second version changed the story to have the Martians landing in the area near and around Boston, and was published by the Boston Post in 1898, which Wells protested against. It was called Fighters from Mars, or the War of the Worlds in and near Boston. Both pirated versions of the story were followed by Edison's Conquest of Mars by Garrett P. Serviss. Even though these versions are deemed as unauthorised serialisations of the novel, it is possible that H. G. Wells may have, without realising it, agreed to the serialisation in the New York Evening Journal.
The War of the Worlds was generally received very favourably by both readers and critics upon its publication. There was however some criticism of the brutal nature of the events in the narrative.
Between 1871 and 1914 over 60 works of fiction for adult readers describing invasions of Great Britain were published. The seminal work was The Battle of Dorking (1871) by George Tomkyns Chesney, an army officer. The book portrays a surprise German attack, with a landing on the South coast of England, made possible by the distraction of the Royal Navy in colonial patrols and the army in an Irish insurrection. The German army makes short work of English militia and rapidly marches to London. The story was published in Blackwood's Magazine in May 1871, and so popular that it was reprinted a month later as a pamphlet which sold 80,000 copies.
The appearance of this literature reflected the increasing feeling of anxiety and insecurity as international tensions between European Imperial powers escalated towards the outbreak of the First World War. Across the decades the nationality of the invaders tended to vary, according to the most acutely perceived threat at the time. In the 1870s the Germans were the most common invaders. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, a period of strain on Anglo-French relations, and the signing of a treaty between France and Russia, the French became the more common menace.
There are a number of plot similarities between Wells's book and The Battle of Dorking. In both books a ruthless enemy makes a devastating surprise attack, with the British armed forces helpless to stop its relentless advance, and both involve the destruction of the Home Counties of southern England. However The War of the Worlds transcends the typical fascination of invasion literature with European politics, the suitability of contemporary military technology to deal with the armed forces of other nations, and international disputes, with its introduction of an alien adversary.
Although much of invasion literature may have been less sophisticated and visionary than Wells's novel, it was a useful, familiar genre to support the publication success of the piece, attracting readers used to such tales. It may also have proved an important foundation for Wells's ideas as he had never seen or fought in a war.
Many novels focusing on life on other planets written close to 1900 echo scientific ideas of the time, including Pierre-Simon Laplace's nebular hypothesis, Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection, and Gustav Kirchhoff's theory of spectroscopy. These scientific ideas combined to present the possibility that planets are alike in composition and conditions for the development of species, which would likely lead to the emergence of life at a suitable geological age in a planet's development.
By the time Wells wrote The War of the Worlds there had been three centuries of observation of Mars through telescopes. Galileo in 1610 observed the planet's phases, and in 1666 Giovanni Cassini identified the polar ice caps. In 1878 Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli observed geological features which he called canali (Italian for "channels"). This was mistranslated into English as "canals" which, being artificial watercourses, fuelled the belief in intelligent extraterrestrial life on the planet. This further influenced American astronomer Percival Lowell.
In 1895 Lowell published a book titled Mars, which speculated about an arid, dying landscape, whose inhabitants built canals to bring water from the polar caps to irrigate the remaining arable land. This formed the most advanced scientific ideas about the conditions on the red planet available to Wells at the time The War of the Worlds was written, but the concept was later proved erroneous by more accurate observation of the planet, and later landings by Russian and American probes such as the two Viking missions, that found a lifeless world too cold for water to exist in its liquid state.
The Martians travel to the Earth in cylinders, apparently fired from a huge space gun on the surface of Mars. This was a common representation of space travel in the nineteenth century, and had also been used by Jules Verne in From the Earth to the Moon. Modern scientific understanding renders this idea impractical, as it would be difficult to control the trajectory of the gun precisely, and the force of the explosion necessary to propel the cylinder from the Martian surface to the Earth would likely kill the occupants.
However, the 16-year-old Robert Goddard was inspired by the story and spent much of his life building rockets. The research into rockets begun by Goddard eventually culminated in the Apollo program's manned landing on the Moon, and the landing of robotic probes on Mars.
The Martian invasion's principal weapons are the Heat-Ray and the poisonous Black Smoke. Their strategy includes the destruction of infrastructure such as armament stores, railways, and telegraph lines; it appears to be intended to cause maximum casualties, leaving humans without any will to resist. These tactics became more common as the twentieth century progressed, particularly during the 1930s with the development of mobile weapons and technology capable of surgical strikes on key military and civilian targets.
Wells's vision of a war bringing total destruction without moral limitations in The War of the Worlds was not taken seriously by readers at the time of publication. He later expanded these ideas in the novels When the Sleeper Wakes (1899), The War in the Air (1908), and The World Set Free (1914). This kind of total war did not become fully realised until the Second World War.
As noted by Howard Black: "In concrete details the Martian Fighting Machines as depicted by Wells have nothing in common with tanks or dive bombers, but the tactical and strategic use made of them is strikingly reminiscent of Blitzkrieg as it would be developed by the German armed forces four decades later. The description of the Martians advancing inexorably, at lightning speed, towards London; the British Army completely unable to put up an effective resistance; the British government disintegrating and evacuating the capital; the mass of terrified refugees clogging the roads, all were to be precisely enacted in real life at 1940 France." Ironically this 1898 prediction came far closer to the actual land fighting of World War II than Wells did much later, much closer to the actual war, in the 1934 The Shape of Things to Come.
Wells's description of chemical weapons – the Black Smoke used by the Martian fighting machines to kill human beings in great numbers – became a reality in World War I. The comparison between lasers and the Heat-Ray was made as early as the later half of the 1950s when lasers were still in development. Prototypes of mobile laser weapons have been developed and are being researched and tested as a possible future weapon in space.
Military theorists of the era, including those of the Royal Navy prior to the First World War, had speculated about building a "fighting-machine" or a "land dreadnought". Wells later further explored the ideas of an armoured fighting vehicle in his short story "The Land Ironclads". There is a high level of science fiction abstraction in Wells's description of Martian automotive technology; he stresses how Martian machinery is devoid of wheels, using the "muscle-like" contractions of metal discs along an axis to produce movement. Electroactive polymers currently being developed for use in sensors and robotic actuators are a close match for Wells' description.
H. G. Wells was a student of Thomas Henry Huxley, a proponent of the theory of natural selection. In the novel, the conflict between mankind and the Martians is portrayed as a survival of the fittest, with the Martians whose longer period of successful evolution on the older Mars has led to them developing a superior intelligence, able to create weapons far in advance of humans on the younger planet Earth, who have not had the opportunity to develop sufficient intelligence to construct similar weapons.
The novel also suggests a potential future for human evolution and perhaps a warning against overvaluing intelligence against more human qualities. The Narrator describes the Martians as having evolved an overdeveloped brain, which has left them with cumbersome bodies, with increased intelligence, but a diminished ability to use their emotions, something Wells attributes to bodily function. The Narrator refers to an 1893 publication suggesting that the evolution of the human brain might outstrip the development of the body, and organs such as the stomach, nose, teeth, and hair would wither, leaving humans as thinking machines, needing mechanical devices much like the Tripod fighting machines, to be able to interact with their environment. This publication is probably Wells's own "The Man of the Year Million", first published in the Pall Mall Gazette on 6 November 1893, which suggests similar ideas.
At the time of the novel's publication the British Empire had conquered and colonised dozens of territories in Africa, Australia, North and South America, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, and the Atlantic and Pacific islands.
While Invasion Literature had provided an imaginative foundation for the idea of the heart of the British Empire being conquered by foreign forces, it was not until The War of the Worlds that the reading public was presented with an adversary completely superior to themselves. A significant motivating force behind the success of the British Empire was its use of sophisticated technology; the Martians, also attempting to establish an empire on Earth, have technology superior to their British adversaries. In The War of the Worlds, Wells depicted an imperial power as the victim of imperial aggression, and thus perhaps encouraging the reader to consider imperialism itself.
Wells suggests this idea in the following passage:
And before we judge them [the Martians] too harshly, we must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as the vanished Bison and the Dodo, but upon its own inferior races. The Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space of fifty years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit?— Chapter I, "The Eve of the War"
Social Darwinism suggested that the success of these different ethnic groups in world affairs, and social classes in a society, were the result of evolutionary struggle in which the group or class more fit to succeed did so; i.e., the ability of an ethnic group to dominate other ethnic groups or the chance to succeed or rise to the top of society was determined by genetic superiority. In more modern times it is typically seen as dubious and unscientific for its apparent use of Darwin's ideas to justify the position of the rich and powerful, or dominant ethnic groups.
Wells himself matured in a society wherein the merit of an individual was not considered as important as their social class of origin. His father was a professional sportsman, which was seen as inferior to 'gentle' status; whereas his mother had been a domestic servant, and Wells himself was, prior to his writing career, apprenticed to a draper. Trained as a scientist, he was able to relate his experiences of struggle to Darwin's idea of a world of struggle; but perceived science as a rational system, which extended beyond traditional ideas of race, class and religious notions, and in fiction challenged the use of science to explain political and social norms of the day.
Good and evil appear relative in The War of the Worlds, and the defeat of the Martians has an entirely material cause: the action of microscopic bacteria. An insane clergyman is important in the novel, but his attempts to relate the invasion to Armageddon seem examples of his mental derangement. His death, as a result of his evangelical outbursts and ravings attracting the attention of the Martians, appears an indictment of his obsolete religious attitudes; but the narrator twice prays to God, and suggests that bacteria may have been divinely allowed to exist on Earth for a reason such as this.
The novel originated several enduring Martian tropes in science fiction writing. These include Mars being an ancient world, nearing the end of its life, being the home of a superior civilisation capable of advanced feats of science and engineering, and also being a source of invasion forces, keen to conquer the Earth. The first two tropes were prominent in Edgar Rice Burroughs "Barsoom" series beginning with A Princess of Mars in 1912.
The publication and reception of The War of the Worlds also established the vernacular term of 'martian' as a description for something offworldly or unknown.
Wells is credited with establishing several extraterrestrial themes which were later greatly expanded by science fiction writers in the 20th Century, including first contact and war between planets and their differing species. There were, however, stories of aliens and alien invasion prior to publication of The War of the Worlds.
In 1727 Jonathan Swift published Gulliver's Travels. The tale included a people who are obsessed with mathematics and more advanced than Europeans scientifically. They populate a floating island fortress called Laputa, 4½ miles in diameter, which uses its shadow to prevent sun and rain from reaching earthly nations over which it travels, ensuring they will pay tribute to the Laputians. Voltaire's Micromégas (1752) includes two beings from Saturn and Sirius who, though human in appearance, are of immense size and visit the Earth out of curiosity. At first they think the planet is uninhabited, due to the difference in scale between them and the peoples of Earth. When they discover the haughty Earth-centric views of Earth philosophers, they are greatly amused by how important Earth beings think they are compared to greater beings in the universe such as themselves.
In 1892 Robert Potter, an Australian clergyman, published The Germ Growers in London. It describes a covert invasion by aliens who take on the appearance of human beings and attempt to develop a virulent disease to assist in their plans for global conquest. It was not widely read, and consequently Wells's vastly more successful novel is generally credited as the seminal alien invasion story.
The first science fiction to be set on Mars may be Across the Zodiac: The Story of a Wrecked Record (1880) by Percy Greg. It was a long-winded book concerned with a civil war on Mars. Another Mars novel, this time dealing with benevolent Martians coming to Earth to give humankind the benefit of their advanced knowledge, was published in 1897 by Kurd Lasswitz – Two Planets (Auf Zwei Planeten). It was not translated until 1971, and thus may not have influenced Wells, although it did depict a Mars influenced by the ideas of Percival Lowell. Other examples are Mr. Stranger's Sealed Packet (1889), which took place on Mars, Gustavus W. Popes's Journey to Mars (1894), and Ellsworth Douglas's Pharaoh's Broker, in which the protagonist encounters an Egyptian civilisation on Mars which, while parallel to that of the Earth, has evolved somehow independently.
Wells had already proposed another outcome for the alien invasion story in The War of the Worlds. When the Narrator meets the artilleryman the second time, the artilleryman imagines a future where humanity, hiding underground in sewers and tunnels, conducts a guerrilla war, fighting against the Martians for generations to come, and eventually, after learning how to duplicate Martian weapon technology, destroys the invaders and takes back the Earth.
Six weeks after publication of the novel, the Boston Post newspaper published another alien invasion story, an unauthorised sequel to The War of the Worlds, which turned the tables on the invaders. Edison's Conquest of Mars was written by Garrett P. Serviss, a now little remembered writer, who described the famous inventor Thomas Edison leading a counterattack against the invaders on their home soil. Though this is actually a sequel to 'Fighters from Mars', a revised and unauthorised reprint of The War of the Worlds, they both were first printed in the Boston Post in 1898. Lazar Lagin published Major Well Andyou in USSR in 1962, an alternative view of events in The War of the Worlds from the viewpoint of a traitor.
The War of the Worlds was reprinted in the United States in 1927, before the Golden Age of science fiction, by Hugo Gernsback in Amazing Stories. John W. Campbell, another key science fiction editor of the era, and periodic short story writer, published several alien invasion stories in the 1930s. Many well known science fiction writers were to follow, including Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Clifford Simak and Robert A. Heinlein with The Puppet Masters and John Wyndham with The Kraken Wakes.
The theme of alien invasion has remained popular to the present day and are frequently used in the plots of all forms of popular entertainment including movies, television, novels, comics and video games. Alan Moore's graphic novel, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume II, retells the events in The War of the Worlds. In the end of the first issue of Marvel Zombies 5, it is revealed that the main characters will visit a world called "Martian Protectorate" where the events of The War of the Worlds are occurring.
The Tripods trilogy of books features a central theme of invasion by alien-controlled tripods.
The War of the Worlds has spawned seven films, as well as various radio dramas, comic-book adaptations, video games, a television series, and sequels or parallel stories by other authors.
The most famous, or infamous, adaptation is the 1938 radio broadcast that was narrated and directed by Orson Welles. The first two-thirds of the 60-minute broadcast were presented as a news bulletin, often described as having led to outrage and panic by listeners who believed the events described in the program to be real. In some versions of the story, up to a million people ran outside in terror. However, later critics point out that the supposed panic was exaggerated by newspapers of the time, seeking to discredit radio as a source of information or exploit racial stereotypes. According to research by A. Brad Schwartz, fewer than 50 Americans seems to have fled outside in the wake of the broadcast and it is not clear how many of them heard the broadcast directly.
In 1953 came the first The War of the Worlds theatrical film produced by George Pal and directed by Byron Haskin, starring Gene Barry. Steven Spielberg directed a 2005 film adaptation starring Tom Cruise, which received generally positive reviews.
In 1978 a best selling musical album of the story was produced by Jeff Wayne, with the voices of Richard Burton and David Essex. Two later, somewhat different live concert musical versions based on the original album have since been mounted by Wayne and toured throughout the UK. Both versions of this stage production utilized narration, lavish projected computer graphics, and a large Martian fighting machine on stage.
In the 1980s a joint American-Canadian venture produced the television series War of the Worlds that ran for two seasons and was a direct sequel to George Pal's 1953 feature film. Its premise was that the Martians had not died off but were instead stored in suspension by the US government and that most people had just forgotten the previous invasion; the accidental awakening of the Martians results in another war.
A 2001 animated series of Justice League begins with a three-part saga called "Secret Origins" and features tripod machines invading and attacking the city.
The Great Martian War 1913–1917 is a 2013 made-for-television science fiction film docudrama that adapts The War of the Worlds and unfolds in the style of an episode of the History TV Channel. The film is an alternate history of World War I in which Europe and its allies, including America, fight the Martian invaders instead of Germany and its allies. The docudrama includes both new and digitally altered film footage shot during the War to End All Wars to establish the scope of the interplanetary conflict. The film's original 2013 UK broadcast was during the first year of the World War I centennial; the first US cable TV broadcast came in 2014, almost 10 months later.
In the spring of 2017, the BBC announced that it will be producing in 2018 a Victorian period, three-episode mini-series adaptation of the Wells novel.
Colin Morgan (Merlin, Humans) stars in The Coming of the Martians, a faithful audio dramatisation of H. G. Wells' classic 1897 story, directed by Lisa Bowerman and adapted by Nick Scovell, will be released in July 2018 by Sherwood Sound Studios as a Collector's USB Edition, Limited Edition DVD, 2-Disc CD and Download format. It will be produced in native 5.1 surround sound.
There is also a novel adaptation, set in Victorian Britain of 1898 about HMS Thunder Child, called The Last Days of Thunder Child by C.A. Powell. ISBN 978-1484088265
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).Fighting machine (The War of the Worlds)
The Fighting Machine (also known as "Tripod") is one of the fictional machines used by the Martians in H.G. Wells' 1898 classic science fiction novel The War of the Worlds. It is a fast-moving, three-legged walker, reported to be 100 feet tall, with multiple whip-like tentacles used for grasping, and two lethal weapons: the heat-ray and a gun-like tube used for discharging canisters of a poisonous chemical black smoke that kills humans and animals. It is the primary machine the Martians use when they invade Earth, along with the handling machine, the flying machine, and the embankment machine.Grover's Mill, New Jersey
Grover's Mill is an unincorporated community located within West Windsor Township, in Mercer County, New Jersey, United States. The community was made famous in Orson Welles' 1938 radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds, where it was depicted as the epicenter of a Martian invasion, on October 30 of that year.
There have been numerous references in fiction, including The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, the Wild Cards book series, and a town called Miller's Grove in The X-Files episode "War of the Coprophages". In issue 11 of DC Comics' The Shadow Strikes (1989), The Shadow teams up with a radio announcer named Grover Mills, a character based on the young Orson Welles, who has been impersonating The Shadow on the radio. Welles played the Shadow on radio prior to the War of the Worlds broadcast. An episode of the War of the Worlds TV series takes place in Grover's Mill on the 50th anniversary of the Welles radio drama, and expands on the town's ties to the infamous broadcast. An episode of the show Ben 10: Alien Force also takes place in a farm called Grover's Mill. The video game Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions has Grover's Mill as the location where the villain Hammerhead finds a fragment of the Tablet of Order and Chaos. Grover's Mill is also a 2006 film shot in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds (comics)
H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds is a comic adaptation of H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds by Ian Edginton and D'Israeli. The same team earlier created the comic Scarlet Traces, and several characters from it can be seen in this series, as well as this series reusing the designs of the Martians and their machines.
In July 2006, Pendragon Pictures announced in a press release that the comic possessed visual similarities to Pendragon's film H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds. Pendragon set up a website poll showing image comparisons. In April 2008, the company publicly announced the legal settlement of the matter, stating it "apologizes for any misconception its press release or later internet poll may have caused."Handling machine (The War of the Worlds)
The Handling machine is one of the fictional machines used by the Martians in H. G. Wells' science fiction novel The War of the Worlds. It is a crawling device used by the Martians to lift and manipulate other objects. It is one of the four types of heavy machine the Martians bring with them when they invade Earth, along with the fighting machine, the flying machine, and the embankment machine.Jeff Wayne
Jeffry "Jeff" Wayne (born 1 July 1943) is an American-born naturalized British composer, musician and lyricist. In 1978 he released Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds, his musical adaptation of H. G. Wells' science-fiction novel The War of the Worlds. Wayne wrote approximately 3,000 advertising jingles in the 1970s which appeared on television in the United Kingdom, notably a Gordon's Gin commercial which was covered by The Human League. Wayne also composed numerous well-known television themes, including Good Morning Britain (TV-am), ITV's The Big Match and World of Sport, BBC's Sixty Minutes, and for 24 years, the UK's first news radio station, LBC.
Wayne wrote feature film and documentary film scores and was musical director for various artists. Wayne published a book called The Book of Tennis and created, produced and scored eight thirty-minute episodes of The Book of Tennis Chronicles that was distributed by Fox Sports in approximately twenty countries, and was broadcast in the US on The Tennis Channel between 2005 and 2008.Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds
Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds is the debut album by Jeff Wayne, retelling the story of The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, released in the UK 9 June 1978. A concept album, its main format is progressive rock and string orchestra, using narration and leitmotifs to carry the story and rhyming melodic lyrics that express the feelings of the various characters. The two-disc album remains a bestseller, having sold millions of records around the world, and by 2009 it was the 40th best selling album of all time in the UK with sales of 2,561,286. It has since spawned multiple versions of the album, video games, DVDs, and live tours.Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds – The New Generation
Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds – The New Generation is a 2012 concept album by Jeff Wayne and is a re-imagining of his 1978 concept album, retelling the story of The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. As previously, the music format is predominantly progressive rock and string orchestra, but with synthesizers playing a more prominent role. The music is intermixed with re-voiced narration and leitmotifs to carry the story forward via rhyming melodic lyrics that express the feelings of the various characters. Due to the consistent popularity of the original album, Wayne decided to return to his score and re-create it for a new generation of audiences, as well as re-launch a live tour throughout the United Kingdom and Europe.Jeff Wayne's The War of the Worlds (1998 video game)
Jeff Wayne's The War of the Worlds is a real-time strategy video game developed by Rage Software Limited and released for Windows-based PCs in 1998. It is based on Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds — which is itself based on H. G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds.
In 1999, another game of the same name was released for the Sony PlayStation. The 1999 game reuses the 1998 game's graphics and music, but features entirely different gameplay: it is a third-person shooter with a focus on vehicular combat.
The game includes remixed instrumental versions of some songs from the 1978 album. It also re-uses Richard Burton's voice recordings during the Human campaign intro and ending scenes.Martian (The War of the Worlds)
The Martians, also known as the Invaders, are the fictional race of extraterrestrials from the H.G. Wells novel The War of the Worlds. They are the main antagonists of the novel, and their efforts to exterminate the populace of England (and later the Earth) and claim the planet for themselves drive the plot and present challenges for the novel's human characters. They are notable for their use of extraterrestrial weaponry far in advance of that of mankind at the time of the invasion.Orson Welles (crater)
Orson Welles is an impact crater in the Coprates quadrangle of Mars, located at 0.2° S and 45.9° W. It is 124.5 kilometers in diameter and was named after Orson Welles (1915–1985), an American radio and motion picture actor and director. He is famous for, among other things, his radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells in which Martians invade Earth. The layers and the clay minerals found in Orson Welles Crater are evidence that it once contained a lake.The War of the Worlds (1953 film)
The War of the Worlds (also known in promotional material as H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds) is a 1953 American Technicolor science fiction drama film from Paramount Pictures, produced by George Pal, directed by Byron Haskin, and starring Gene Barry and Ann Robinson.
The film is a loose adaptation of the novel of the same name by H. G. Wells, the first of five film adaptations. It is a modern retelling of the 1897 novel, changing the setting from Victorian era-England to 1953 southern California. Earth is suddenly and unexpectedly invaded by Martians and American scientist Clayton Forrester searches for any weakness that can stop them.
The War of the Worlds won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and went on to influence other science fiction films. In 2011, it was selected for preservation in the United States' National Film Registry in the Library of Congress, being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".The War of the Worlds (1984 video game)
The War of the Worlds, titled on screen as Jeff Wayne's The War of the Worlds and on the cover as Jeff Wayne's Video Game Version of The War of the Worlds is a ZX Spectrum video game developed and released by CRL Group in 1984. The game is based upon the 1978 concept album, itself based on H.G. Wells' book The War of the Worlds.
Gameplay required the player to visit a series of sites in and around London, by moving a person using cursor keys or a joystick, and occasionally making choices such as whether to hide, run or stand still.
The game was something of a failure, being unpopular with reviewers because it ran very slowly. The player was often killed (hunger and thirst being common causes of death) and forced to begin the adventure from scratch.
Original 2-page magazine advertisements stated 'available for ZX Spectrum' but also had a list of other formats the game was 'to be created for' including the Commodore 64, Oric Atmos, BBC Micro and Acorn Electron but no other versions were completed.The War of the Worlds (miniseries)
The War of the Worlds is a three part drama produced by Mammoth Screen for the BBC, coproduced with Creasun Media, in association with Red Square. This new adaptation of H.G. Wells' seminal tale — the first alien invasion story in literature — follows George (Rafe Spall) and his partner Amy (Eleanor Tomlinson) as they attempt to defy society and start a life together, and face the escalating terror of an alien invasion, fighting for their lives against an enemy beyond their comprehension. Filming began in Liverpool in April 2018.The War of the Worlds (radio drama)
"The War of the Worlds" is an episode of the American radio drama anthology series The Mercury Theatre on the Air directed and narrated by actor and future filmmaker Orson Welles as an adaptation of H. G. Wells's novel The War of the Worlds (1898). It was performed and broadcast live as a Halloween episode at 8 p.m. on Sunday, October 30, 1938 over the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network. The episode became famous for causing panic among its listening audience, but the scale of that panic is disputed, as the program had relatively few listeners.The one-hour program began with the theme music for the Mercury Theatre on the Air and an announcement that the evening's show was an adaption of The War of the Worlds. This was followed by a prologue read by Orson Welles which was closely based on the opening of H.G. Wells' novel but updated to state the story events were taking place in 1939. The next half hour of the broadcast was presented as typical evening of radio programming which was interrupted by a series of news bulletins. The first few bulletins interrupt a program of dance music and describe a series of odd explosions observed on Mars. This is followed by a seemingly unrelated report of an unusual object falling on a farm in Grover's Mill, New Jersey. Another brief musical interlude is interrupted by a live report from Grover's Mill, where police officials and a crowd of curious onlookers have surrounded the strange cylindrical object which has fallen from the sky. The situation quickly escalates when Martians emerge from the cylinder and attack using a heat-ray, abruptly cutting off the panicked reporter at the scene. This is followed by a rapid series of increasingly alarming news updates detailing a devastating alien invasion taking place around the world and the futile efforts of the U.S. military to stop it. This portion of the show climaxes with another live report describing giant Martian war machines releasing clouds of poisonous smoke in New York City, after which the program took its first break. During the second half of the show, the program shifts to a more conventional radio drama format and follows a survivor dealing with the aftermath of the invasion and Martian occupation of Earth. As in the original novel, the story ends with the discovery that the Martians have been defeated by microbes rather than by humans.
The illusion of realism was furthered because the Mercury Theatre on the Air was a sustaining show without commercial interruptions, and the first break in the program came almost 30 minutes after the introduction. Popular legend holds that some of the radio audience may have been listening to The Chase and Sanborn Hour with Edgar Bergen and tuned in to "The War of the Worlds" during a musical interlude, thereby missing the clear introduction that the show was a drama; however, contemporary research suggests that this happened only in rare instances.In the days after the adaptation, widespread outrage was expressed in the media. The program's news-bulletin format was described as deceptive by some newspapers and public figures, leading to an outcry against the broadcasters and calls for regulation by the Federal Communications Commission. Nevertheless, the episode secured Welles's fame as a dramatist.War of the Worlds (2005 film)
War of the Worlds is a 2005 American science-fiction action horror film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Josh Friedman and David Koepp, loosely based on the 1898 novel of the same title by H. G. Wells and jointly produced and released by Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures. It stars Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Justin Chatwin, Miranda Otto, and Tim Robbins, with narration by Morgan Freeman. In the film, an American dock worker is forced to look after his children, from whom he lives separately, as he struggles to protect them and reunite them with their mother when extraterrestrials invade the Earth and devastate cities with towering war machines.
The film was shot in 73 days, using five different sound stages as well as locations in California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia. The film was surrounded by a secrecy campaign so few details would be leaked before its release. Tie-in promotions were made with several companies, including Hitachi. The film was released in the United States on June 29 and in United Kingdom on July 1. War of the Worlds received positive reviews from critics and was a box office success, becoming 2005's fourth most successful film both domestically and worldwide, with $234 million in North America, and $591 million overall. The film earned three Academy Awards nominations for Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Editing.War of the Worlds (TV series)
War of the Worlds is a Canadian/American science-fiction television series that ran for two seasons, from October 7, 1988 to May 14, 1990. The series is a sequel to the 1953 film The War of the Worlds, a loose adaptation of the novel of the same title by H. G. Wells, using the same war machine designs and often incorporating aspects from the film, radio adaptation, and the original novel into its mythology.
Though the original film's producer, George Pal, envisioned a TV series from the same film sometime in the 1970s, it was not until the late 1980s that a series was finally realized, this time by television producer Greg Strangis. The show was a part of the boom of first-run syndicated television series being produced at the time. It was later shown in reruns on the Sci Fi Channel.
The series was filmed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.