The War of the Worlds

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"...and slowly and surely they drew their plans against us..."

The War of the Worlds is an early science fiction novel first published in 1898 by HG Wells. It was notable for being the first story about an alien invasion, involving a species of large brain-like creatures from Mars invading Victorian England using massive tripedal fighting machines armed with heat rays and chemical weapons. The invading Martians, while able to quickly defeat the British military's attempt to repel them, eventually succumbed to Earth's diseases.

The story itself focuses on an unnamed survivor of the invasion who observes the destruction and effects on the English countryside wrought by the invading Martians. The story of The War of the Worlds is primarily a criticism of 19th-century Imperialism and was inspired by 19th century "invasion literature".

Being the first well-known story to involve invaders from space, The War of the Worlds is commonly referenced thematically or story-wise in fiction relating to alien invasions. As it is well known, The War of the Worlds is the subject of the occasional versus or RAR! scenario on's forums.

Martian Threat Assessment

The Martians from War of the Worlds rank rather low as an interplanetary threat. Their spacecraft are not only limited to in-system use; they are simple ballistic projectiles. While a small number of Martians managed to devastate Victorian England, the human forces managed to destroy several of their fighting machines using late 19th century cannons and artillery.

Martian forces found in film adaptations are more formidable, dominating the human resistance with superior weapons and energy shields. They still lack any means of interstellar travel, though, limiting their ability to threaten other civilizations.

Radio Adaptations

Orson Welles famously produced a radio play based on the story in 1938 on Halloween. He modified the setting to the invasion beginning in Grover's Mill, New Jersey. The play is famous for causing a slight panic for listeners that happened to tune in mid-broadcast, thinking that the play was actual news reports.

Film Adaptations

  • The War of the Worlds (1953, Byron Haskin)
  • The War of the Worlds (2005, Stephen Spielberg)

External links