The War of the Worlds

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Wells, H. G. The War of the Worlds. London, UK: Heinemann, 1898, from 1897 serialization in Cosmopolitan (in the USA) and Pearson's Magazine (in the UK). Frequently rpt.[1]

See for Martian spacecraft and war machines vs. Terran technology, and the Martian victory until they are wiped out by microscopic Terran pathogens. See in Drama Category the Orson Welles radio broadcast of 30 Oct. 1938, the films WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953) and WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005), and note shifting of imaging of the Martian machines and weapons technology, including the eerily beautiful manta ray model from the more or less Modernist 1953 movie.[2].

See I. F. Clarke's Voices Prophesying War for War of the Worlds as the "most forceful tale of the Martian invasion of earth [...] still better than any of the tales of interplanetary warfare that gave derived from the great success of the prototype. In fact, The War of the Worlds is the perfect nineteenth-century myth of the imaginary war; it says many things about war in many different ways" (ch. 3, p. 84) — ways Clarke goes on to discuss in detail, starting with the Tasmanian extermination and the pattern that genocide suggests when societies at different levels of technological development encounter one another, and one of the societies is ambitious, murderous, and, in the case of the Martians, very much in need of a new, warmer world: "'To carry warfare sunward is indeed their only escape from the destruction that generation after generation creeps upon them'" (p. 85, quoting War of the Worlds, 1926 edn. p. 11). Note especially,

The warriors may have come from Mars for the purpose of the fiction; but their terrible weapons and the immense destruction they caused might one day emerge from Western industrialism, if science were to create the most lethal possible armoury. The marvels of the poisonous Black Smoke, the Heat Ray, the remarkable Handling Machines [...] all came from the immensely fertile imagination of Wells as he thought with a fear [...] of the destruction that would follow on a full-scale industrialized war. (p. 85) * * *

[With the rout of the English] The War of the Worlds parts company with the mass of imaginary war fiction as it had developed since the time of The Battle of Dorking; for Wells's story transcends all the limitations of national politics, international disputes, and contemporary armaments that had engaged the attention of most practitioners in this field. A scientific education, a logical mind, an exceptionally rich and original imagination had acted on his intense realization of incessant change to create this vision of the possible. Behind it there was a two-stage logic, which began with Wells giving the invaders everything any army could hope for in terms of protection, speed, and fire-power. For Britain the consequences were total defeat, roads crowded with terrified refugees, and the abandoned city of London. For these reasons, and because of the high quality of the narrative, The War of the Worlds is still the most remarkable fantasy of imaginary warfare that hs so far appeared in the history of the genre. (ch. 3, p. 86)

RDE, initial, expanded 15Dec20