The War of the Worlds ~

The War of the Worlds

 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 extra-terrestrial 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 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 emerge briefly, but have difficulty in coping with the Earth's atmosphere and gravity, and so retreat rapidly into their cylinder.