First published in 1898, The War of the Worlds was, and remains, one of H.G. Wells's finest works. Forty years later, a radio broadcast from Wells's tale fooled thousands into thinking the East Coast had fallen victim to Martian attack. When a small cylinder crashes just outside London, onlookers are not prepared for what is about to be unleashed. Shortly after the onslaught begins, Earth fights back but is quickly brushed aside as the Martians destroy everything in their path. Soon London is evacuated and the hope mankind survives disappears. ...at the turn of the century and the mentalities of society back then, no one had entertained the idea of an extraterrestrial invasion before. Period. - Nicholas Grabowsky, from his introduction
This is the granddaddy of all alien invasion stories, first published by H.G. Wells in 1898. The novel begins ominously, as the lone voice of a narrator tells readers that "No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's..."
Things then progress from a series of seemingly mundane reports about odd atmospheric disturbances taking place on Mars to the arrival of Martians just outside of London. At first the Martians seem laughable, hardly able to move in Earth's comparatively heavy gravity even enough to raise themselves out of the pit created when their spaceship landed. But soon the Martians reveal their true nature as death machines 100-feet tall rise up from the pit and begin laying waste to the surrounding land. Wells quickly moves the story from the countryside to the evacuation of London itself and the loss of all hope as England's military suffers defeat after defeat. With horror his narrator describes how the Martians suck the blood from living humans for sustenance, and how it's clear that man is not being conquered so much a corralled. --Craig E. Engler