H. G. Wells's The War of the Worlds, the first story to speculate about the consequences of aliens (from Mars) with superior technology landing on earth, is one of the most influential science fiction books ever written. The novel is both a thrilling narrative and an elaboration of Wells's socio-political thought on the subjects of imperialism, humankind's treatment of other animals, and unquestioning faith in military technology and the continuation of the human species. This edition's appendices include other related writings by Wells; selected correspondence; contemporary reviews; excerpts from works that influenced the novel and from contemporary invasion narratives; and photographs of examples of Victorian military technology.
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