H. G. Wells

The War of the Worlds

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The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells - is a science fiction novel by English author H. G. Wells. It was written between 1895 and 1897, and serialised in Pearson's Magazine in the UK and Cosmopolitan magazine in the US in 1897. The full novel was first published in hardcover in 1898 by William Heinemann. The War of the Worlds is one of the earliest stories to detail a conflict between humankind and an extraterrestrial race. The novel is the first-person narrative of an unnamed protagonist in Surrey and his younger brother in London as southern England is invaded by Martians and is one of the most commented-on works in the science fiction canon. The plot is similar to other works of invasion literature from the same period, and has been variously interpreted as a commentary on the theory of evolution, British colonialism, and Victorian-era fears, superstitions and prejudices. Wells later noted that inspiration for the plot was the catastrophic effect of European colonisation on the Aboriginal Tasmanians. Some historians have argued that Wells wrote the book to encourage his readership to question the morality of imperialism. At the time of publication, it was classified as a scientific romance, like Wells's earlier novel, The Time Machine. Plot: Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. -_H. G. Wells (1898), The War of the Worlds The novel opens in the mid-1890s, with aliens on Mars plotting an invasion of Earth because their resources were dwindling. The main narrative begins when an object thought to be a meteor lands on Horsell Common, near the narrator's home. It turns out to be an artificial cylinder. Martians emerge briefly, but have difficulty coping with Earth's atmosphere and gravity. When humans approach the cylinder with a white flag, the Martians incinerate them. Military forces arrive that night. The next day, the narrator takes his wife to safety in Leatherhead. That night, he sees a three-legged Martian "fighting-machine" (tripod), armed with a heat-ray and a chemical weapon: the poisonous "black smoke". Tripods have wiped out the army around the cylinder and destroyed most of Woking. The narrator and a fleeing artilleryman try to escape, but are separated during a Martian attack. As refugees try to cross the River Thames, the army destroys a tripod, and the Martians retreat. The narrator travels to Walton, where he meets a curate. The Martians attack again and people begin to flee London, including the narrator's brother, who travels with a Mrs Elphinstone and her sister-in-law to keep them safe. They reach the coast and buy passage to Continental Europe. Tripods attack, but a torpedo ram, HMS Thunder Child, destroys two of them before being destroyed itself, and the evacuation fleet escapes. Soon, all organised resistance collapses, and Martians roam the shattered landscape unhindered.
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6 hours 49 minutes
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