War of the Worlds

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A Science Fiction fantasy by H. G. Wells, published 1898. It describes the arrival of the Martians in Woking, driven from their own planet by its progressive cooling to take refuge in a warmer world. In a letter Wells described his plan for the work, in which: ‘I completely wreck and sack Woking—killing my neighbours in painful and eccentric ways—then proceed via Kingston and Richmond to London, selecting South Kensington for feats of peculiar atrocity’; much of the novel's power depends on the contrast between the familiar stupid bourgeois complacent reactions of the humans and the terrifying destructive intelligence of the Martians, which consist of round bodies, each about 4 feet in diameter, each body containing a huge brain. They live by the injection into themselves of the fresh living blood of other creatures, mostly of human beings, and they devastate the country before eventually falling victims to terrestrial bacteria. A broadcast by Orson Welles of a dramatization of the novel in the US on 30 Oct. 1938 caused a furore, many of its millions of listeners taking it for a factual report of the invasion by Martians of New Jersey.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

H. G. Wells (1866—1946) novelist and social commentator

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