Science Fiction History: 1898 H.G. Wells Writes the War of the Worlds

About the 1898 sci-fi novel War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells.

--1898. H. G. (for Herbert George) Wells, the son of a supremely unsuccessful English shopkeeper, and himself one of the 1st science fiction writers to have been a practicing scientist (he studied under Darwin's friend, Huxley), wrote The War of the Worlds. The worlds were the earth and Mars, and the inhabitants of Mars had "minds that are to our minds as ours are to the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic." Here, for the 1st time (and while Britain was still conquering its empire), inhabitants of another planet attempted to conquer the earth--and (almost another 1st) perished as the result of early microorganisms to which they had no resistance. The War of the Worlds was 40 years later to be the subject of a famous and terrifying radio dramatization produced by Orson Welles. H. G. Wells departed from the anthropomorphic tradition in making his Martians not at all humanlike in form--although he hinted that they might once have been so but were changed by evolution. In having his Martians shot to earth in giant cylinders fired by presumably giant cannons, H. G. Wells was probably influenced by Jules Verne, who had shot his earthmen to the moon in the same way. Verne, on reading Wells, is said to have exclaimed indignantly, "Il invente!"

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