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The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

The classic science fiction novel, The War of the Worlds was first serialized by Pearson’s Magazine in the UK between April and December of 1897. It was edited together into a book length novel the next year. Written between 1895 and 1897, it is one of the earliest stories about an invasion of the Earth by extraterrestrials.

Book Details

Book Details

The War of the Worlds has inspired a number of movies and television series. The most famous recreation of the story was an episode of the American radio drama anthology series The Mercury Theatre on the Air directed and narrated by Orson Welles. The hour long radio drama was performed and broadcast live as a Halloween episode at 8 p.m. on Sunday, October 30, 1938, over the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network. The episode became famous for allegedly causing panic among its listening audience, though the scale of that panic is disputed. In the days after the adaptation, widespread outrage was expressed in the media. The program’s news-bulletin format was described as deceptive by some newspapers and public figures, leading to an outcry against the broadcasters and calls for regulation by the Federal Communications Commission.

The broadcast can be heard here.

WarOfTheWorldsNYT The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

This version of The War of the Worlds reproduces the 1897 Pearson’s Magazine serial edition with all 66 original illustrations included.

I.—The Eve Of The War.
II.—The Falling Star.
III.—On Horsell Common.
IV.—The Cylinder Unscrews

Part 2
V.—The Heat Ray.
VI.—The Heat Ray In The Chobham Road.
VII.—How I Came Home.
VIII.—Friday Night.

Part 3
IX.—The Fighting Begins.
X.—In The Storm.
XI.—At The Window.

Part 4
XII.—What I Saw Of The Destruction Of Weybridge And Shepperton.
XIII.—How I Fell In With The Curate.

Part 5
XIV.—In London.
XV.—What Had Happened In Surrey.

Part 6
XV.—What Had Happened In Surrey (continued).
XVI.—The Exodus From London.

Part 7
XVII.—The Thunder-Child.
XVIII.—London Under The Martians.

Part 8
XIX.—What We Saw From The Ruined House.
XX.—The Death Of The Curate.
XXI.—After The Fifteen Days.

Part 9
XXI.—After The Fifteen Days (continued).
XXII.—The Epilogue.

Herbert George Wells was born in Bromley, Kent, England on September 21, 1866. He died August 13, 1946 (aged 79) in Regent’s Park, London. He is often called a “father of science fiction”, along with Jules Verne and Hugo Gernsback.

The War of the Worlds contains all 67 illustrations from the Pearson’s Magazine nine-part serial beginning in April, 1897. The illustrations were by Warwick Goble (1862-1943).

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  1. HGWells-WarOfTheWorlds.epub
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Excerpt: The War of the Worlds

I.—The Eve Of The War.

NO one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that human affairs were being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their affairs they were scrutinised and studied perhaps almost as closely as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.

With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this little globe about their affairs, dreaming themselves the highest creatures in the whole vast universe, and serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is just possible that the infusoria under he microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the Older Worlds of Space, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. At most, terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, probably inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. 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 up their plans against us. And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.

The planet Mars, I may remind the reader, revolves about the sun at a mean distance of 140,000,000 miles, and the light and heat it receives from the sun is scarcely half of that received by this world. It must be, if the nebular hypothesis has any truth, older than our world, and long before this earth ceased to be molten, life upon its surface must have begun its course. The fact that it is scarcely one seventh of the volume of the earth must have accelerated its cooling to the temperature at which life could begin. It has air and water, and all that is necessary for the support of animated existence.

Yet so vain is man, and so blinded by his vanity, that no writer up to the very end of the nineteenth century expressed any idea that intelligent life might have developed there, far, or indeed at all, beyond its earthly level. Nor was it generally understood that since Mars is older than our earth, with scarcely a quarter of the superficial area, and remoter from the sun, it necessarily followed that it was not only more distant from life’s beginning there but nearer its end.

The secular cooling that must some day overtake our planet has already gone far indeed with our neighbour. Its physical condition is still largely a mystery, but we know now that even in its equatorial region the midday temperature barely approaches that of our coolest winter. Its air is much more attenuated than ours, its oceans have shrunk until they cover but a third of its surface, huge snowcaps gather and melt about either pole as its slow seasons change, and periodically inundate its temperate zones. That last stage of exhaustion which to us is still incredibly remote, has become a present-day problem for the inhabitants of Mars.

The immediate pressure of necessity has brightened their intellects, enlarged their powers, and hardened their hearts. And looking across space, with instruments and intelligences such as we can only dream of vaguely, they see at its nearest distance, only 35,000,000 of miles sunward of them, a morning star of hope, our own warmer planet, green with vegetation and grey with water, with a cloudy atmosphere eloquent of fertility, with glimpses through its drifting cloud wisps, of broad stretches of populous country and narrow navy-crowded seas.

And we men, the creatures who inhabit this earth, must be to them at least as alien and as lowly as are the monkeys and lemurs to us. The intellectual side of man already admits that life is an incessant struggle for existence, and it would seem that in the final issue the same is the belief of the minds upon Mars.

Their world is far gone in its cooling, and this world is still palpitating and crowded with life, but crowded only with what they regard as inferior animals. To carry warfare sunward is their only escape from the destruction that generation by generation creeps upon them.

And before we judge of them too harshly in their invasion we must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought not only upon animals, such as the vanished bison and the dodo, but upon its own inferior races. The Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants in the space of fifty years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians turned against us?

The Martians seemed to have calculated their descent with amazing subtlety —their mathematical learning is evidently far in excess of ours—and to have carried out their preparations with a well-nigh perfect unanimity. Had our instruments only permitted it we might have seen the gathering trouble far back in the nineteenth century. Men like Schiaparelli watched the red planet—it is odd, by the bye, that for countless centuries Mars has been the star of War—but failed to interpret the fluctuating appearances of the markings they mapped so well. All that time the Martians must have been getting ready.

During the opposition of 1894 a great light was seen on the illuminated part of the disc, first by Perrotin, of the Nice observatory, and then by other observers. English readers heard of it first in the issue of Nature dated August 2nd. I am inclined to think that the appearance may have been the casting of the huge gun, the vast pit sunk into their planet, from which their shots were fired at us. Peculiar markings, as yet unexplained, were seen near the site of that outbreak during the next two oppositions.

The storm burst upon us six years ago now. As Mars approached opposition, Lavelle of Java set the wires of the astronomical exchange palpitating with the amazing intelligence of a huge outbreak of incandescent gas upon the planet. It had occurred towards midnight of the twelfth, and the spectroscope to which he had at once resorted indicated a mass of flaming gas, chiefly hydrogen, moving at an enormous velocity towards this earth. This jet of fire had become invisible about a quarter-past twelve. He compared it to a colossal puff of flame, suddenly and violently squirted out of the planet, “as flaming gas rushes out of a gun.”

A singularly appropriate phrase it proved.

Excerpt From: H.G. Wells. “The War of the Worlds.”

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