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The War of the Worlds

H.G. Wells

Date of publication: 1898

This science fiction novel describes an invasion of England by aliens from Mars. It is one of the earliest and best-known depictions of an alien invasion of Earth, and has influenced many others, as well as spawning several films, a radio drama and a television series based on the story. The 1938 radio broadcast caused public outcry against the episode, as many listeners believed that an actual Martian invasion was in progress, a notable example of mass hysteria.

Plot Summary

The story is set in the early twentieth century, and begins with the unnamed narrator, a writer of speculative scientific articles, visiting an observatory in Ottershaw on the invitation of a "noted astronomer" named Ogilvy. There he witnesses an explosion on the surface of the planet Mars, one of a series of such events that arouses much interest in the scientific community. An unspecified time later, a "meteor" is seen landing on Horsell Common, near London. The narrator's home is close by, and he is among the first to discover the object is a space-going artificial cylinder launched from Mars. The cylinder opens, disgorging the Martians: bulky, tentacled creatures that begin setting up strange machinery in the cylinder's impact crater. A human deputation moves towards the crater and is incinerated by an invisible ray of heat.
(From Wikipedia, description text under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License)

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