The War of the Worlds
by H.G. Wells
The War of the Worlds Technology and Modernization Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Volume.Chapter.Paragraph)
Henderson went into the railway station at once, in order to telegraph the news to London. The newspaper articles had prepared men's minds for the reception of the idea. (1.2.21)
This sort of statement about how strongly our world relies on technology appears all over the place in The War of the Worlds. Let's take a moment to mark all three technologies mentioned here: the railway station, which makes travel much quicker that it was before; the telegraph, which makes it much quicker to send and receive information; and the newspapers, which you might not even think of as technology, but which might be the most impressive one of all. Think about all the machinery that you need to create a newspaper (journalists sending stories through the telegraph wires, giant printing presses making thousands of copies) and then distribute the papers (from newsboys to trains).
It is still a matter of wonder how the Martians are able to slay men so swiftly and so silently. Many think that in some way they are able to generate an intense heat in a chamber of practically absolute non-conductivity. This intense heat they project in a parallel beam against any object they choose, by means of a polished parabolic mirror of unknown composition, much as the parabolic mirror of a lighthouse projects a beam of light. But no one has absolutely proved these details. (1.6.1)
If you wanted diagrams of how new technology works, Wells is not really the guy to go to. (You probably want Jules Verne for that.) That doesn't mean Wells just wants to wave a wand and say, "Poof, the Heat-Ray works by magic." No, he wants you to take this thing seriously. Here he's giving us a bunch of details so that we take it seriously, while still noting that there's a lot of mystery involved. (And really, what technology doesn't involve mystery?)
"Fresh attempts have been made to signal, but without success," was the stereotyped formula of the papers. (1.9.20)
Like the first quote in this section, we've got a stealthy reminder of how technology structures our lives and thoughts – "the stereotyped formula" isn't something that just gets used in the papers, but probably gets repeated by people. Also, we could note that the humans have made a serious error here in thinking that the Martians communicate the same way we do.