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The War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds


by H.G. Wells

Analysis: Trivia

Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge

Although the Nazis never invaded Britain, they did come up with a detailed plan, including a list of people to arrest (and possibly execute). The list included some political figures like Churchill but also some writers, including H.G. Wells. Luckily for Wells, England remained uninvaded (source).

Wells wasn't the first to think that there might be intelligent life on Mars. In fact, in the late 19th century, Mars was a very popular subject in newspapers and magazines, and the idea that it might be inhabited was common enough to be used in an old ad for soap from 1893, well before Wells' Martians invaded Earth.

There have been several radio adaptations of The War of the Worlds, like the Orson Welles adaptation that started a panic. However, a much worse panic happened in Quito, Ecuador in 1949. As usual, the adapters updated the story and changed it to the local area, and, as usual, some people ran out into the streets. Where this one differed is that, when the rioters learned that it was just a radio drama, they burned down the radio station and twenty people were killed. The army and the police couldn't stop the rioters in time because they were busy preparing for the Martian invasion (source).

Although The War of the Worlds was already being printed in America (in the magazine Cosmopolitan), the New York Journal apparently wanted to print it too, and made a deal with Wells to do so without altering anything. But then they totally changed it. As in, they changed the location so that the Martians were destroying New York (which is fairly standard – what alien invasion movie these days doesn't involve New York?), and they cut out just about all the ordinary scenes. So, The War of the Worlds in the New York Journal was mostly scenes of Martians tearing up New York (source).

Not wanting to be left out, The Boston Post asked Wells for permission to print The War of the Worlds, and likewise went against his wishes by changing it. In this version, the Martians are destroying – you guessed it – Boston, and curiously, they're generally following the path that the British soldiers took during the American Revolution. This version went into exacting detail about what was destroyed (like the Minuteman statue). This version was most special because it led to a sequel, of sorts (source).

We're 100% serious about this one, as ridiculous as it might sound. Garrett P. Serviss (who wrote some other science fiction stories that are considered okay) penned a sequel to War of the Worlds entitled Edison's Conquest of Mars. This sequel is not considered okay. Actually, it's hilariously awful. As the title would lead you to believe, the sequel involves Thomas Edison, who, along with some famous international scientists, invents anti-gravity spaceships and disintegrating rays. Then they decide to go kick some Martian butt. Weirdly, it turns out that the Martians aren't all brain and hand, as they are in the Wells story, but giants who otherwise seem pretty human. Also, it turns out that they kidnapped people thousands of years ago, so this attack on Mars turns into a rescue mission. It's really amazing how much nonsense is packed into one story (source).

The gimmick of Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is, "What if all the crazy supernatural and science fictional works from the 19th century existed in the same world?" So, in Volume II, you get the Martian invasion of Earth and Earth is defended by Jekyll and Hyde (from Stevenson), the Invisible Man (from Wells), and other famous characters of the day. What really puts this over the top (for us) is that the ending is the same as Wells' – it's infection that brings down the Martians – except in this version, Wells' Dr. Moreau plays a role.

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