A meteor that crashes to earth in the English countryside turns out to be an alien spacecraft and the vanguard of invasion from Mars. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells is a brilliantly imaginative tale of humanity facing a merciless war of extermination and one of the most influential stories in science fiction.
First published in 1897 and never out of print since, The War of the Worlds is told in a lucid, almost documentary, style. The realistically depicted setting, with cities and streets accurately described, gives the Martian attack, and the subsequent collapse of order in Victorian England, unforgettable impact. The British Empire brings its mightiest war machines to bear to no avail as the fleeing narrator is reduced to hiding in the ruins of civilization while being stalked by an inhuman enemy. Adapted repeatedly to film and television, the novel’s central concept of humanity under attack by extraterrestrials has never ceased resonating in pop culture and may have inspired more imitations than any other trope in the science fiction genre. It is a tribute to the capacious imagination of H.G. Wells that this novel retains both a sense of otherworldly wonder and a harrowing intensity to this day.