The War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds

The war of the worlds is a famous book by Herbert George Wells, (born September 21, 1866, Bromley, Kent, England—died August 13, 1946, London), English novelist, journalist, sociologist, and historian best known for such science fiction novels as The Time Machine and such comic novels as Tono-Bungay and The History of Mr. Polly.

Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds is the debut album by Jeff Wayne, retelling the story of The War of the Worlds. It was released in the UK on 9 June 1978. A concept album and a rock opera, its main format is progressive rock and string orchestra, using narration and leitmotifs to carry the story and rhyming melodic lyrics that express the feelings of the various characters.

On YouTube you can watch this musical for free and also you can donate to the WWF from the page.


In The War of the Worlds, the Martians invade England, landing in ten cylinders at twenty-four-hour intervals, terrorizing the countryside and devastating the heart of London. It is perhaps the most plausible of Wells’s romances, for at the time it was thought that Mars might be inhabitable and that it was far older than the earth. It could well serve, then, as the site of beings who antedate humanity.

The Martians are much more highly developed than humans, but as the narrator discovers, they have landed on Earth to use it as a feeding ground. The Martians are wormlike creatures with bulging eyes and sixteen long, sensitive tentacles projecting from their mouths. They suck living blood. They arrive in huge, spiderlike engines, smothering cities with black smoke and defeating the opposition with heat rays not unlike lasers that can disintegrate artillery.

The Martians succeed where the invisible man failed in establishing a reign of terror, and much of the novel concerns their relentless, apparently invincible progress across the country. There is much less characterization in The War of the Worlds than in Wells’s other science fiction. Rather, the novel is intent on describing the mass hysteria such an invasion would stimulate and on showing how unprepared civilization is for the onslaught of forces from another world.

Wells is particularly hard on a vicar who takes refuge with the unnamed narrator, as if to suggest the usual comforts of religion, especially organized religion, are to little avail in a truly otherworldly event. The vicar is reduced to a state of abject terror, mouthing Christian pieties and proclaiming the day of judgment. In a half-starved, delirious state, he ventures toward the Martians before the narrator can stop him and is killed.

The concrete descriptions of London and of the damage wreaked upon it by the Martians enhance the verisimilitude of the narrative as the narrator struggles to survive and retain his presence of mind. Although he comes across another character who vows to carry on the fight, human expressions of defiance seem more pathetic than encouraging. It is astonishing how quickly civilization seems morally and physically bankrupted by the invasion.

There is little comfort in the denouement of the novel. The Martians succumb to the environment, having no antibodies to cope with bacteria that attack and destroy their nervous systems. Otherwise, they might very well have succeeded in destroying civilization. The narrator gradually comes to realize that the Martians are dying when he hears their awful, moaning shrieks.

Reviews of The War of the Worlds noted that the novel had the gripping quality of a firsthand newspaper dispatch, a dramatic presentation of bulletins as the Martians conduct their relentless advance, instilling terror, physically and mentally immobilizing the population. Part of the excitement stems from closely following the narrator’s narrow escapes and his piecing together of what has happened in the city.

The Martian invasion provides Wells with a scenario for commenting on the organization of modern life. The mass of humanity is treated as just that: a mass, a mob of largely undifferentiated human beings who trample upon each other and cannot organize a common defense. They are as weak as the Elois who are dominated by the Morlocks, as unconscious of worlds larger than themselves as are the Sussex inhabitants who peer curiously at the invisible man.

The Martians, the time traveller, the invisible man—for all their differences—function as devices for upsetting human complacency. Wells deeply distrusted human self-satisfaction and what he regarded as a typically English contentment with life as it is—as though life had always been that way and would continue to be so. Wells believed the contrary, that modern life would be a series of disruptions and that the twentieth century would see apocalyptic changes, perhaps initiated by science, but probably exacerbated by human ignorance, greed, and smugness. Humanity might, as in The War of the Worlds, be able to escape the worst fate Wells could imagine for it, but it could not count on such a conclusion.

Book 1

Chapter 1: The Eve of the War
The narrator of The War of the Worlds is never identified by name. He refers to a “great light” seen on the planet Mars in 1894, explaining that this was six years before the time when he is writing. Earth’s astronomers were perplexed about what to make of it, he says, but later realized that it was the invading forces, being shot toward Earth as if out of a gun.

Chapter 2: The Falling Star
People think that the first Martian ship is a falling star, then a meteor. An astronomer hears something within the metal tube that landed.

Chapter 3: On Horsell Common
The narrator goes to investigate the crash site, where a crowd of spectators has gathered. Also there are several astronomers gathered.

Chapter 4: The Cylinder Opens
The top of the cylinder opens, and the crowd scatters. A Martian, with huge eyes and flailing antennae, jumps out, and another looks out the top. One man who slipped into the crater that the cylinder made tries to crawl out of the hole, but the Martian grabs him and pulls him back.

Chapter 5: The Heat-Ray
Because the Martians do not seem able to climb out of the pit their ship is in, people crowd around again. A group of men approach the Martians with a white flag, signaling that they come in peace, but they are incinerated by a Heat-Ray that is fired at them.

Chapter 6: The Heat-Ray in the Chobham Road
Word of the Heat-Ray spreads to the nearby towns of Cobham, Woking, and Ottershaw. Hundreds of people come to observe what is coming on. When the ray is turned on the crowd, it is unable to kill everyone because it is being fired from down in the pit, but two women and a little boy are trampled in the rush to get away from the Martians.

Chapter 7: How I Reached Home
The narrator returns to his home, on the way hearing people talk about the Martian ship. His wife has dinner on the table. She has not heard anything about all of this until he tells her what he saw. The morning newspapers report on the Martians, but they say that they would never be able to threaten the planet because the Earth’s gravity, much stronger than the gravity of Mars, would weigh them down.

Chapter 8: Friday Night
While they can hear hammering sounds from within the pit where the Martians have landed, the army sends soldiers to surround the cylinder. A second cylinder from Mars arrives on Earth, landing not too far from the first.

Chapter 9: The Fighting Begins
The day is like an ordinary Saturday, except that everyone is talking about the Martians. The Martians release the Heat-Ray across the countryside, and it reaches for miles around. The narrator rents a dog cart from his landlord to take his wife away from their home, which is too close to the invaders, to live with his cousin in Leatherhead, twelve miles away.

Chapter 10: In the Storm
There is a thunderstorm when he tries to return. On the road, he encounters the Martians, mobilized in a pod that walks on three hundred-foot-tall legs. As he goes toward his house, he encounters the charred remains of people.

Chapter 11: At the Window
From the upstairs window of his house, the narrator sees fires across the whole countryside, and several Martian tripods lumbering across the valley. He sees an artilleryman outside of his house and has him come inside; the man tells of how the Martians’ Heat-Ray wiped out his army division.

Chapter 12: What I Saw of the Destruction of Weybridge and Shepperton
The narrator and the artilleryman leave for London. They come across another army division and tell them of the destruction they have seen. They also come across refugees fleeing their homes. When the Martians arrive, the narrator is able to survive their Heat-Rays by diving under water. One Martian pod is destroyed by artillery fire before the people are wiped out by the Heat-Ray.

Chapter 13: How I Fell in with the Curate
The narrator floats downstream in a boat, scorched from the heating of the river water. He meets a curate who is turning crazy with panic and takes him with him toward London.

Chapter 14: In London
Chapter 14 is about how the narrator’s brother, a medical student in London, learned of the Martians. While battles are being waged against the Martians to the south, little news had reached the city: telegraph lines are down and observers are dead. There are rumors about the one Martian cylinder that has been destroyed, and refugees from the countryside tell stories about what they have seen. Finally, reports reach the city of the Black Smoke, which hovers near the ground and waterways and suffocates anyone whose lungs it seeps into.

Chapter 15: What Happened in Surrey
The narrator and the curate watch the human military forces smashed by three Martian tripods using the Heat-Ray and the Black Smoke.

Chapter 16: The Exodus from London
This chapter chronicles the attempts of the narrator’s brother to escape from London. All trains are overcrowded, and the tracks are crammed with people trying to escape. The Black Smoke is traveling up the river from the south. The narrator’s brother helps two women as some men are trying to steal their horse carriage from them, and they invite him to travel with them.

Chapter 17: The Thunder Child
The narrator’s brother and his companions have their horse taken away from them. They make it to the sea just as the Martians are approaching, but they manage to escape on a boat. A naval ship manages to destroy a Martian tripod before a flying ship that the Martians have made on Earth flies overhead, spreading the Black Smoke.

Book 2

Chapter 1: Under Foot
Book 2 chronicles “The Earth under the Martians.” The narrator decides that the curate is too much trouble to stay with him, and decides to part ways. They arrive at London and find it deserted, but a strange red plant is growing everywhere: it is something that came with the Martians from their planet. The house where the curate and the narrator have stopped to look for food is nearly hit by a new cylinder arriving from Mars, and they are then stuck there because the Martians will see them if they leave.

Chapter 2: What We Saw from the Ruined House
In the ruined house on the edge of the crater, the men watch the Martians build new machines, which look like themselves but have the mobility to attack the human race.

Chapter 3: The Days of Imprisonment
Trapped in the ruined house with food supplies dwindling, the narrator comes to hate the curate, who complains constantly and eats and drinks, which makes him loud, threatening their hiding place. They watch the Martians take human prisoners and suck the blood out of them.

Chapter 4: The Death of the Curate
When the curate panics and makes too much noise, the narrator hits him with a cleaver. A Martian reaches into the house with its tentacle: it comes close to the narrator but does not find him, and instead drags the curate’s body away.

Chapter 5: The Stillness
After fifteen days in the house, the narrator steps outside to find that the pit where the Martians were working is abandoned. Birds and dogs scrounge among the discarded skeletons of humans.

Chapter 6: The Work of Fifteen Days
The narrator wanders through London and finds it deserted.

Chapter 7: The Man on Putney Hill
The narrator meets the artilleryman from Chapter 12 who has a pragmatic idea for the regeneration of humanity. He plans to start a new society in the sewers, and they will adapt to the new reality of Martian dominance and focus on the disciplined struggle for life. Despite what he says, the man works little and wants to spend his time playing cards, drinking, and smoking.

Chapter 8: Dead London
Wandering through the desolate streets of London, the narrator comes to realize that the Martian tripods are not moving. The Martians are dead. He explains that scientists later determined that they had no natural defenses for Earth’s bacteria.

Chapter 9: Wreckage
The narrator is driven nearly mad with the idea that he is the last man alive. A family looks after him until his delirium breaks. Then he goes home, sorrowful that he will not see his wife ever again, but she shows up there, thinking he is dead, and they are reunited.

Chapter 10: The Epilogue
Once news of the Martians’ demise spread, countries from all over the world send food and aid, and those who had survived by leaving return. The government believes that the Martians may have colonized Venus and that might satisfy their needs, but the narrator still is uneasy about whether they might try another attack against Earth some time in the future.


In conclusion, you have the opportunity to read The War of the Worlds as a book and support local bookshop using our site or watch the musical for free on YouTube.

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