The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells


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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

Title: The War of the Worlds

Author: H. G. Wells

Release Date: July, 1992 [EBook #36]
[Most recently updated October 1, 2004]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


The War of the Worlds

by H. G. Wells [1898]

But who shall dwell in these worlds if they be
inhabited? . . . Are we or they Lords of the
World? . . . And how are all things made for man?--
KEPLER (quoted in The Anatomy of Melancholy)





No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth
century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by
intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as
men busied themselves about their various concerns they were
scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a
microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and
multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to
and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their
assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the
infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to
the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of
them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or
improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of
those departed days. At most terrestrial men fancied there might be
other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to
welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds
that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish,
intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with
envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And
early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.

The planet Mars, I scarcely need remind the reader, revolves about the
sun at a mean distance of 140,000,000 miles, and the light and heat it
receives from the sun is barely half of that received by this world.
It must be, if the nebular hypothesis has any truth, older than our
world; and long before this earth ceased to be molten, life upon its
surface must have begun its course. The fact that it is scarcely one
seventh of the volume of the earth must have accelerated its cooling
to the temperature at which life could begin. It has air and water
and all that is necessary for the support of animated existence.

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