10 Most Crucial British Science Fiction Novels 2

The War Of The Worlds

By HG Wells
1898

Here’s a lesson for those who assume that Herbert George Wells always got there first. In 1892, Australian writer Robert Potter’s The Germ Growers was published in Melbourne. The book that’s probably the first alien invasion narrative (we wouldn’t like to commit on this one…) told a slow-moving story of shape-shifting aliens unleashing biological warfare. It’s reputed that clergyman Potter struggled to shift copies and had to get rid of them by giving them away to his Sunday school pupils.

In contrast, Wells’ tale of Martian invasion is visceral and vivid. From the moment the aliens first unleash their deadly weapons, Wells never flinches in his descriptions of conflict. This is total war where everyone is a target, an eerie prelude to the horrors that lay ahead in the 20th century.

The War Of The Worlds may not have been the first alien invasion novel but here’s
the thing: more than a century later, it’s still the best. And thanks to Jeff Wayne, it’s also the most tuneful.

If you like this, why not try?
The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1912)
Because it’s easy to forget the ripping yarns adventure tradition is key in the development of early SF.

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