War of the Worlds actually happened

uk 75

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The events in HG Wells' "War of the World's" have inspired films, TV series, books and graphic novels/comics. Some have even described the invasion of Britain as if it had actually happened.
Supposing the invasion had happened at the beginning of the 20th Century and only destroyed South East England before the Martians succumbed to the virus.
The best brains in Britain and other countries would have been keen to get Martian technology to work. But given the limitations of a pre-electronic society the tripods and heat rays may have ended up in pieces from South Kensington to the Smithsonian.
 

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There are a number of novels and even an Anime that take this scenario.
 

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Supposing the invasion had happened at the beginning of the 20th Century and only destroyed South East England before the Martians succumbed to the virus.

As memory serves, the book suggests that all the Martian cylinders landed in England. If that's the case, Britain ends up with *all* the Martian tech. While the military forces in Britain were badly mauled by the Martians, potentially opening Britain to invasion by the French, Germans, Russians, even the dastardly Belgians, the *rest* of the British Empire was left intact and would, presumably, be busy steaming en masse towards Britain. So if Britain can hold off foreign invasion long enough for the Canadians and Indians and such to arrive... Britain will *own* the 20th century.

British science circa 1900 might or might not have been adequate to truly understand Martian weapons, metallurgy and power systems. But even if not - imagine trying to understand a modern microchip without an electron microscope - the simple effort to *try* to understand that tech will cause the scientists to learn at a vastly accelerated rate.
 

Dilandu

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While the military forces in Britain were badly mauled by the Martians, potentially opening Britain to invasion by the French, Germans, Russians, even the dastardly Belgians, the *rest* of the British Empire was left intact and would, presumably, be busy steaming en masse towards Britain. So if Britain can hold off foreign invasion long enough for the Canadians and Indians and such to arrive... Britain will *own* the 20th century.
Considering the damage Britain suffered, with the capitol deserted, multiple towns destroyed, and population massively fleeing into France, it would clearly suffer enormous economical losses. So most likely, Britain would pull out of "great game", allowing Russia to got Asia and Persia, and France and Germany to got most of Africa in exchange for firm rapprochement treaties. The remaining Royal Army forces would have too much problems just trying to hold India against almost-inevitable rebellion and giving French and Russia what they wanted would be the only way to make sure the rebellion would not find external support. The Royal Navy would most likely be severely reduced; Mediterranean fleet and China Station disestablished and remaining resources put on maintaining the Channel Fleet comparable in size with French or German (no two-power standard).

The main problem would most likely be America, who is most interested in taking British position in the world. There are a probability of British-American war over Canada.
 

Dilandu

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Talking Martians, there would most likely be a rush to develope fast-moving (motorized?) quick-firing artillery, with gunners in airtight suits, trained to hit fast-moving targets - like tripods - all across the world.

Significant efforts would be put in development of aviation - to counter the threat of Martian flying machines.

The most dangerous scenario basically would be of Martians landing somewhere in wilderness, and entrenching before they could be engaged.
 

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I agree that the attack by the Martians would have meant the end of the British Empire, but the nation would have managed to survive because they still retained most of their fleet, coal mines and a very intelligent political class. In my opinion they would have done the same thing as in 1939: to look for technological solutions to their problems. America would have tried to fill the vacuum of power created but numerous frictions would have arisen with the French and German colonial empires. America would have developed its immense industrial power before to succeed in displacing Europe. By losing its sources of raw materials the Europeans would also have had to resort to advanced technological solutions and perhaps would have made the mistake of attacking Russia.
 

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The novel ends with a suggestion that the Martians are expanding their empire throughout the solar system (corresponding markings are seen on Venus and Mars) and that a second wave may come.

The narrator observes that there are experiments in replicating Martian technology - attempts to reverse-engineer the heat ray have so far resulted in disastrous explosions.

Stephen Baxter's novel The Massacre of Mankind (written with the approval of the Wells estate) deals with a second wave on which the Martians are better prepared but humanity has been able to partially replicate or repurpose some Martian tech, such as an aluminium-manufacturing technique. Baxter assumes that both invasions are worldwide, allowing him to show multiple aspects.

There's this mockumentary, accompanying a game. It's presented from the perspective of decades afterwards when previously secret records are coming to light.



View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijPeKgL22n8


Both I think show some pretty good extrapolation.

There's also this curiosity:


Serialised almost immediately after the original, taking advantage of effectively nonexistent copyright protection in the US at the time.
 

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I must have read a different edition. While the Martians cut a bloody swathe across Woking, the capital and did some wading in the Thames Estuary, my impression was they didn't venture much into Hertfordshire, let alone the true North. Much of the industrial heartland of Britain was left quite intact. The one flying machine would have done well to obliterate Crewe, Doncaster, Manchester, Glasgow, the list goes on, before it's date with the inevitable. It may have looked like the world was ending from the PoV of one man down sarf but I don't think a knock-out blow was given, considering he was back in Woking after not too long. The trains were running again by the epilogue....

As for the RN being knocked out. Ha! One little torpedo-ram took out an actual percentage of the invasion force, singularly! How's "Then along came Bulwark and Venerable......" for an unseen extra chapter heading?

I know the UK looks small on a little globe but really.....read the book again.
 

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The remaining Royal Army forces would have too much problems just trying to hold India against almost-inevitable rebellion and giving French and Russia what they wanted would be the only way to make sure the rebellion would not find external support. The Royal Navy would most likely be severely reduced;

Disagree: with England trashed, I suspect the British Empire would care a lot less about that "empire" stuff and would be interested in bringing the troops home. I suspect the withdrawl could be as glitteringly well enacted as Biden flight from Afghanistan: boom, suddenly the Brits are gone. To hell with the locals, let 'em work it out for themselves.

As for the Royal navy: that's the one bit of the British military in close proximity to Britain that might still be in some sort of good shape. The RN would be *vital* to not only transport troops home, but also to guard the British Isles from invasion.

Britian would have a number of *bad* years. But if their surviving leadership is sufficiently wise, forward-thinking and bloodthirsty, they will withdraw as much as they need to from the rest of the world and focus their efforts on rapidly rebuilding English infrastructure *and* understanding Martian tech. Britain might become something of a hermit kingdom... but around 1915-1920, while France, Germany and Russia are slugging it out for control of Europe, suddenly atomic-steam-powered tripods flying the Union Jack stomp their way across the Channel to tell the Europeans what-for and to reclaim all the bits they "temporarily" lost using crude Maxim heat rays..
 

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Britian would have a number of *bad* years. But if their surviving leadership is sufficiently wise, forward-thinking and bloodthirsty, they will withdraw as much as they need to from the rest of the world and focus their efforts on rapidly rebuilding English infrastructure
On which money? If Britain retreated from colonies, it would basically have no sources of income left. Britain wealth was made on industry and trade; Martians knocked domestic industry down hard. Colonies - especially India - are basically the only source of income Britain have left post-invasion.


suddenly atomic-steam-powered tripods flying the Union Jack
Nah. Wells specifically stated, that Earth technology was incapable of repeating Martian technology, even having working samples. They have no clues how to produce any of materials Martians used, the tentacle-drives were enigma, and "secret researches" of heat ray emitters ended with major explosions in laboratories. Only flying machine gave some insights - seemingly mainly in aerodynamic.

So, the investigation of Martian tech would inevitably turns into area of fundamental, not applied science. And therefore it would be more or less known to every nation in the world. Britain would not have much advantage here.
 

Dilandu

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As for the RN being knocked out.
I never stated it was knocked out; just that post-invasion Britain would not be capable of maintainig the OTL scale of naval arm race due to serious economical consequences, and would be forced to limit its naval ambitions to parity with any single European navy.
 

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Erm... the LSWR was running trains between Waterloo and Byfleet less than four weeks after the "stormy night". Ealing and South Ken were intact enough for "laboratories" to be established. The Natural History Museum was sufficiently intact to host new Martian specimens. All but Byfleet are in "destroyed" London and Byfleet is essentially heat ray range away from Horsell Common! This fall of Empire stuff is .......wish fulfilment? You know Tom Cruise wasn't in this one right?
 

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The artilleryman that the narrator encounters offers a scenario of a human underground (literally) if the invasion should be successful. After the evacuation of London, a few days of rain would wash the sewers clean. A human resistance could base itself there, consolidating and then expanding a Morlock-like civilisation while above ground humans are domesticated and farmed by the Martians.

In any case, in the closing lines of the novel, the narrator makes it clear that the Martians are still active and may well try again - and be better prepared.

The original inspiration was a conversation between H G Wells and his older brother, Frank, who described the genocide of the native Tasmanians by English colonists. The narrator himself makes this analogy. Assuming that the scenario is 'real', then the Martians persist and probably succeed. Their temporary defeat is only Wells' literary device to allow the narrator to give his account. The Tuesday after he finishes, another cylinder falls and immediately starts venting black smoke...
 
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Dare I say, there might be an increase in the development and use of Bioweapons...
 

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On which money? If Britain retreated from colonies, it would basically have no sources of income left. Britain wealth was made on industry and trade; Martians knocked domestic industry down hard. Colonies - especially India - are basically the only source of income Britain have left post-invasion.
The Luftwaffe did a far better job of trashing British industry than the Martians did, and the British empire largely evaporated after WWII. And even though this was Bad News for Britain, and the British economy was in shambles, they survived and, eventually, did reasonably well.

So, the investigation of Martian tech would inevitably turns into area of fundamental, not applied science. And therefore it would be more or less known to every nation in the world. Britain would not have much advantage here.
Nope. Even if the Brits failed utterly to replicate Marstech, there's no reason whatsoever why they would necessarily share their results.... and they would have the only examples to work from. And having technology and materials to work from will spur science... if nothing else, you can test what *doesn't* work.
 

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The attempt to examine the heat-ray mechanism went south. And the authorities were left examining and coming to terms with an instrumentality that did not make use of the wheel or fixed pivot. Only actuators discussed as used by the Martians were analogs to muscle tissue in that linier motion was a result of electrical stimulation. Not much there to jump-start a steam-punk generation of Brit Engineers.

View: https://youtu.be/my5DVTz8a_A


David
 

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There is a short story by Wells, 'The Crystal Egg,' which is an apparent pendant to TWotW. The narrator describes finding the titular object in a junk shop, and holding it at just the right angle, finds an eye looking back at him. Eventually he observes what he surmises is the Martian civilisation. Apparently the 'egg' is a kind of 'optical wormhole' (Tolkein's inspiration for his Palantir?) and the Martians had sent many of these to Earth to gather intelligence before the invasion. No doubt many are still rolling around.

It also implies a technological and scientific capability far, far beyond human ability to replicate.
 
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There is a short story by Wells, 'The Crystal Egg,' which is an apparent pendant to TWotW. The narrator describes finding the titular object in a junk shop, and holding it at just the right angle, finds an eye looking back at him. Eventually he observes what he surmises is the Martian civilisation. Apparently the 'egg' is a kind of 'optical wormhole' (Tolkein's inspiration for his Palantir?) and the Martians had sent many of these to Earth to gather intelligence before the invasion. No doubt many are still rolling around.

It also implies a technological and scientific capability far, far beyond human ability to replicate.
Sounds a whole lot like a (two way) webcam setup.
 

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Erm... the LSWR was running trains between Waterloo and Byfleet less than four weeks after the "stormy night". Ealing and South Ken were intact enough for "laboratories" to be established. The Natural History Museum was sufficiently intact to host new Martian specimens. All but Byfleet are in "destroyed" London and Byfleet is essentially heat ray range away from Horsell Common! This fall of Empire stuff is .......wish fulfilment? You know Tom Cruise wasn't in this one right?
Bumped. Apparently, people don't need to read books to have an opinion about them.
 

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Erm... the LSWR was running trains between Waterloo and Byfleet less than four weeks after the "stormy night". Ealing and South Ken were intact enough for "laboratories" to be established. The Natural History Museum was sufficiently intact to host new Martian specimens. All but Byfleet are in "destroyed" London and Byfleet is essentially heat ray range away from Horsell Common! This fall of Empire stuff is .......wish fulfilment? You know Tom Cruise wasn't in this one right?
Bumped. Apparently, people don't need to read books to have an opinion about them.

Even the Crystal Palace survived.


Here's a map of all the locations mentioned in War of the Worlds. I used to live in Putney, the hardest hit areas are familiar to me and they're hardly the beating industrial heart of an empire.

My favorite depiction of the Martians is Henrique Correa's from 1906. There's just something about the the absurd googly-eyed fighting-machines are juxtaposed with horror.


The sequels with reverse-engineering always seem a little off to me. Wells took care to describe the Martian technology as not only more advanced, but completely alien. His Martians closely resemble the far-future posthumans in his earlier "Man of the Year Million," it's likely that's about how far ahead he envisioned them.
 
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My favorite depiction of the Martians is Henrique Correa's from 1906. There's just something about the the absurd googly-eyed fighting-machines are juxtaposed with horror.


Thanks for that link. That is not how I would have envisioned the tripods, what with the google eyes and all... and yet, they're still damned creepifyin'.
 

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Here's a map of all the locations mentioned in War of the Worlds. I used to live in Putney, the hardest hit areas are familiar to me and they're hardly the beating industrial heart of an empire.
Interesting link, thanks! I'd managed to miss that a fighting machine had gotten as far up as Waltham Abbey. I grew up not a world away from Waltham Cross! So much for shelter in place, exodus it is! ;)

Apologies for making it all about railways but with them still (apparently) largely intact post-invasion, I have no doubt that London could be fed and fuelled from without, as it was before but what about the waterways? If the water supplies for London, Surrey et al are contaminated by atrophied red weed then the added strain on logistics of bringing in water from elsewhere would be my chief concern in the immediate aftermath. That and law enforcement.....

The epilogue implies that reverse-engineering the heat ray is a dead end (for the immediate future, who knows later) so my recommendation for a "quick-draw" Martian retaliation would be weaponized malaria or somesuch (weird thing to say).
 

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My favorite depiction of the Martians is Henrique Correa's from 1906. There's just something about the the absurd googly-eyed fighting-machines are juxtaposed with horror.


Thanks for that link. That is not how I would have envisioned the tripods, what with the google eyes and all... and yet, they're still damned creepifyin'.
In my opinion the design of the tripods of the first illustrations is quite unstable, especially if they were built to operate on a high-gravity planet (from the Martian point of view). The most recent illustrations present more believable structures.
 

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My favorite depiction of the Martians is Henrique Correa's from 1906. There's just something about the the absurd googly-eyed fighting-machines are juxtaposed with horror.


Thanks for that link. That is not how I would have envisioned the tripods, what with the google eyes and all... and yet, they're still damned creepifyin'.
There's something vaguely Bart Simpsonish about that thing...
 

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In my opinion the design of the tripods of the first illustrations is quite unstable, especially if they were built to operate on a high-gravity planet (from the Martian point of view). The most recent illustrations present more believable structures.
One thing I did like about the recent BBC adaptation was the design of the tripods. While the wide, crooked-legged stance was inefficient, they had a crystalline appearance as if they were grown in the ground, which makes a lot of sense considering the small size of the spheres (not cylinders) the Martians arrived in. If you look carefully, you can see fragments flaking off them.

I wonder what an efficient walking gait would be for a tripod? For a biped, it's a forwards-backwards swing, with a slight side-to-side sway to ensure that the centre of gravity stays nearer one foot or the other while inertia keeps the whole mass moving forward and the advancing foot preventing toppling. One tripedal solution would be like a man on crutches, with the middle-hind leg necessarily being stronger and the flanking pair more for steering.

Wells was very accident and illness-prone for much of his early life and a broken leg had him bedridden for weeks. He said though that it changed his life immeasurably because he discovered the pleasure of reading. I wonder if he thought about how great it would be to have crutches to get around on? Biographers often like to highlight the fact that when he was a little older, he was able to stay at the stately home of Uppark, where his mother became housekeeper. He found a telescope packed away in the attic, and assembling that on its tripod and access to the house's library are thought to be an inspiration. Later he was a keen cyclist, so they all probably added up.

The reference to 'The Man of the Year Million' is certainly correct. A sketch (a 'picshua') by Wells of this being looks exactly like his description of the Martians.
 

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Illustration by Warwick Goble for the original serialisation in Pearson's Magazine, 1897. Wells ridiculed these in the published novel with his narrator commenting that some illustrator had clearly never seen the real fighting machines and drew them as stiff objects.
WOTWTripodsThames.jpg
 

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Henrique Alvim Corrêa's illustrations did receive Wells' approval however. There's a supremely chilling incident related second-hand in the novel of revellers drinking their terror away and the spilling out into the street... to see a fighting machine standing over the street, watching.

19113779_1989195164644171_9180396226923919574_n.jpg
 

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Illustration by Warwick Goble for the original serialisation in Pearson's Magazine, 1897. Wells ridiculed these in the published novel with his narrator commenting that some illustrator had clearly never seen the real fighting machines and drew them as stiff objects.

I *vaguely* recall that somewhere the tripods were described as wobbling about like a three legged stool. That gave me the impression, clearly shared by that illustrator, that the tripod *was* a stiff object. It doesn't make sense, of course. Just an unfortunate turn of phrase.

EDIT: Huzzah! The actual quote:

And this Thing I saw! How can I describe it? A monstrous tripod, higher than many houses, striding over the young pine trees, and smashing them aside in its career; a walking engine of glittering metal, striding now across the heather; articulate ropes of steel dangling from it, and the clattering tumult of its passage mingling with the riot of the thunder. A flash, and it came out vividly, heeling over one way with two feet in the air, to vanish and reappear almost instantly as it seemed, with the next flash, a hundred yards nearer. Can you imagine a milking stool tilted and bowled violently along the ground? That was the impression those instant flashes gave. But instead of a milking stool imagine it a great body of machinery on a tripod stand.

That's not e great description of a machine with jointed and supple limbs.
 
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One of the most famous incidents of the novel is the confrontation of HMS Thunder Child with the fighting machines in the Thames estuary. Wells described her as a 'Torpedo Ram', an obscure and unsuccessful class of ship.

Here's a video looking at what she may have been by Baron Engel.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQBund8uLmo

hms_thunderchild_by_baron_engel_ddtqykg-fullview.jpg
 

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Larger 'Heron' fighting machine and smaller 'Spider' etcetera from The Great Martian War publicity material. Credited to Christian Johnson.
 

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More organic interpretation by Jim Burns last year. Private commission. The Lair, Elysium Planitia. He made this image freely available on his Facebook page.

IMG_2706.JPG
 
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