Embankment machine (The War of the Worlds)

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The Embankment machine (also known as the Digging machine) is one of the fictional machines used by the Martians in the H. G. Wells' classic science fiction novel The War of the Worlds. It is an excavator, and is one of the many types of machine the Martians bring with them when they invade Earth, along with the fighting machine, the flying machine, and the handling machine.


The embankment machine is featured only once in the novel in very little detail. Rather than describe its appearance, Wells describes it as an excavator used to widen the pits where the Cylinders landed. Wells explains that the machine itself has no pilot or a form of cockpit, and that it appears to be a form of automaton.

When the Martians are on the move, either the embankment machine is abandoned or taken with them to work elsewhere.

In other adaptations[edit]

The embankment machine has been featured in the graphic novel by Dark Horse Comics. The machine here is portrayed as a mechanical earthworm that feeds the soil into a mouth-like intake rather than actually digging, and moves about on several mechanical feet like a centipede. Several of these are seen at the main Martian camp in London, left abandoned as the Martians succumb to the Earth's bacteria.

Another version appears in the 1998 PC Game based on Jeff Wayne's adaption. This digging mechanism was a bulky, four-legged machine whose purpose was to build defensive fortifications and related structures. Unlike the novel's version though, this machine does not seem to be automated.

No form of this autonomous alien machine has appeared in any film adaptations, but in War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave, a sequel to The Asylum's 2005 low-budget film H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds, the Tripods, known as squid-walkers, are not controlled from the inside, but move at their own will. However, these machines are described as cybernetic life forms, not autonomous machines.

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