List of works based on The War of the Worlds
The War of the Worlds (1898) is a science fiction novel by H. G. Wells. It describes the memoirs of an unnamed narrator in the suburbs of Woking, Surrey, England who recounts an invasion of Earth by an army of Martians with military technology far in advance to human science. It is said to be the first story that details a human conflict with, and overall defeat by, an extraterrestrial race.
Following its publication, The War of the Worlds rapidly entered popular culture. Through the 20th and 21st centuries, the novel has been adapted into a number of different mediums, including radio, television and film. These have been produced with varying degrees of faithfulness towards the original text, with many of the more famous adaptations, such as Orson Welles' 1938 radio adaptation and the 2005 film directed by Steven Spielberg, choosing to set the events in a contemporary setting. In addition, many adaptations, including both of the above, have relocated the plot from its original setting of England in favour of the United States. The most recent adaptation of this type was produced in Canada and broadcast on Britain's BBC (fall, 2013) and BBC America (summer 2014) for the centenary of World War I. It posits the Martian invasion as "The Great Martian War 1913–1917", with the Martians invading Earth, first falling on Germany, and then expanding their war on mankind throughout Western Europe.
- 1953: The War of the Worlds (1953 film), produced by George Pal and directed by Byron Haskin, for Paramount Pictures
- 1981: The War of the Worlds: Next Century, a Polish film by Piotr Szulkin
- 2005: War of the Worlds (2005 film), directed by Steven Spielberg, for Paramount Pictures.
- 2005: H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds (2005 film), directed by Timothy Hines, for Pendragon Pictures
- 2005: H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds (2005 film), directed by David Michael Latt (titled Invasion or The Worlds in War internationally), for The Asylum.
- 2012 Alien Dawn: based very loosely on H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds set in Los Angeles, Directed by Neil Johnson
- 2012: War of the Worlds - The True Story a sci-fi/horror mockumentary, by Pendragon Pictures
- 2012: War of the Worlds: Goliath: Animated sequel set 15 years after the Wells novel
- 2013: The Great Martian War 1913–1917, a science fiction docudrama told in the format of an episode on the History Channel on the centennial of the first year of the War To End All Wars.
- 1975: The Night That Panicked America, a film that follows Orson Welles' radio broadcast based on Wells' novel.
- 1990: Spaced Invaders, a comic film directed by Patrick Read Johnson in which Martians land in a small Illinois town at the same time as the local radio station is rebroadcasting Orson Welles' radio drama.
- 1996: Mars Attacks!, a science fiction comedy by Tim Burton, which spoofs many alien invasion films of the 1950s, including 1953's War of the Worlds.
- 1996: Independence Day is a sci-fi action film that, in addition to dealing with a similar large scale invasion of earth by extraterrestrials, pays homage by having a computer virus be that which disrupts the aliens, an update to the pathogens that caused the downfall of the aliens in the original Wells' work.
- 2006: Scary Movie 4, a spoof comedy that uses Steven Spielberg's film version as its plot.
- 2007: War of the Servers, A spoof parody filmed entirely in Garry's Mod using references to the multiplayer aspects as plot devices.
- 1988: War of the Worlds (TV series) Loosely based on Wells' novel, but is mainly a sequel to the 1953 film.
- 2001: Justice League animated TV series adapts the main events and visuals of the novel for the three part story Secret Origins. Aliens, after destroying Mars, attack Earth via tripods and a team of superheroes, including Superman, attempt to stop them.
- 1938: The War of the Worlds (radio), the Orson Welles' 1938 radio adaptation
- 1944: War Of The Worlds radio broadcast, Santiago
- 1949: War Of The Worlds radio broadcast, Radio Quito, Quito, Ecuador
- 1950: The War of the Worlds, BBC radio dramatisation
- 1955: The Lux Radio Theater: War of the Worlds, adaptation of the 1953 Film.
- 1967: The War of the Worlds, BBC radio dramatisation
- 1968: The War of the Worlds (radio 1968), WKBW radio adaptation
- 1988: The War of the Worlds (radio 1988), an NPR 50th Anniversary radio adaptation with Jason Robards
- 2002: The War of the Worlds (radio 2002), Glenn Beck's Mercury Radio Arts recreates the 1938 program live on Halloween 2002, using exactly the same script as Orson Wells. The program was sponsored by Bill's Khakis.
- 1978: Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds, by Jeff Wayne
- 2009: War Of The Worlds, by Marc Broude
- 2012: Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds - The New Generation, by Jeff Wayne
- 1979; 1982: The War of the Worlds (arcade game), an arcade game published by Cinematronics, and its re-released color version.
- 1980: The War Of The Worlds, a war board game designed by Allen D. Eldridge and published by Task Force Games.
- 1984: The War of the Worlds (1984 computer game), a home computer game based on Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds.
- 1998: Jeff Wayne's The War of the Worlds, real-time strategy computer game.
- 1998: Jeff Wayne's The War of the Worlds, vehicular combat PlayStation game.
- 1955: Classics Illustrated #124, a comic book adaptation of the book
- 1973–1976: Amazing Adventures #18–39 featured Killraven, a 21st-century freedom fighter against a second Martian invasion.
- 1977: Marvel Classics Comics #14, a comic book adaptation of the book.
- 1999: Superman: War of the Worlds: events of the Wells book transferred to Superman's Metropolis and also involve Lois Lane and Lex Luthor.
- 2002–2003: Volume II of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a limited series comic book written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Kevin O'Neill
- 2006: H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds (comic), graphic novel
- 1994: War of the Worlds: Invasion from Mars, an Audio Theatre adaption by L.A. Theatre Works, casting Star Trek cast members like Leonard Nimoy, Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner and directed by John de Lancie.
- 2004–2005: H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, a site specific theatre adaptation by Canadian playwright Ian Case staged in and around Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria, British Columbia.
- 2005: The Art of H. G. Wells by Ricardo Garijo, the third in the series of trading cards, released
- 2008: Solar Pons's War of the Worlds, an online web serial set in the world of Solar Pons, combining elements of the original novel, the 1938 radio adaptation, and the Wells short-story The Crystal Egg.
1938 radio adaption by Orson Welles
The radio drama itself has spun off a number of productions based upon the events surrounding the broadcast, including Doctor Who: Invaders from Mars, an audio drama released in 2002 based upon the Doctor Who television series that depicts Welles's broadcast as taking place during an actual attempted alien invasion.
1953 first film adaptation by George Pal
George Pal's film adaptation has many notable differences from H. G. Wells' novel. The closest resemblance is probably that of the antagonists. The film's aliens are indeed Martians, and invade Earth for the same reasons as those from the novel (the state of Mars suggests that it is in the final stages of being able to support life, leading to the Martians decision to make Earth their new home). They land on Earth in the same way, by crashing to the Earth. However, the book's spacecraft are large cylinder-shaped projectiles fired from the Martian surface from some kind of cannon, instead of the film's meteor-like spaceships; but the Martians emerge from their craft in the same way, by unscrewing a large, round hatch. They appear to have no use for humans in the film. In the novel they are observed directly feeding on humans by draining their victims' blood using pipettes; there is also a speculation about them eventually using human slaves to hunt down all remaining human survivors after the Martians conquer Earth. In the film the Martians do not bring the novel's fast-growing red weed with them, but they are defeated by Earth microorganisms, as observed in the novel. However, they die from the effects of the microorganisms within three days of the landing of the first meteor-ship; in the novel the Martians die within about three weeks of their invasion of England.
The Martians themselves bear no physical resemblance to the novel's Martians. The novel's aliens are bear-sized, bulkish creatures whose bodies are described as "merely heads", with a beak-like mouth, sixteen tentacles and two "luminous, disk-like eyes". Their film counterparts are short, reddish-brown creatures with two long, thin arms with three long suction cup-like fingers. The Martian's "head," if it can be called that, is a broad "face" at the top-front of its broad shouldered upper torso, the only apparent feature of which is a single large eye with three distinctly colored lenses. The Martians' lower extremities, whatever they may be, are never shown. (Some speculative designs for the creature suggest the idea of three thin legs resembling their fingers, while others show them as a biped with short, stubby legs with three-toed feet.)
The film's Martian war machines do actually have more of a resemblance than they may seem at first glance. The book's machines are Tripods and carry the heat-ray projector on an articulated arm connected to the front of the war machine's main body. The film's machines are deliberately shaped like manta rays, with a bulbous, elongated green window at the front, through which the aliens observe their surroundings. On top of the machine is the cobra-like heat-ray attached to a long, narrow, neck-like extension. They can be mistaken for flying-machines, but Dr. Forrester states that they are lifted by "invisible legs"; in one scene, when the first machine emerges, you can see faint traces of three energy legs beneath and three sparking traces where the three energy shafts touch the burning ground. Therefore, technically speaking, the film's war machines are indeed tripods, though they are never given that designation. Whereas the novel's war machines had no protection against British army and navy cannon fire, the film's war machines have a force field surrounding them; this invisible shield is described by Dr. Forrester as a "protective blister".
The Martian weaponry is also partially unchanged. The heat-ray has the very same effect as that of the novel. However, the novel's heat-ray is briefly described as having a spinning disk held up by a mechanical arm when first seen; it fires in a wide arc while still in the pit where the Martians first land. The film's heat-ray is shaped like a cobra's hood with a single, red pulsing eye, which possibly acts like a targeting telescope for the Martians. The book describes another weapon, the black smoke used to kill all life; the war machines fire projectiles containing a black powder through a bazooka-like tube accessory. The black powder when dispersed seems to have the same effect on life as the mustard gas of the First World War. This weapon is replaced in the film by the "skeleton beam", which fires green pulsing bursts of energy from the tips of the Manta-Ray body. The skeleton beams cause objects and people to disintegrate.
The plot of the film is very different from the novel. The novel tells the story of a late 19th-century journalist who journeys through Victorian London and environs while the Martians attack, eventually being reunited with his wife; the film's protagonist is a California scientist who falls in love with a college instructor after the Martian attack begins. However, certain points of the plot are similar to the novel, from the crash-landing of the Martian meteor-ships to their eventual defeat by Earth's microorganisms. Doctor Forrester also goes through some of which befalls the book's narrator: like his ordeal in a destroyed house and seeing an actual Martian up close. The film is given more of a Cold War theme, with its use of the Atomic Bomb against the enemy and the mass-destruction that such a global war would inflict on mankind.
After World War II, Ray Harryhausen shot a scene of a dying alien falling out of a Martian war machine, test footage for an abandoned project to adapt the story using Wells' original "octopus" concept for the Martians. A video of the footage can be found here.
Here Harryhausen talks about his proposed adaptation:
- "Yes, originally, after Mighty Joe [Young] I made a lot of sketches for War of the Worlds. I wanted to keep it in the period that H.G. Wells wrote it, of the Victorian period, and I made eight big drawings, some of which are published – in the book and it would have been an interesting picture, if it was made years ago. But since then so many pictures of that nature have been made that it wouldn't be quite unique as it would have been."
- Within six weeks of the novel's original 1897 magazine serialisation, The Boston Post began running a sequel, Edison's Conquest of Mars by Garrett P. Serviss, about an Earth counter-attack against the Martians, led by Thomas Edison. Though this is actually a sequel to 'Fighters from Mars', a revised and un-authorised re-print, they both were first printed in the Boston Post in 1898.
- In 1962, Soviet author Lazar Lagin published a political pamphlet named "Major Well Andyou" ("Майор Велл Эндъю"), a pun on "Well, and you?", which relates the story of a major in the British Army who collaborates with the Martian invaders. A condemnation of imperialism and capitalism, the story was dominated by Soviet analysis of political issues contemporary to the 1950s and 1960s.
- The Second War of the Worlds, by George H. Smith concerned the Martians trying to invade an alternate, less-technologically advanced Earth. Helping these people are an unnamed English detective, and his companion, a doctor, from 'our' world. (It is quite obvious from clues in the story that these are actually Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson.)
- In the 1970s, Marvel Comics had a character named Killraven Warrior of the Worlds who (in an alternative timeline) fought H. G. Wells' Martians after their second invasion of Earth in 2001. He first appeared in Amazing Adventures volume 2 #18.
- Manly Wade Wellman and his son Wade Wellman wrote Sherlock Holmes' War of the Worlds (1975) which describes Sherlock Holmes's adventures during the Martian occupation of London. This version uses Wells' short story "The Crystal Egg" as a prequel (with Holmes being the man who bought the egg at the end) and includes a crossover with Arthur Conan Doyle's Professor Challenger stories. Among many changes the Martians are changed into simple vampires, who suck and ingest human blood.
- In The Space Machine Christopher Priest presents both a sequel and prequel to The War of the Worlds (due to time travel elements), which also integrates the events of The Time Machine.
- In the novel W. G. Grace's Last Case (1984) by Willie Rushton, W. G. Grace and Doctor Watson avert a second Martian invasion by attacking the Martian fleet on the far side of the moon with "bombs" containing influenza germs.
- The comic book Scarlet Traces (2002) begins a decade later with Great Britain utilising the Martians' technology, and ironic to the allegory of Wells' novel, have become more powerful because of it. Eventually, this leads up to a counter-invasion aimed for Mars in its own sequel, Scarlet Traces: The Great Game (2006).
- Science fiction author Eric Brown wrote a short story, "Ulla, Ulla" (2002) about an expedition to Mars, finding the truth behind H.G. Wells' novel.
- A number of people have written contemporaneously set stories that describe the same invasion from the perspectives of locations other than Britain. Notable stories of this type are:
- "Night of the Cooters" by Howard Waldrop, in which a Martian war machine lands in Texas.
- "Foreign Devils" by Walter Jon Williams, set in China.
- War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches, edited by Kevin J. Anderson, an anthology of such stories (ISBN 0-553-10353-9).
- "War of the Worlds : New Millennium" (2005) by Douglas Niles in which the invasion is set in 2005 and focuses mainly on the American fightback. (ISBN 0-765-35000-9) Tor Books
- In the short story Mastery of Vesania, Hayden Lee uses his appropriation to present the invasion from the perspective of the Martian invaders, also providing the link between the different nature of the two invasions presented in the book and the 2005 film (arriving from space and rising from the ground).
- The War Of The Worlds, The Art of H.G.Wells trading card series
- Big Finish Productions: Invaders from Mars
- 'War of the Worlds' – Ray Harryhausen Martian test footage
- Ray Harryhausen and Nick Park
- Edison’s Conquest of Mars, "Forward" by Robert Godwin, Apogee Books 2005