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 four types of machine the Martians bring with them when they invade Earth, the three others being 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, Well's mentions it in passing as an excavator used to widen the Cylinders landing pits. The novel's Narrator character further 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, the embankment machine is taken with them. When the novel's Narrator can safely emerge from the rubble of a ruined house he was trapped under for weeks after a Cylinder fell, the landing pit contains nothing but human remains from past Martian feedings.

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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