Handling machine (The War of the Worlds)

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The Handling machine is one of the fictional machines used by the Martians in H. G. Wells' classic science fiction novel The War of the Worlds. It is a crawling device used by the Martians to pick up, manipulate, and handle other objects. It 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 embankment machine.


The handling machine is used in Wells' book as a construction machine, making, moving, and assembling machinery. Like the fighting machines, the handling machine functions under control of a Martian. (The only machine that was described as functioning autonomously was the embankment machine, which was used to stabilize the loose earth around the crater created by the impact of the Martian projectiles.) Unlike the fighting machines, the handling machines are not tripods; instead they are described as having five jointed legs with numerous jointed levers and tentacles. They are described as "spider-like" and "crab-like". The Narrator claims it is disturbing how much they act like a living thing.

In Jeff Wayne's musical adaptation of The War of the Worlds, the handling machine was the primary vehicle for capturing humans (a cage being placed on the 'back' of the machine). This is one of the few obvious inconsistencies with the original text, as Wells had written that the fighting machines had the cages and did the capturing. However, in the 1998 PC game which was largely based on Jeff Wayne's album, the handling machine's purpose is more accurate. It is used by the player to construct and maintain Martian facilities. The handling machine is used mainly for capturing humans and draining their blood. It has two giant claws for smashing into buildings and 2 much smaller claws which come out of vents by the big claws.

Handling machines appear in the faithful, low-budget film adaptation H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, directed by Timothy Hines. These machines have six legs and a jointed tail, closely resembling a scorpion.

No handling machine is seen in any other film adaptation, though crab-like walkers appear in The Asylum's modernized War of the Worlds film, but these are fighting-machines, not handling machines, leaving the tripod appearance absent from the film.

One visualization of a handling machine was designed and built by model-maker Martin Bower.

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