List of works based on The War of the Worlds

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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.[citation needed]

Following its publication, The War of the Worlds rapidly entered popular culture. Through the 20th and 21st centuries, the novel has been adapted in various media, including radio, television and film. These have been produced with varying degrees of faithfulness to 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 Americanised above, relocated the location from its original setting of the United Kingdom in favour of the United States. The most recent adaptation of this type was produced in Canada and broadcast on Britain's BBC (autumn 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.





  • 1938: The War of the Worlds (radio), the Orson Welles' 1938 radio adaptation, script by Howard E. Koch.
  • 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 adapted from the novel by Jon Manchip White, 6 episodes.
  • 1955: The Lux Radio Theater: War of the Worlds, adaptation of the 1953 Film.
  • 1967: The War of the Worlds, BBC radio dramatisation using the 1950 Jon Manchip White script, 6 episodes.
  • 1968: The War of the Worlds (radio 1968), WKBW radio adaptation.
  • 1971: War Of The Worlds radio broadcast, Rádio Difusora, São Luís, Brazil.
  • 1988: The War of the Worlds, an NPR 50th Anniversary radio adaptation with Jason Robards, using a slightly updated version of the Howard E. Koch. script.
  • 2002: The War of the Worlds, Glenn Beck's Mercury Radio Arts recreates the 1938 program live on Halloween 2002, using exactly the same Howard E. Koch script as Orson Welles. The program was sponsored by Bill's Khakis.
  • 2005: La Guerra de los Mundos, radio broadcast, Rock & Pop, Santiago, Chile, broadcast as promotion of the 2005 movie.[3]
  • 2017: The War of the Worlds, BBC radio dramatization adapted from the novel by Melissa Murray, 2 episodes.
  • 2018: The Coming of the Martians, Colin Morgan stars in a faithful audio dramatisation of the original 1897 story by Sherwood Sound Studios and produced in 5.1 surround sound.
  • 2018: The Martian Invasion of Earth, an audio drama adaptation for Big Finish Productions, adapted by Nicholas Briggs, and starring Richard Armitage and Lucy Briggs-Owen [4].



Comic books[edit]


  • 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.[6]
  • 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[7]
  • 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.[8]
  • 2017: War of the Worlds 2017, a mixed web media story primarily told through Twitter, centered on a modern group of characters while retaining concepts from the original novel.[9]

1938 radio adaption by Orson Welles[edit]

Orson Welles's 1938 radio broadcast on The Mercury Theatre on the Air purportedly caused public outcry, as many listeners believed that an actual Martian invasion was in progress,[10] although the reality of the panic is disputed as the program had relatively few listeners.[11]

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.[12]

1953 first film adaptation by George Pal[edit]

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, bulky 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.

Unreleased adaptations[edit]

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.[13]

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."[14]

Sequels by other authors[edit]

  • 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.[15]
  • 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.
  • The London Pen (La cage de Londres, 2003)[16], by French-Canadian author Jean-Pierre Guillet, takes place one hundred years after a second successful Martian invasion. Humans are penned like cattle and «milked» regularly by their new masters, who feed on their blood.
  • 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 New York Times best selling author, Stephen Baxter, has a novel-length sequel; entitled The Massacre of Mankind, released on 19 January 2017.[17]
  • Indie author D.G.Leigh has written two novellas. "Sherlock Holmes Vs The War of the Worlds" (2015).[18] The original Wells' invasion as experienced by Mr Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson. The second publication takes places twenty years later. This time the protagonist is the teenage son of the Journalist living in the Artilleryman's subterranean metropolis.[19] The title of this story is identical to Stephen Baxter's official release "The Massacre of Mankind" (2017).
  • The 2019 speculative fiction book Spacecraft of the First World War: A Compendium of Fighting Vessels of the Great Powers by William Flogg details a fictional alternate history stemming from the aftermath of the Martian invasion, in which humanity reverse-engineers the leftover Martian technology to create interplanetary warships, which are documented in the style of a fictional vessel encyclopedia.


  1. ^ "New World forms two new kidvid banners". Variety. 8 December 1992. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  2. ^ "New World Expands TV Program Activities". Los Angeles Times. 9 December 1992. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  3. ^ "R&P Alerta, Capitulo 1". YouTube. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ The War Of The Worlds, The Art of H.G.Wells trading card series
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Lovgren, Stefan (17 June 2005). "'War of the Worlds': Behind the 1938 Radio Show Panic". National Geographic. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  11. ^ Pooley, Jefferson; Socolow, Michael (28 October 2013). "The Myth of the War of the Worlds Panic". Slate. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  12. ^ Big Finish Productions: Invaders from Mars
  13. ^ 'War of the Worlds' – Ray Harryhausen Martian test footage
  14. ^ Ray Harryhausen and Nick Park Archived 21 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Edison’s Conquest of Mars, "Foreword" by Robert Godwin, Apogee Books 2005
  16. ^ "La Cage de Londres". Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  17. ^ Baxter, Stephen (19 January 2017). The Massacre of Mankind. Gollancz.
  18. ^
  19. ^