1. In the 2005 film adaptation of War of the Worlds, the heat ray instantly cremates humans, turning them into a fine grey dust reminiscent of the dust that covered parts of Manhattan after 9/11. In the original novel and radio adaptation, however, the Heat Ray leaves corpses “charred and distorted beyond recognition” (p.27). [in radio version: “burned and distorted beyond all possible recognition (radio broadcast, 19:30)] How can we account for this difference in deaths? In what ways are these differences a reflection of warfare in the respective times that each work was made? More broadly, what other works of science fiction introduce new ways of dying, and what are their metaphorical meanings?

2. Wells’ book and its adaptations minimize the power, agency, and overall importance of humankind. Humans do nothing specific to provoke the Martians and are unable to defeat them. In the 2005 film adaptation, humankind has been doomed from the beginning as the Martians have buried machinery on the earth before human existence. Is there anyway that humankind could have avoided this fate? What can humankind do to avoid or survive future Martian invasion?

3. In the beginning of the book, Wells makes repeated reference to heather. He walks through it, runs through in, hides in it. He describes the tripod walking through the heather (p48) and how it is blackened by destruction (p72). At the end of the book, Wells makes similarly repeated mentions of the Martian’s red weed that has grown over the countryside (p.187) and landmarks like Waterloo Bridge (p.187). What is the comparative significance of these two plants? In what ways do they represent natural world, or a changes in nature? More generally, how does Wells’ descriptions of nature evolve throughout the book?


P.S. How did the wife survive?