However, before this, the papers seem a little slow on the uptake: one of the first headlines after the Martians land reads, "REMARKABLE STORY FROM WOKING", The papers generally maintain a matter- of-fact calmness and understatement - an article in one paper comparing "the affair to a menagerie suddenly let loose in a village" rather than the giant mechanical death-machines that are destroying the home counties. Not only that, but when the papers finally come round to the reality of the situation, there seems to be little panic in reaction to them: "Plenty of Londoners did not hear of the Martians until the panic of Monday morning... The majority of people in London do not read Sunday papers... The habit of personal security, moreover, is so deeply fixed in the Londoner's mind, and startling intelligence so much a matter of course in the papers, that they could read without any personal tremors: 'About seven o'clock last night the Martians came out of the cylinder, and, moving about under an armour of metallic shields, have completely wrecked Woking station with the adjacent houses and massacred an entire battalion of the Cardigan Regiment... Maxims have been absolutely useless against their armour; the field-guns have been disabled by them.'"

There is a sense that whilst there are still papers operating to publish news stories, civilisation must somehow not be under threat. This is in stark contrast to the reaction of Orson Welles' 1938 radio dramatisation which memorably caused widespread panic in large areas of the eastern United States among listeners who took the fictional news reports of Martians invading New Jersey to be true: an illustration of the power of the first instant mass-media format. But, of course, we have to ask ourselves how much of the panic itself may have been 'hyped' by the media. As Wells himself said in a radio conversation with Orson Welles in 1940, "are you sure there was such a panic in America or wasn't it your Hallowe'en fun?" With regard to the 'mass' media in the novel itself, it is notable that the first paper to resume publication after the war is the Daily Mail - one of the first British papers to popularise its coverage to appeal to mass readership: The War of the Worlds is very much concerned with the fate and reaction of the proletariat to the invasion as much as it is of official reaction - the British government are given only two brief mentions.

To return to the 'war' itself, two of the weapons of the Martians elicit particular attention but for very different reasons. Their use of a "Black Smoke" - "the inhaling of its pungent wisp... was death to all that breathes" - of is striking when one considers the extent of the use of poison gas in the First World War, and the great fear of its use in every war since. Whilst under the terms of the Geneva Convention, men are free to shoot at each other, blow each up, burn each other with napalm, and so forth, the treaty outlaws the first use of chemical weapons in warfare: its use is considered somehow a dishonest, unrespectable way of killing people. And it should not be an irony lost on a world that has outlawed biological warfare that it is bacteria that spell the final end for the Martians (more of which later). The other chief weapon of the Martians is the "Heat-Ray": "An almost noiseless and blinding flash of light, and a man fell headlong and lay still; and as the unseen shaft of heat passed over them, pine-trees burst into fire, and every dry furze- bush became with one dull thud a mass of flames... It was sweeping round swiftly and steadily, this flaming death, this invisible, inevitable sword of heat." Whilst science has yet to devise such a weapon to effectively and conveniently dispose of large numbers of humans, 'ray-guns', 'disintegrating rays', 'lasers cannons', and so on have become the staple of science- fiction weaponry - from the Flash Gordon serials of the nineteen-thirties to mega- budget Hollywood productions such as 1996's Independence Day (a thinly veiled rehash of The War of the Worlds - except in this case it is a computer-virus that spells the end for the invading extra-terrestrials.)

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