Published On: Sun, Nov 24th, 2019

War of the Worlds BBC shock: HG Wells actually based his book on REAL events on Mars | Books | Entertainment


The books were first serialised in 1897 and published in full a year later. These days mankind has actually photographed the surface of Mars and we are used to Sci-Fi tales of alien invasion on the big and small screen. But, incredibly, the author based his sensational novel on real events in the late 19th Century, including pictures.

Did aliens actually reach Earth a century ago? Well, not that we know.

The latest BBC adaptation opens with Robert Carlysle’s amateur astronomer Ogilvy accidentally capturing the moment the Martians blasted off from their dying planet to invade Earth.

Strange lights are seen coming off the surface of the red planet. 

In real life, HG Wells was inspired by reports of unusual lights being observed and photographed on Mars. 

READ MORE: Mars horror: NASA discovery shows deadly dangers astronauts would face

In 1894 there was a scientific paper published which reported exactly that.

A French astronomer observed a ‘strange light’ on Mars, and published his data in the scientific journal Nature on August, 2.

This was the direct inspiration for the way Wells opens his novel – and the latest BBC adaptation also follows suit.

The 1890s were also a time when scientists were considering evidence of possible civilised life on Mars, related to the planet’s most notorious feature.

Lowell suggested the canals could have been constructed as a final desperate attempt to irrigate an arid and dying planet.

Wells took the idea further and then created the scenario where the Martian race abandons its home after it can no longer support life.

A century later scientists are still searching for evidence and four US Mars rovers have landed on the planet since 1997.

In 2016, NASA confirmed they were “searching for evidence of ancient life,” including organic carbon-based life-forms and proof of former plains or rivers which may have been habitable.

The first three Mars rovers –  Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity – all eventually were lost due to mechanical failure or sandstorms blocking the solar energy used to power the units.

The fourth and final one, Curiosity, was launched on November 26, 2011, and landed at the Aeolis Palus plain near Aeolis Mons (informally “Mount Sharp”) in Gale Crater on August 6, 2012. As of this month, it is still operational.

Perhaps one day that science fiction may still turn out to be science…



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