H. G. Wells was a Darwinian but he wasn’t smug about it. His novel War of the Worlds portrays humankind’s panic at discovering it is not at the top of nature’s hierarchy. Martians invade earth and quickly, almost casually, brush aside all our defenses. Perched on ambulatory tripods that emit heat-rays and poisonous gas, these octopus-like creatures have a thing or two to teach Edwardian England about imperialism. But while the British entertained hopes of...
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