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The Second War of the Worlds

I’m sure you are all familiar with H. G. Wells classic SF novel The War of the Worlds. You may also be aware that it has spawned a small industry of adaptations and related stories by other authors.

This is hardly surprising, considering that WoW is the iconic alien invasion story; in a sense it established the conventions by which all other alien invasion stories are judged. What is surprising is the fact no-one I know of has ever done a true sequel. One where the Martians not only come back, but stand a real chance of winning this time!

I want to change that...

How? With your help. I hereby propose a project here on Oort-Cloud to write the story of the Second War of the Worlds. (To be tagged as 'WoW II'). This is to be an 'alternate history' shared universe with the following criteria:

  • All contributions are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License
  • Contributions may be short stories (or longer fiction works) or may be fictional news articles / broadcasts / letters / enclyclopedia entries / etc.
  • You can use any actual historical figures in your stories so long as they are dead and your characterization is consistent with the real person
  • You avoid using anyone else’s fictional characters without permission
  • You try to stay consistent with real history and/or with the divergent alternate history as worked out by the group
  • You have fun with it

If there is any interest in this project (as measured via comments on this post) I will set up a place for people to collaborate on a detailed historical timeline which we can use a guideline for the stories. As a starting point I am making the assumption that Well’s original story set in 1898 is the canonical source, along with actual world history afterwards.

One point of the original story is the fact the Martians only seemed to be invading England, perhaps because it was a large island near a major land mass and, therefore, a prime place to establish a foothold with limited resources. For our alternate history purposes I am going to assume that the Martians actually had at least two further landing points chosen for the same reasons: Japan and Cuba. This means that afterwards three countries were in full possession of Martian technology: Britain, the USA, and Japan. Other countries were able to glean some of the tech via purchase or espionage, but didn’t have the same access to the full range of Martian equipment. From there I am going to extrapolate forward in broad terms in order to establish base conditions for our alternate timeline:

While the Martian technology was still being worked out, the First World War happened on schedule; in much the same way, for much the same reasons, and with much the same results. This set everything up for the rise of Fascism in Europe and the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere of Japan’s imperial ambitions.

And those things led, inevitably, to the Second World War. Only this time with land-walkers, ICBMs, heat rays, computers, and other war machines based on Martian technologies; Germany and the Axis powers getting theirs via trade with Japan and extensive spying in England and America.

America was brought into the war on Dec 8th, 1941 not just by a surprise Japanese attack on Perl Harbor (as in our timeline), but also on Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angelos. Three days later Germany attacked nearly every major USA Eastern Seaboard city with bombers and missiles, narrowly missing most of the American government (which had been evacuated from Washington the previous night).

From there the war follows our timeline’s history in general terms, except the weapons are different and the USA is the world leader in using adapted Martian cyber-technology. Nuclear weapons are not available yet, although there are at least six known large Martian fusion generators which can be operated as power sources for aircraft carriers and, in the case of the Germans, a land juggernaut which moves like an enormous centipede. All the combatants were furiously working on the science of nuclear fusion but, as in our timeline, only the USA was putting any real effort into the more easily accessible nuclear fission.

By 1943 Germany was beginning to lose ground, as in our timeline, but both England and the USA had seen much more destruction at home, with a corresponding loss of manufacturing resources. One other significant difference is the major battle fought over the island of Madagascar in order to gain control of the newly discovered Martian landing spots (unknown and lost since 1898) in the center of the island and, hopefully, at least one working fusion generator. Another difference is what happens on September 2nd, 1943: The Martians come back. This time with defenses against bacteria and an Earth already at war with itself.

Yes, they came back. In force. And they’re out (pun intended) for blood...

Interested in helping to flesh out the story? If yes, comment below.

kelson.philo's picture

Do we have a specific date

Do we have a specific date in 1898 that the first invasion happened on? I'm needing it to set up certain things.

I did a quick skim through

I did a quick skim through Well's story, but failed to find any exact times. You can read the story and see if you can come up with something more specific than 'maybe early summer?'

I can tell you that, although WoW I was published in 1898 it appears he was setting the telling of the story around 1904 for some reason.

kelson.philo's picture

I think, for purposes of

I think, for purposes of what i'm trying to hack out, i'm going to assume that the first invasion was in 1898. The first reason is because you mentioned a pod landing in Cuba. I like that. 1898 was the year of the spanish-american war. This could have some profound consequences for cuba.

second, Fidel Castro's dad fought in the SAW and then stuck around and became wealthy off of a large sugar plantation. I think it would be neat to play around with what might happen when, instead of simply keeping 'gitmo', the americans establish some sort of r&d presence there. It also provides an opportunity to discuss some of the issues of racism and jingoism that were prevalent at the time.


The idea of exploring the aftermath on Cuba sounds really interesting.

One reason I originally chose Cuba as a Martian landing spot in WoW I was that I liked the idea of Teddy Roosevelt personally fighting the Martians during the first invasion.

kelson.philo's picture

Exactly! Rough Riders

Exactly! Rough Riders against Tripods. I dare say the Spanish and American forces would put aside their differences pretty quickly...

kelson.philo's picture

i'm game!

i'm game!

Great idea!

I really like the premise you've laid out, Jack.

I'd love to see this project happen right here at Oort Cloud. What sort of place did you have in mind for the timeline collaboration? What features would you like to have available for it?

Here on Oort-Cloud?

That was the idea; to make this a collaborative project right here on Oort Cloud. Interested parties collaborate on worldbuilding and then write their own stories set in the 'shared universe'. The ground rules I laid out were to keep people from stepping on each others toes, no more. (Although we may have to ammend the rules as we go because, in truth, we can't really enforce them except via peer pressure.)

This is basically an old idea of mine for a series of stories that I've decided to open up as a playground to the world at large and Oort Cloud in the specific. I'm hoping it drives enough interest that cool things will just happen.

For what it is worth: I hereby relenquish all claims of ownership of the basic idea (especially as it derives from Well's work anyway). This is something I want people to have fun with, and I am hoping that the community will develop its own norms as we go.


Well, I was going to just create a google office spreadsheet and open it for collaboration. Dates down the left column and notes to the right. Separate worksheet pages for 'War', 'Politics', 'Economics', 'Technology', and so on.

However anything that would let us enter a comment with a date and a category would do the trick, if we could then print out the results sorted by date and category.

paulbhartzog's picture

Creating a "Book"

I added that functionality to Oort-Cloud.

Just create a "book" from your "create content" link, and we can start working on it. It also does outlines, chapters, sections, etc.

Great idea!


OK, the timeline is set up and a couple of categories are in place. Can others edit these to add new events to the timelines? That would be much better than people adding ideas in comments and me moving them to the timeline page.

Count me in!

Sounds like fun...