I am currently reading the book War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. Having been published in 1898 in Britain, it’s very interesting to look into the historical context of the book and see why Wells might have written this story.
From the 1870s to 1900, there was a major push for the colonization of African countries by Europe. European countries were attempting to push their own way of life onto the indigenous people of Africa without any regard for the indigenous way of life. The African societies attempted resistance, but they were overpowered by the superior weapons and man power. This is very similar to the events that are set up in Wells’ book. In his book, Martians came from Mars to Earth. At first, the people of Earth were very excited to see these spaceships that were landing on Earth, but once the Martians left the spaceships they immediately started on a path of utter destruction with the goal of taking over earth. The Earthlings tried to fight back, but the Martians had powerful weapons, the most dangerous being the heat ray that “was sweeping round swiftly and steadily, this flaming death, this invisible, inevitable sword of heat” (p.39). I emphasize inevitable because there was literally no possible way for the people to stop this weapon, much like the problem that the African people faced when they were trying to resist the military force of the European countries. The Martians were hardly concerned with the wellbeing of the humans as long as they were able to execute their own agenda. Similarly, the European countries held little regard for the indigenous Africans and worked to expand their world power and diplomatic rule.
This book places the (probably Western) reader into the shoes of the African people during the European colonization of Africa. This would have been an especially clear parallel during the period it was published. Wells was trying to make people understand how the African people were probably feeling. I imagine that later in the book that either the situation gets worse to parallel life or the situation is solved in a way that Wells saw as an effective way to deal with colonization in Africa. Or there could just be super cool alien battles. We’ll see.