No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.
Book One: The Coming of the Martians, Chapter One: The Eve of War from The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, first published 1898.
Yes, well that was certainly a big, fat chunk of words to feed you. Have you managed to swallow it? That is the opening to The War of the Worlds, and I thought it be the perfect introduction to the subject.
This opening prompts an idea so, excuse me, alien, and yet, increasingly familiar as it is an idea that surfaces often enough is movies, comics and books etcetera. However, the thought that one might hear such a thing, as an introduction to a true story - a real, live event - gives me quick thrills of something akin to horror. The idea of people listening to Orson Welles perform it over the radio and thinking it all to be true, is awful, really, but incredible. What a thing to do! And how well he pulled it off! It would be incredible to sit and listen to it, wouldn't it, even knowing that it is fiction. What an experience! Tomorrow, I will have to explain the whole situation to you! What fun!