England: the late nineteenth century! The heart of a massive planet straddling empire! In the genteel Home Counties, the English middle classes need fear nothing. Well obviously they should fear that within a few years Britain will be drawn into an horrific European war whose impact will spread to all parts of the world as multiple empires fight for dominance but in the process destroy the very basis of European empire, a process that will also lead to communist revolution and eventually an even more virulent form of German nationalism and also the end of the British Empire itself in a historical process that will eventually lead those self-same Home Counties middle class into thinking that listening to Boris Johnson is a good idea. Who better to puncture this bubble of complacency than H.G.Wells who wrote the excellent notes for Jeff Wayne’s concept album.
Meanwhile, across the vast emptiness of space incredible minds were watching Earth and thinking “I know, let’s invade Surrey”. You have to remember that this wasn’t the 1950s when invading aliens preferred to target sleepy small towns in America. This was the nineteenth century and if you were an alien and you were thinking of making a trip to Earth, your first thought was “Surrey”. It’s a case of a local tourist board being just a bit too successful with their promotion of local sights. “Visit Sunny Woking” said the brochure that a Martian advance scout had picked up at Waterloo Station in an extremely brief visit in 1885. It was actually her only venture out from her capsule that had landed in the back garden of Lambeth Palace and she’d faked up her whole reconnaissance report on the basis of this one pamphlet.
“Go for bracing walks on Horsell Common”, sounded lovely she thought as she shivered in her capsule, struck down by a nasty case of the flu. “This is a nasty case of the flu I’ve got, “ she thought but as the Martians had never developed the use of dramatic irony in their literature, she didn’t think to mention in her report that London was essentially a clearing-house for every virulent disease on the planet.
Tippy-tap on her Martian radio-telegram machine she typed her message in Martian Morse code which was nothing like Human Morse code but coincidentally had been invented by a Martian named Morse. Technically “Morse” was his nickname and was short for “More sauce!”, the word “sauce” being the Martian term for primate blood which was both a staple food and an intoxicant on Mars.
Where did they get primate blood from? Glad you asked. So space probes with monkeys in them sent up in the 1950s travelled back through space wormholes and landed on Mars millennia earlier. That’s why nobody shoots monkey’s into space anymore because of the time-travel wormholes and the whole “Planet of the Apes” type scenarios that you get. All the space dogs landed on Titan which is how it ended up covered in methane. Nobody sent cats into space because there is no way we’d get into those death traps.
So the Martian fire themselves off their planet using giant space guns because they are off-their-face on primate-sauce during a particularly wild party which had been running for maybe two Martian years. The booze was running low and somebody remembered that there was a whole planet full of primates near-by. “Woah! No way am I going to the Planet of the Apes!” said one inebriated Martian, “Roddy McDowall freaks me out.” No, no explains everybody else, they plan to go to Earth not the Planet of the Apes. “Well, that’s OK then,” because, like I said, no sense of dramatic irony.
Anyhoo. Boom crash. The Martians land in Surrey and it’s not a terrible choice as there are regular trains to the centre of London and yet the hotel prices are cheaper than in the city. “Let’s go nuts with the death ray!” the Martians shout on their party bus/space cylinder. Zappp, zappp. “Let’s go for a ride in our tripods!” they shout, getting a tad too rowdy now. Off they go, zapping and tripoding about and blowing up dreadnoughts.
Well, all good parties come to an end sooner or later and before you know it the Martians are either dead, ill or badly hungover. The invasion has ended.
Back at Martian HQ minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic regarded these events with face-palming exasperation.
“Whose, frickin’ idea was it to land on an ISLAND?” said the chief Martian war general whose full name was Patricia but she liked to be called Patty because it was more approachable.
“I’m not sure,” said Mike the Martian (who was called that because people got confused with Mike from Phobos, which was an easy mistake to make as they both lacked the same sense of humour). “We were all VERY drunk at the time.”
“And nobody, not a single one of you, thought to back a BOAT?” screamed Patty, except she screamed it in Martian so it sounded like “OOOOO LAAAA”
“That’s frankly unreasonable Patty,” said Mike the Martian, “We live on an arid planet and have zero concept of water transport and frankly it’s weird that we even have a word for ‘boat’”
“I tried to warn them all.” said Doug the Microbiologist.
Patty turned to him sympathetically: “It’s not your fault that the whole Martian Invasion Force/Interplanetary Party Bus were anti-vaxxers and thought they could protect themselves with homeopathic highly dilute human nose droppings.”
It’s only later that in a shocking twist the Martians discover that Earth is the Planet of the Apes!