In 1898, the English author H.G. Wells published The War of the Worlds, a fictitious and imaginative account of an alien invasion of Earth from Mars. Towards the end of the novel’s eleventh chapter, Wells describes a scene of destruction left behind from the first Martian attack, one in which an entire town was leveled to the ground:
The fires had dwindled now. Where flames had been, there were streamers of smoke; but the countless ruins of shattered and guttered houses and blasted and blackened trees that the night had hidden stood out now gaunt and terrible in the pitiless light of dawn… Never before in the history of warfare had destruction been so indiscriminate and so universal.
Wells is often praised for the prescience he exhibits in his science fiction, and here, another one of his predictions rings true, though the details differ. It is depressing to realize that only a few decades after the publication of the The War of the Worlds, humankind itself developed planes from which bombs fell, leveling entire cities, creating the sort of destruction and misery that Wells could only imagine an inhumane and belligerent extraterrestrial race being capable of.