|The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells p. 1898|
The War of the Worlds
by H.G. Wells
For my money The War of the Worlds is the best of H.G. Wells top hits because he wrote it before the concept of "World War" i.e. World War I, World War II, was current. In other words, his War between Worlds preceded the concept of a global war, and it seems like his story may have even provided the inspiration for the phrase "World War" considering the publication date of 1898, and the coming of the Great War/World War I almost 15 years later.
The War of the Worlds, in addition to being the first novel written about an interplanetary conflict, is also the first novel to describe the mass destruction of an industrial society that would become commonplace in the 20th century. It's hard to imagine the impact that The War of the Worlds must have had among the initial audience. I can't think of another book that comes close to describing the Biblical-level destruction that the Aliens wreak on the area around London before they are felled by their lack of immunity to our germs and diseases (praise Darwin!!)
The War of the Worlds is also interesting for Wells' description of what essentially sound like robots before such a term existed. Truly, The War of the Worlds is a clear indicator that the genre of science fiction had great potential for power as a popular literary genre.