Interest LevelReading LevelReading A-ZATOSWord Count
Grades 9 - 12Grade 10n/a9.159828
BOOK ONETHE COMING OF THE MARTIANSI.THE EVE OF THE WAR.No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth centurythat this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligencesgreater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busiedthemselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised andstudied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope mightscrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop ofwater. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globeabout their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empireover matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope dothe same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sourcesof human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of lifeupon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some ofthe mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial menfancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior tothemselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across thegulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of thebeasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic,regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew theirplans against us. And early in the twentieth century came the greatdisillusionment.The planet Mars, I scarcely need remind the reader, revolves about thesun at a mean distance of 140,000,000 miles, and the light and heat itreceives from the sun is barely half of that received by this world. Itmust be, if the nebular hypothesis has any truth, older than our world;and long before this earth ceased to be molten, life upon its surfacemust have begun its course. The fact that it is scarcely one seventh ofthe volume of the earth must have accelerated its cooling to thetemperature at which life could begin. It has air and water and allthat is necessary for the support of animated existence.Yet so vain is man, and so blinded by his vanity, that no writer, up tothe very end of the nineteenth century, expressed any idea thatintelligent life might have developed there far, or indeed at all,beyond its earthly level. Nor was it generally understood that sinceMars is older than our earth, with scarcely a quarter of thesuperficial area and remoter from the sun, it necessarily follows thatit is not only more distant from time’s beginning but nearer its end.The secular cooling that must someday overtake our planet has alreadygone far indeed with our neighbour. Its physical condition is stilllargely a mystery, but we know now that even in its equatorial regionthe midday temperature barely approaches that of our coldest winter.Its air is much more attenuated than ours, its oceans have shrunk untilthey cover but a third of its surface, and as its slow seasons changehuge snowcaps gather and melt about either pole and periodicallyinundate its temperate zones. That last stage of exhaustion, which tous is still incredibly remote, has become a present-day problem for theinhabitants of Mars. The immediate pressure of necessity has brightenedtheir intellects, enlarged their powers, and hardened their hearts. Andlooking across space with instruments, and intelligences such as wehave scarcely dreamed of, they see, at its nearest distance only35,000,000 of miles sunward of them, a morning star of hope, our ownwarmer planet, green with vegetation and grey with water, with a cloudyatmosphere eloquent of fertility, with glimpses through its driftingcloud wisps of broad stretches of populous country and narrow,
Hardcover
Published on April 1, 1982 by Goldencraft
ISBN-10: 0307616266
ISBN-13: 9780307616265
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