One of the most famous science-fiction stories ever written, The War of the Worlds/ helped launch the entire genre by exploiting the concept of interplanetary travel. First published in 1898, the novel terrified readers of the Victorian era with its accounts of an invasion of hostile creatures from Mars who moved across the English landscape in bizarre metal transports, using deadly heat rays to destroy buildings and annihilate all life in their path. Its power to stir the imagination was made abundantly clear when Orson Welles adapted the story for a radio drama on Halloween night in 1938 and created a national panic. Lexile Measure:/ 1040L Copyright 1997. Author: H.G. Wells. 145 pages, paperback, 5 by 8 inches, middle school/high school.