the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Clem

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WhiteKiboko said:
i thought the heat rays were supposed to be invisible :grad: .....

WK,

Fear not: the heat-ray devices as drawn produce no visible beam. The weird flamethrower wielded by the tripod on the cover is just that, a weird flamethrower (augmented by one of the Martians' Black Smoke weapons, itself a nasty form of "inking").

Clem
 

Phil

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OK This is probably the most nerdy post that I have ever written, but here goes anyway...........

WhiteKiboko said:
i thought the heat rays were supposed to be invisible :grad: ..... oh well.... i do love the name of the battleship in the book.....

Absolutely, the heat rays were indeed invisible in the book, though this does not make for a very dramatic image in illustrations so I think we can forgive artists for depicting visible beams!

As you probably know, there never was an HMS Thunderchild. Interestingly, although it normally seems to be depicted as a battleship, such as the Formidable class (?) vessel on the Jeff Wayne's musical version cover, the Thunderchild is referred to as a torpedo ram in the novel. Indeed the Royal Navy did indeed have a vessel of this type in service at the time of the WOTW setting (1894) and this vessel must have provided the inspiration for Wells when he chose the ship type. The vessel in question was HMS Polyphemus which was built in 1881 and served much of its career in the Mediterranean. The construction type was unusual as it had a massive ram under the bow in a manner similar to ancient Greek and Roman triremes. It was armed with forward and midships torpedo tubes below the water line and six quick firing rotating machine guns on deck. It seems the Martians must have been vunerable to machine gun fire! I attach a picture of HMS Polyphemus if anyone is interested.

Anyway, on the subject of cephalopods it is interesting that HG Wells depicts the Martians as very octopus like with a quivering beak and sixteen tentacles arranged around the mouth in two bunches of eight. There is a subtle implication in the text that this form of arrangement is the ultimate end of the evolution of hands, and that the Martian form stems from creatures not too dissimilar to ourselves. The Martians also brought with them bipedal creatures to feed on en route to earth in their cylinders, doubtless reinforcing the view that vertebrates were just cattle to the aliens and that the cephalopod arrangement was a far superior one.

Perhaps we are all changing into cephalopods slowly?

Hmm..........must get out more.
 

Clem

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Phil said:
I attach a picture of HMS Polyphemus if anyone is interested.

Phil,

Well, she was a trim vessel, wasn't she? Was this class of torpedo-ram originally intended to serve as a coastal defense vessel? That low COG would've been perfect for toppling alien milking-stools.

Not that I think about such things, mind you.

Anyway, on the subject of cephalopods it is interesting that HG Wells depicts the Martians as very octopus like with a quivering beak and sixteen tentacles arranged around the mouch in two bunches of eight. There is a subtle implication in the text that this form of arrangement is the ultimate end of the evolution of hands...

Can't you just see young Wells under Thomas Huxley's tutelage, peering at an octopus preserved in a cylindrical jar of alcohol? H.G. puts his hand on the cylinder and thinks.

Sorry to see your latest post-pub ammonite acquisition got so messy.

Clem
 

Phil

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Clem said:
Was this class of torpedo-ram originally intended to serve as a coastal defense vessel? That low COG would've been perfect for toppling alien milking-stools.

Yes, that's right. Apparantly she was built as a response to the appearance of small torpedo boats that were believed to be a potential threat to the large capital ships. Polyphemus would was supposed to engage torpedo boats using its own torpedos and used its ram as a secondary weapon. This ship had a strange arrangement of a second rudder in the bow section that was retractable; this was to allow for last minute course corrections in a ramming attempt. The ship was by necessity fast and could reach a speed (I think) of 18 knots. It was believed at the time that as armour was developing faster than naval artillery, the naval gun could potentially be made redundant, which is why the ram was adopted.

I think the ship may have served as coastal defence off Gibralter but I have not been able to confirm that.

Nice idea about Wells and Huxley and the genesis of TWOTW; you never know, you may have cracked it!

Ulla!

Phil
 
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