In many respects, The War of the Worlds is a tale told before. For instance, the Aztecs of Mexico first took Hernando Cortes and his men to be benevolent gods when the Spaniards arrived early in the sixteenth century. The Aztecs were puzzled by the Spaniards’ mighty horses, which they had never seen before; but when they realized that the men of Cortes were not “gods” but instead conquerors, they fought and were slaughtered by weapons vastly superior to their own. Wells’s tale of the tragedy wrought by the colonialist impulse is thus lent force by historical precedent.
Wells stresses the idea that technological sophistication and moral development do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. The idea that ethics must keep pace with humanity’s ability to transform the natural world if cruelty and disaster are to be avoided is a point well worth making, even in the present day-and the idea that superior technological skills do not make one a moral person is a concept that young adults should come to understand.