Dead London

A4, digital, 2011

The classic novels of H G Wells leave us with many memorable images, but probably none more so than the depiction in The War of the Worlds of a Martian tripod towering over the ruins of London.  A great city has been brought down by the might of alien invaders wielding advanced technology, and we see the remains of familiar landmarks such as St Paul’s Cathedral and Big Ben.

A lone human, possibly the unnamed narrator of Wells’ story, stumbles towards the machine, possibly with the aim of ending it all in his despair.  But, when we look closer, we see that the tripod is no longer active.  The Martian has been defeated by terrestrial bacteria, the humblest things on this earth, and the tripod is now itself threatened by the Martians’ own agent of destruction – the Red Weed.

Or perhaps this solitary figure knows what has happened, but already has the abiding sense of doubt and insecurity which the author describes.  He doesn’t know for sure what he’ll find, and he can’t be certain that it’s safe.  For that matter, can we?