Later -- I'm told people are looking at this. OK, I'm a bitter aging Boomer who lives in Boston and works in Cambridge/ Lexington/ is laid off just now/ works in Cambridge is laid off just now .
Later still --
Many people have asked, over the past four years, what the hell my default icon is. Some of the more amusing guesses involved Lego mushrooms and Absurdist top hats and something that didn’t quite make it through the Stargate
It is none of these.
No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.
The first Martian cylinder to land on Earth landed on Horsell Common, between Horsell, Ottershaw, and Woking. Wells could have seen it from his window if he had happened to look up at the right moment. Poor Ogilvy, the astronomer, had seen it and was present when the first Martians emerged. He attempted to greet them and had the Heat Ray demonstrated for his pains. Pretty much all of Woking, in fact, was destroyed in the initial attack.
Now, a hundred years and more on, there is a sculpture of the cylinder, imbedded in the great crater it splashed out in its ballistic landing, in downtown Woking. I’ve never been there, but I can readily suppose that this was the most exciting thing to happen to the town. The old town, I suppose I should say. My icon is a picture of the sculpture of that first Martian cylinder. “the Thing that was to bring so much struggle and calamity and death to the earth.”