Part 1

The Eve of the War

           Noonewouldhavebelievedinthelastyearsofthenineteenthcentury thatthisworldwasbeingwatchedkeenlyandcloselybyintelligences greaterthanman’sandyetasmortalashisown; thatasmenbusiedthemselvesabouttheirvariousconcernstheywerescrutinisedandstudied, perhapsalmostasnarrowlyasamanwithamicroscopemightscrutinisethetransientcreatures thatswarmandmultiplyinadropofwater. Withinfinitecomplacencymenwenttoandfrooverthisglobe abouttheirlittleaffairs,sereneintheirassuranceoftheirempireovermatter. Itispossiblethattheinfusoriaunderthemicroscopedothesame. Noonegaveathoughttotheolderworldsofspaceassourcesofhumandanger, orthoughtofthemonlytodismisstheideaoflifeuponthemasimpossibleorimprobable. Itiscurioustorecallsomeofthementalhabitsofthosedeparteddays. AtmostterrestrialmenfanciedtheremightbeothermenuponMars, perhapsinferiortothemselvesandreadytowelcomeamissionaryenterprise. Yetacrossthegulfofspace,mindsthataretoourmindsasoursaretothoseofthebeaststhatperish,intellectsvastandcoolandunsympathetic,regardedthisearthwithenviouseyes, andslowlyandsurelydrewtheirplansagainstus. Andearlyinthetwentiethcenturycamethegreatdisillusionment. 

           TheplanetMars,Iscarcelyneedremindthereader, revolvesaboutthesunatameandistanceof140,000,000miles, andthelightandheatitreceivesfromthesunisbarelyhalfofthatreceivedbythisworld. Itmustbe,ifthenebularhypothesishasanytruth,olderthanourworld; andlongbeforethisearthceasedtobemolten,lifeuponitssurfacemusthavebegunitscourse. Thefactthatitisscarcelyoneseventhofthevolumeoftheearth musthaveaccelerateditscoolingtothetemperature atwhichlifecouldbegin. Ithasairandwaterandallthatisnecessaryforthesupportofanimatedexistence. 

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