The handling-machine is a machine created by the Martians and used during their invasion of earth. It is crab-like in appearance, with 6 legs and claws. It is small in stature compared to the tripods. In the book it's main funtion is to construct and disassemble things.
According to the Martian Technology Report:
The mechanism it certainly was that held my attention first. It was one of those complicated fabrics that have since been called handling-machines, and the study of which has already given such an enormous impetus to terrestrial invention. As it dawned upon me first, it presented a sort of metallic spider with five jointed, agile legs, and with an extraordinary number of jointed levers, bars, and reaching and clutching tentacles about its body. Most of its arms were retracted, but with three long tentacles it was fishing out a number of rods, plates, and bars which lined the covering and apparently strengthened the walls of the cylinder... Its motion was so swift, complex, and perfect that at first I did not see it as a machine, in spite of its metallic glitter. The fighting-machines were co-ordinated and animated to an extraordinary pitch, but nothing to compare with this. People who have never seen these structures, and have only the ill-imagined efforts of artists or the imperfect descriptions of such eye-witnesses as myself to go upon, scarcely realise that living quality...
...At first, I say, the handling-machine did not impress me as a machine, but as a crablike creature with a glittering integument, the controlling Martian whose delicate tentacles actuated its movements seeming to be simply the equivalent of the crab's cerebral portion. But then I perceived the resemblance of its grey-brown, shiny, leathery integument to that of the other sprawling bodies beyond, and the true nature of this dexterous workman dawned upon me.
After the Fighting-Machine, the Handling-Machines seem to have been the most common artifact brought to Earth by the Martians. They were used extensively within the Martians' pits, either assembling other machines, or operating the devices used to refine earth into useful metals, or moving various items around the pit. It seems that the Martians are able to use these machines almost as extensions of their own bodies, having complete control over the actions of their myriad manipulatory appendages.
The machine itself resembles nothing so much as a large, metallic crab, flat and broad across the top of the carapace, with the Martian operator residing in a hood on top of the machine, from where it works a complex series of levers to activate the assortment of devices attached to the machine. The six articulated legs are activated by the sham musculature previously described. The various arms, tentacles, levers and instruments show a very high precision in engineering and control, allowing the Martians to handle even the most delicate items quite safely. Appendages which are not being used are retracted into the main body of the machine, in order to avoid encumbering the operation of the active devices.
Handling-machine in other mediaEdit
The Handling Machine has a key role in Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds. It has 6 legs, 2 claws, two green eyes and a basket, in order to collect humans from Earth (Unlike in the novel, where the Tripods take this role).
In Jeff Wayne's The War of the Worlds(1998), the Handling Machines role changes again being the Martians main construction unit tasked with creating Martian buildings.
Only one film to date features a handling machine: Pendragon Pictures' H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds. The handling-machine in this version is an almost perfect adaptation of the one in the book. It is relatively small, slightly taller than humans. It is scorpion like in appearance.