H. G. Wells' prophetic The War in the Air foretold the use of airplanes in warfare and the coming of World War I. First serialized in 1907 and published in book form in 1908, the novel tells the story of the forward-thinking tinkerer Bert Smallways. Alfred Butteridge is said to be the only English aviator to know the "secret of the flying machine." When Bert Smallways accidentally falls into Butteridge's hot air balloon, he soon finds himself enmeshed in a German plot to bomb New York city. The setting is the outbreak of war as German forces attempt to dominate the air before the Americans can succeed in building a large aerial navy. On the other side of the United States tensions with the "Confederation of Eastern Asia", an allegiance between China and Japan, compound into full scale war, leaving the U.S. to fight on both eastern and western fronts, on sea and in the air.

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