The War of the Worlds was a science fiction novel written by H.G. Wells. It told the story of a Martian invasion of Earth in the late 19th century.
Part of the novel described a British Royal Navy warship, the HMS Thunder Child, drawing enemy fire to allow civilians to escape. (The Official Starships Collection #12: "USS Thunderchild NCC-63549")
James Wainwright, Trip Tucker, and Jean-Luc Picard all read The War of the Worlds as children. (TOS short story: "The Aliens Are Coming!", ENT episode: "Similitude", TNG - Section 31 novel: Rogue)
On 30 October 1938, Orson Welles and The Mercury Theatre on the Air presented a radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds. (DS9 short story: "Captain Proton and the Orb of Bajor")
The broadcast caused a mass panic in the United States of America as many believed that it was in fact a news report about a real Martian invasion. Wainwright, who was then 21, did not hear the broadcast but read about it in the newspapers the next day. On September 23, 1947, Professor Jeffrey Carlson told him that there was a theory that the broadcast was used as a cover story for the discovery of an actual alien spaceship. However, Wainwright dismissed this theory, branding it "crazy." (TOS novel: From History's Shadow)