H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds" still gives me the chills even after two readings. The English author's vision of his country under siege from Martian invaders balances both astounding description with creative imagination; many of his ideas here have been taken and ruined in both literature and film.
The steam-punk inspired Martian invaders antagonise the narrator, who survives the invasion and sees its effect on the nation. Telling the story through one man gives a unique and singular view on the situation, and gives the reader the chance to become more involved with the character.
Wells is a legend in science fiction literature, and literature as a whole; read this classic and see if you don't agree!