The fictional story of HMS Thunder Child comes from H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds science fiction story set in Victorian Britain of 1898 during the height of the British Empire. In one part of the story, a paddle steamer is evacuating refugees from Britain as the population are trying to flee from giant tripods controlled by alien Martians. As the paddle steamer leaves the town of Maldon upon the River Blackwater; three martian tripods come across the Essex landscape and wade into the River Blackwater in pursuit of the fleeing paddle steamer crammed with screaming refugees.
The old ironclad HMS Thunder Child sounds its klaxons and steams into action and makes a suicidal attack against the three Martian tripods. The event is also celebrated in the Jeff Wayne Musical of War of the Worlds with an entire song dedicated to Thunder Child.
The Extrapolation Novel; The Last Days of Thunder Child is focused on the days before, leading up to the event of the Battle of the Blackwater, when HMS Thunder Child confronts the alien Martians and their tripod fighting machines.