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A Short History of The War of The Worlds

January 14, 2019

 

The War of the Worlds is my absolute favourite story. It is a classic science fiction tale of alien invasion, and the fight for survival against all odds. It is one of the most influential tales of the coming of Martians that has exapnded beyond literary relevance and was the cornerstone for many radio productions, musicals, and performances beyond that.

 

The War of the Worlds was first published in 1898 as a science fiction novel created by H.G. Wells, the "father of science fiction". The novel is a first-person narrative of an unnamed protagonist and his younger brother in Surrey and London as southern England is invaded by Martians. The novel was influenced by the work of scientists who invented liquid ruelled rockets and the multistage rocket that resulted in the Apollo 11 moon landing 71 years later.

 

The most famous adaption of The War of the Worlds then came in 1938 with a radio broadcast that was narrated and directed by Orson Welles. Welles presented the first two-thirds of the narrative as a 60 minute broadcasted news bulletin which led to wide-spread panic from listeners who truly believed the Earth was being invaded by Martians at the time. I have personally listened to this broadcast, and it's easy to see why they believed it to be real. This broadcast is known as one of the most well-known and wide-spread pranks in history.

 

After the novel and radio broadcast, a musical album of the story was produced by musical mastermind Jeff Wayne in 1978. The best selling album was a retelling of the novel with amazing music thrown in. The two CD tracklisting was the soundtrack to many road trips up to Sydney and was what inspired my love of The War of the Worlds tale. Much later in the history of the musical album, many large-scale concerts toured the Western world featuring projected computer graphics and even a large Martian fighting machine on stage. I have seen both the professional production and a smaller-scale reproduction of these concerts and it stands as one of the most amazing shows I have ever seen.

 

Many other adaptions sprang from The War of the Worlds, including a sequel novel called The Masscare of Mankind by Stephen Baxter, and a rather crtitically-bombed Steven Spielbery movie released in 2005 starring Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning, which recentered the tale to middle American and removed the classic English style literature element.

 

The tale of The War of the Worlds - the novel, radio broadcast and musical album - has maintained itself as an integeral part of my passion and love for horror and science fiction. I wrote Cosmic Decay: Contamination based on my love of H.G. Wells' iconic novel and it continues to influence me strongly today. I suggest you check out these iconic retellings yourself and let me know what you think!

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