Archive for the ‘H.G. Wells’ Category
I met Rinn of Rinn Reads when she hosted Science Fiction Month back in November. What a great event! Not only because science fiction is near and dear to my heart, but because Rinn did an amazing job of getting authors and publishers involved AND getting bloggers who weren’t so sure about science fiction to pick up a few titles. People, this is what I love about the blogosphere. Someone says “hey, I’d like to do this, who wants to join me?” and suddenly a hundred people are raising their hands.
Why H.G. Well’s classic The War of the Worlds is still today, by Rinn
“No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own…” (page 1)
And so H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds begins, with these immortal and haunting words. To me, it is up there with those fantastic opening lines that include Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. But it’s not just the opening line that really has an impact – the entire book was, at the time, a brand new concept and something really quite shocking, and over one hundred years later it still grips and surprises: it is a timeless classic. It has been adapted time and time again, for the screen, stage and radio, and has influenced so many other authors and works, and even an entirely new genre of invasion fiction.
The War of the Worlds has been interpreted in many ways. Commentary on British imperialism, or perhaps Victorian fears, Mars was a very apt planet to use either way. Mars is the Roman god of war, equivalent to Greek Ares; where better for these alien soldiers and destroyers to come from? Wells was not the first to have this idea: it was used as early as 1880 in Percy Greg’s Across the Zodiac.
One of the scariest parts of the book is how the human race is completely and utterly powerless against the alien invasion – at least in in the tradition way. Weapons barely make a dent, and even taking down a tripod or two requires some sacrifices. The people watching the HMS Thunder Child fight a tripod believe that they are seeing progress, only to have the ship sink in front of their eyes. Their weapons include the Heat Ray, which burns people up instantly, the Black Smoke, a poisonous gas which chokes people to death, and the Red Weed. Were those aliens to invade today, when we’ve made so many technological advances, would we fare any better? Some people may look upon our ancestors of the nineteenth century with scorn, and have no doubt that today’s modern warfare would annihilate the Martians – and perhaps we would stand more of a chance – but it doesn’t just come down to that. Another factor to come into it is how we would react.
The War of the Worlds Broadcast, by Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow
Lisa is a Scottish blogger and voracious reader of science fiction and fantasy in most of its forms. Tea junkie, Dresdenphile, nail polish enthusiast, nibbler of cheese, devourer of cake.
Original air date: October 30th, 1938
Aired on: Columbia Broadcasting System
Where I got it: Amazon UK – MP3 (original recording)
My rating: 4/5
This adaptation of the H.G. Wells classic sci-fi novel was performed by Orson Welles, in a Halloween episode of the radio drama anthology series The Mercury Theatre On The Air. There have been a good few adaptations of this story over the years, from TV and movies to a bestselling album, but for this year’s Vintage Sci-Fi Month – and given the approaching Retro Hugos event at this year’s Worldcon – I thought I’d go right back to the ‘Panic Broadcast’, as well as reviewing the original novel.
For those who might not know the story, the broadcast of this adaptation, thanks to the news bulletin-style presentation of the first two thirds, apparently caused a widespread panic among listeners who believed the events being ‘reported’ were really happening.