Although Orson Welles, Mercury Theatre and the Columbia Broadcasting System couldn't "soap the windows" of their listeners the night before Halloween back in 1938, they could annihilate the world for them. And that's exactly what they did with this radio adaptation of H.G. Wells' famous novel, War of the Worlds. The adaptation was written by Howard Koch, and it was realistic enough to panic some listeners who tuned in too late to realize the broadcast was merely a prank.
Koch used his medium to good effect, couching the first part of his drama as a series of special news reports interrupting a "regular" program of dance music. These updates on the seemingly innocent scientific oddity taking place on Mars served to pique interest, which Koch quickly built on with breathtaking, on-the-scene reports from Grover's Mill. How could listeners help but perch on the edge of their seats as Carl Phillips coolly intoned phrases such as, "I'll give you every detail as long as I can talk..."?
As the Martians spread their terror throughout New Jersey, Koch jacked up the tension using radio reports from the infantry and air force. These messages would ominously fall silent as the troops engaged the invaders, occasionally preceded by a telling, "Only one thing left..." Koch then used the show's intermission to segue into the first-person account of the "end of the world" by Pearson, a haunting and poignant monologue spoken by Welles.
It's easy to see why this broadcast created genuine panic back in 1938, and today it still stands as one of the most exhilarating SF radio shows in history. It is easily equal to Wells' original masterpiece.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By excavatorjohn on 13-12-14
Dated but still a great story
Would you listen to War of the Worlds again? Why?
I will probably listen to this dramatised story again. It is a fantastic story, interestingly presented as a news broadcast which is why it caused a panic when originally broadcast. The reports were very well narrated / acted and were realistic and almost convincing even though it is very far fetched. Only because it's now slightly dated have I given it 4 stars overall NOT 5.
What did you like best about this story?
The really original concept and great twist at the end.
Which character – as performed by Carl Phillips and Orson Wells – was your favourite?
Carl Phillips the reporter was my favourite character because he kept his cool remarkably well despite what he was seeing.
Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
It made me feel awe at the thought that maybe life could exist on other planets (but clearly NOT Mars).
Any additional comments?
Great play well worth a listen.
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