The War of the Worlds on Podcast: How H.G. Wells and Orson Welles Riveted A Nation

Today, by pop­u­lar demand, we’re run­ning an updat­ed ver­sion of one of our more pop­u­lar posts to date. Enjoy…

At has­tened speeds dur­ing the past year, we have seen book lovers record­ing home­grown audio­books and post­ing them on sites like Lib­rivox (see our col­lec­tion of free audio­books here). For obvi­ous copy­right rea­sons, these audio texts large­ly come from the pub­lic domain, and, yes, they’re some­times of uneven qual­i­ty. Some good, some okay. Among the recent releas­es, you’d expect to find great clas­si­cal works — the major plays by Shake­speare, the essen­tial trea­tis­es by Pla­to and oth­er philoso­phers, etc. — and you do get some of those. How­ev­er, far more often you get texts by more mod­ern writ­ers who wrote with­in the thriller, sci fi and adven­ture gen­res. Here, I’m talk­ing about Wash­ing­ton Irv­ing, Robert Louis Steven­son, Edgar Allen Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, and H.G. Wells. (Find these pod­casts here.)

It seems rather fit­ting that Wells, the father of sci­ence fic­tion, would be among the first to have his writ­ings dig­i­tal­ly record­ed and dis­trib­uted. Nowa­days, you can down­load, sync and lis­ten to his major works – The New Accel­er­a­tor (mp3), The Invis­i­ble Man (iTunesfeed), The Time Machine (iTunesfeed), and The War of the Worlds (iTunes). But what’s bet­ter than all of this, at least in our minds, is this vin­tage gem …

Here you can down­load the ver­sion of The War of the Worlds that Orson Welles famous­ly adapt­ed and aired on nation­al radio in Octo­ber 1938. Pre­sent­ed so that it sound­ed like an actu­al news broad­cast, the Orson Welles ver­sion was mis­tak­en for truth by many lis­ten­ers who caught the pro­gram mid­stream (more info here), and, soon enough, they found them­selves flee­ing an unfold­ing Mar­t­ian inva­sion, run­ning down into their base­ments with guns cocked and ready to fire. You can catch the mp3 ver­sion of the famous Welles record­ing here (and also alter­na­tive­ly here). Have fun with this broad­cast. It’s a clas­sic.

Relat­ed con­tent: For more old time, sci-fi radio broad­casts, check out this nice col­lec­tion on iTunes.

Also see: Vin­tage Radio Archive: The Lone Ranger, Abbott & Costel­lo, and Bob Hope

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