The Great Leonard Nimoy Reads H.G. Wells’ Seminal Sci-Fi Novel The War of the Worlds

As you know if you saw our pre­vi­ous posts fea­tur­ing Leonard Nimoy’s read­ings of sto­ries by Ray Brad­bury and Isaac Asi­mov, the late Star Trek icon could — unsur­pris­ing­ly, per­haps — tell a sci­ence-fic­tion tale with the best of them. It turns out that he could also give mas­ter­ful read­ings of sci­ence fic­tion from oth­er eras too, as far back as the ear­li­est works to define the genre, which we’ve dis­cov­ered after hear­ing his per­for­mance of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, an out-of-print edi­tion recent­ly dig­i­tized from cas­sette tape and post­ed to Youtube in two parts.

With this sto­ry of Earth invad­ed from “across the gulf of space” by aliens with “minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that per­ish, intel­lects vast and cool and unsym­pa­thet­ic,” Wells did much to help give sci­ence fic­tion the form we rec­og­nize today. The War of the Worlds came out in book form in 1898, pre­ced­ed by such sim­i­lar­ly spec­u­la­tive and inno­v­a­tive works as The Time Machine and The Invis­i­ble Man, and then fol­lowed by the likes of The First Men in the Moon and The Shape of Things to Come. (Find most of these works neat­ly pack­aged in the HG Wells Clas­sic Col­lec­tion.) This Leonard Nimoy record­ing orig­i­nal­ly came out in 1976, pub­lished by the record label Caed­mon, known for doing plen­ty of inno­va­tion of their own in the then-yet-unnamed field of audio­books.

Caed­mon put out not just this album and the one with Nimoy read­ing Brad­bury, but oth­ers fea­tur­ing Kurt Von­negut, Vin­cent Price, Ten­nessee Williams, T.S. Eliot, Ernest Hem­ing­way, and Sylvia Plath. As much as sci­ence-fic­tion die-hards will enjoy hear­ing this pair­ing of Nimoy and Wells here, some will cer­tain­ly want to track down the actu­al LP — not just for the col­lec­tors’ val­ue, but because it fea­tures lin­er notes by none oth­er than that oth­er vast­ly influ­en­tial cre­ator of sci-fi as we know it, Isaac Asi­mov. It looks like there’s one used copy on Ama­zon. The read­ing, we should note, is an abridged ver­sion of the orig­i­nal text.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Leonard Nimoy Reads Ray Brad­bury Sto­ries From The Mar­t­ian Chron­i­cles & The Illus­trat­ed Man (1975–76)

Isaac Asimov’s Favorite Sto­ry “The Last Ques­tion” Read by Isaac Asi­mov— and by Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy Nar­rates Short Film About NASA’s Dawn: A Voy­age to the Ori­gins of the Solar Sys­tem

Col­in Mar­shall writes else­where on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­maand the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future? Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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