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.
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 Cinema, and the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future? Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.