I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
What a remarkable radio dramatization of H. G. Wells??? classic novel The War of the Worlds Orson Welles and company made! They effectively distilled the essential elements from the novel into an American context, producing a concise 59-minute program that made me feel that I was listening to an intense night of terror followed by days of existential wandering and wondering.
After a voice proclaims that we are listening to a Mercury Theater presentation of The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, Orson Welles intones a condensed version of the brilliant opening of the novel, and then quickly sets up the conceit of the first part of the broadcast, that we are listening to a radio program of innocuous dance music that is repeatedly interrupted by eye-witness news flashes from this New Jersey farm where a strange meteor has landed. From there Welles and company use a variety of voices (newsmen, astronomers, farmers, crowds, military men, etc.) and sound effects to create the illusion that the attack of the Martians, complete with heat rays, giant mobile tripods, and poison gas, is happening in real time as we listen to the radio.
After an ???intermission,??? the second part of the dramatization changes from the ersatz radio broadcast to the first person narration by Welles of his professor character???s journal, depicting his attempts to survive and make sense of the invasion. Welles ???out of character??? closes the program by saying that the Mercury Theater was just shouting ???boo!??? at listeners on Halloween Eve and that ???we didn???t mean it.???
Fans of science fiction, of Wells??? novel, of vintage radio theater, and of American culture generally should listen to this program; despite (or due to) its savory slightly static-y quality, it???s well worth the $5.95 ($3.95 for members) price of admission.