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The Vanguard of an Invading Army from the Planet Mars

H.G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds has been continually in print since it was first published in 1898 -- as such it may be the most-read work of science fiction in history. It's also one of the most adapted, with scores of TV shows, radio adaptations, films and rock operas, even comics and graphic novels. I wouldn't be surprised if someone out there has created an interpretive dance based on the book.


I have my own personal cultural historical experience of The War of the Worlds. I first read the book when I was 12 -- my grandfather gave me his hardback edition which was published in1924. Not only was I reading an other-worldly tale set in a historical era but the book itself seemed like an ancient artifact from a distant age. Unlike most old things though, this book was not at all boring -- in fact, it was incredibly exciting!


I've already mentioned how the Orson Welles Mercury Theater on the Air radio version was one of the most inspiring creative experiences of my life. I was stunned and smitten by what the Mercury Theater was doing and I had to get into that game some how, some way. Later in the 2000s, we took in a re-enactment of the Panic Broadcast along with a musical of Bernard Hermann soundtracks (he was Welles' music director for MTOTA) - another fantastic experience that made me happy to have lived that long!


In 1998 I was a guest on the CBC radio programme Morningside where I got to talk to Peter Gzowski about The War of the Worlds radio programme. It was both fun and terrifying to be interviewed by Mr. Canada and the one time in my life when I think I impressed everyone in my family.


They've been running the latest version on television for the past few weeks and while it's a very loose interpretation I've been really enjoying it so far. You can stream it atgem.cbc.ca if you're interested.


An incredible amount has been said about The War of the Worlds and its many manifestations and I'd rather not add to all that commentary right now. Instead, I'd just like to suggest that taking in one or more versions of this truly classic story of alien invasion is a great way to add to your Halloween experience. And if you can't decide which adaptation to take in, why not read the book?


Great first read! Fantastic re-read!




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