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BookChums Theme: The 1938 Mars Attacks Story!

Post by: Snehith Kumbla


It was on a Sunday, October 30, 1938 to be precise that the Martians attacked earth. Only, the attacks were part of the radio play adaptation of HG Wells’ sci-fi novel The War of the Worlds. The play was directed /narrated by Orson Welles, yes the same director who went to make Citizen Kane (1941), considered by many critics to be the best movie ever made.


Many listeners who tuned that to the evening broadcast missed the part that the narration was a play and panicked when a news reporter in the play read with stiff gloominess the news that hundreds had died of flame attacks by Martians in New England, United States. Also the narration had a ‘live’ relay of events with a radio correspondent describing the first view of the aliens and then been cut short by an ominous silence.


People panicked, made phone calls and enquiries to appease their doubts of an alien attack. It took some time to convince the general public that the broadcast was a fictional radio play. War was looming on Europe then, and the broadcast added to the general insecurity. Your local British Library, if it has not discarded the audio CD’s section, is certain to have a copy of the play that caused such havoc, 75 years ago.   


Add Your Comment:

Steven Lyle Jordan
An interesting postThough most people swore that America could and would never be duped in that way again... in 1982 (or thereabouts), NBC television ran a special entitled, appropriately, "Special Report." It was a fictional series of "live broadcasts" about a terrorist group that had taken over a building in the Charleston, South Carolina naval base, and threatened to blow up a home-made nuclear device if their demands weren't met. A botched police raid caused them to set off the bomb, wrecking Charleston, forcing regionwide evacuations and making much of the region uninhabitable for future decades.

Despite the facts that the show ran disclaimers at the beginning and end of every commercial break... that the 3-day time period of the broadcasts was compressed to run in a 2-hour period... and that notable actors (including the star of one of NBC's biggest shows at the time, St. Elsewhere, and numerous well-known character actors) were present in prominent roles on the program... nationwide panic ensued, and switchboards were flooded with calls to family, friends and authorities in the Charleston area, convinced that they had been nuked.
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Mon,Apr 8th 2013 9:26 AM