Thursday, February 08, 2007

Best Pseudo-Hoax Ever

I'm obviously not old enough to have been around when Orson Welles gave his famous adaptation of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds as a news radio broadcast, but I still appreciate the boundaries that Welles was breaking in his mock news broadcast. I heard the original 1938 broadcast sometime while I was in college. I remember that one of the big three networks had tried to "update" the radio drama to our day and age by making it a mock news program. It was pretty bad.

After having seen the ludicrously fake television news show based on War of the Worlds I actually sat down and read the original book. For its time, I'm sure the novel was a great achievement, and it still should be regarded as a classic, but I found it to be a little less interesting than I'd hoped. Realizing how much of a classic it was, I also found out about the original radio broadcast so I found it on the internet somewhere, downloaded it, and gave it a listen. It was awesome.

With television you need special effects that would be nearly perfect to be anywhere close to convincing, but with radio the listener's imagination was still responsible for creating the images of the alien war machines marching on against the human race. Welles just needed to sound convincing for the entire broadcast to be real, which is what many people thought it was.

Now if you haven't had the chance to experience history by hearing Orson Welles' broadcast, you can! Because of the ever blossoming public domain audiobook realm (LibriVox for example), not only are there resources for finding free audiobook versions of your favorite classics, but pieces of history such as Welles' broadcast are being distributed to any who are willing to listen in amazement again to that prolific moment in radio history. Get it for yourself here and enjoy.

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