I had a 2 record set of this.

When I first read about the panic that Orson Welles caused, I couldn't believe it. But listening to this, I changed my mind.

In the rather early days of media--and it was well-produced, too--people were more believing of things heard. (Though given what so many believe today, I'm not sure I can limit my observation to the past.)

But this is the American Paranoia: there are these monsters from outside that want to come here and destroy what we have.

It would be UnAmerican for them not to.

On October 30, 1938, CBS radio broadcasted a radio play loosely based on H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds. The setting of the story was changed to the East Coast of the United States, New York City and the surrounding area to be precise.

The broadcast was announced as a presentation of Mercury Theatre on the Air, and it began with a monologue by Orson Welles. Right after the monologue, the program cut to a set by Ramon Raquello and his jazz orchestra, playing in the Meridian Room at the Park Plaza Hotel in New York.

The radio announcer periodically interrupted the program with news on several very hot explosions on the surface of Mars. Eventually, an interview with a professor at the Princeton observatory was arranged, and the listeners at the time were treated to his dispassionate dismissal of reporter Carl Phillips' notions of life or canals on Mars.

Professor Pierson and Phillips then learned of a meteorite that had fallen in Grover's Mill, New Jersey. When they investigate, they find that the oddly-shaped meteorite is making strange noises and opening up to reveal the Martians inside.

The broadcast was continued for about a half hour before an interruption and station ID.

At the end, Welles jumped out of character and explained that the play was CBS's idea of "dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a bush and saying 'Boo!'". His final words: "That grinning, glowing, globular invader of your living room is an inhabitant of the pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and nobody's there, that was no Martian. . .it's Hallowe'en."

There was quite a bit of mass panic at the beginning of the broadcast. So much, in fact, that some say it was a psychological warfare experiment1.

Incidentally, bits of this teleplay were used in the film Spaced Invaders. The play was rebroadcast on Halloween, and the Martians picked it up and thought it was evidence of the successful attack on Earth.


War of the Worlds was an old vector arcade game released by Cinematronics way back in 1983. This game was meant to be a 3-D vector version of Space Invaders. Fewer than ten of these were made. It was supposedly coded for a color X-Y monitor, but it appears that they all shipped with a black and white X-Y monitor instead. Games simply don't get much more uncommon than this. There do not seem to be any factory units left for this game at all. But one collector found an unused conversion kit for this game in a warehouse a few years back. It is the color version, but so far it appears that he has not installed it in a cabinet yet.

The reason this game never went into wide production was twofold. The first reason was that it was simply too easy. Games that are too easy don't make a lot of money. The second reason was that the hardware simply wasn't good enough to run the game, it lagged a bit from time to time, and arcade games are not supposed to lag. Some newer ones do from time to time, but lag in early 80s games was almost unheard of. It is really too bad that they never quite got this one together. This is by far the best of the "rare" vector games.

The game

This is one great looking game. You control a little tank that can move back and forth at the bottom of the screen, your enemies are martian walkers that advance on your position with some of the smoothest movement I have ever seen outside of a modern polygon game. I could go on about the martians forever, but just try it out yourself in MAME, they really are just about the coolest early 80s enemy ever.

Each martian takes several hits to destroy, as you are actually blasting their legs out from under them. You can protect yourself from their shots by using your shield button, but use it sparingly, as you only have a limited amount of shield time.

This game is fun in the same way that Space Invaders is fun. Simple alien blasting that anyone can understand. The gameplay might have been a bit primitive for 1983, but it looked so awesome that it didn't really matter.

The Machine

It is hard to say what a War of the Worlds machine really is. There is a black and white picture of one from an old advertisement that shows it in the same cabinet as Armor Attack, along with sideart showing a martian walker. But that simply does not seem to exist anymore, so instead I will talk about the conversion kit that does exist.

The War of the Worlds conversion kit came with a red and yellow marquee that had a fairly simple game logo on it. The monitor bezel showed the curved surface of an orange planet, along with some generic outer space stuff. The control panel has graphics showing a ruined city, and the legs of several giant martian walkers. The controls are all pushbuttons, no joysticks or anything like that at all. The game came with a plastic monitor overlay meant to give color to the black and white monitor, it made the upper and lower areas red, while the center area was yellow (it also had a hand drawn city scene way in the background).

The existing kit was meant to retrofit a black and white Armor Attack machine, which was why it came with a monitor overlay, even though the game was capable of generating color all by itself.

Where to play

You have two options when it comes to playing this game. You can load it up under MAME, or you can go over to Tom McClintock's house and beg him to put his kit together and let you play it. The choice is yours!


by H. G. Wells

The War of the Worlds has not only been made as a book, as many people think. Hallows Even, or Halloween, 30th of October 1938, the most memorable radio play ever aired was transmitted by the radio station CBS and was, like the book, titled The War of the Worlds. A large part of the American east coast was during and a while after the airing in a state of utter panic. The show was constructed as a report from "the theatre of war", and the only time it was said it was a dramatisation and not real was at the very beginning of the show. People were running bewildered in the street, some said they had seen the sun reflected from the giant tri-pods, other that they had seen the green trails from the falling cylinders, orhets yet that they had felt the heat from the martian heat-ray. The unlucky affair was of course not planned, and Wells himself saw it as a personal insult and the company behind the production was forced to stand forward and make a public appology.

In 1978, Jeff Wayne made a musical based on the book, in which the narrator was Richard Burton, and it set a new standard on how a musical should be made. For example it inspired Danish state radio DR to the method for the alternative "history lessons" in their show "Kid's Radio", aired on Danish P3 between 15.03 and 16.00 on Mondays. The method is simple: A narrator reads the story, from time to time stopped by related musical scores. The musical simply starts with a man, reading a shortened version of the first page of the novel:

No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that human affairs were being watched from the timess worlds of space. No one could have dreamed that we were being scrutinised, as someone with a microscope studies the creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. Few men even considered the posibility of life on other planets, and yet, across the gulf of space, minds immeasurably supperior to ours regarded this Earth with envious eyes. And slowly, and surely, they drew their plans against us.

After this quote the music starts playing, after which it is only lowered, not turned off, to let the narrator continue. The text for the songs in the musical are, as it is the norm in musicals, a part of the story, but this is more a narrator's story with background music, so that it is only small bits of the text that is sung. Thus the only text actually sung in the whole first chapter ("The Eve of the War", also used as the main theme) is the text The chances of anything coming from Mars / Are a million to one, he said / The chances of anything coming from Mars / Are a milion to one / But still, they come.

The movie Mars Attacks, from the late 1990s, is a modern, more updated and humorised version of The War of the Worlds. In this movie martians don't land on Earth in cylinders fired from canons on Mars' surface, but in flying saucers, made popular through he many b-movies from the 1950s, and their heat-ray has been replaced with a ray-gun which simply dissolves everything. The opening scene in the movie is very impressive. It is not an impressive battle or lots of special effects, only very effective. You simpy see a family standing outside their house, when suddenly a large herd of cows stampede past them. That isn't the scary part, that is that the cows are on fire.

I have attempted to find out of The War of the Worlds was ever filmed under this name, and in Study Guide for H. G. Wells: The War of the Worlds found one section which mentions a movie from 1953 called "War of the Worlds", which it seems it very close to the novel, though with a few changes to make it more audience-friendly... In the 1953 movie War of the Worlds, thenarrator was made a single man and the curate replaced with an attractive young woman.



The main character is an un-named man, mostly working as the novel's narrator. He is a personal friend of the astronomer Ogilvy, whom we will get to a little later, and is thus one of the first to, the 12th of August, see the flourecent gas-excretions which Mars exhibits for the next ten nights. Both him and Ogilvy find them a beautiful, but somehow disturbing sight. This is not, however, a detective novel where the narrator is also the main character ("Name's Jack Whiskey, privat eye. Whiskey isn't just a name, it's my favorite passtime..."), and thus you don't actually know the man himself all that well, though you know that he has a wife and a respectable house, as well as belong to, if not the higher class, then at least the higher middle class. This does, however, make sense, as it is not him the story is about, but what happens around him during the Martian's attempt at an invasion.

The Narrator's Brother

At a point in the story, the narrator stops telling about himself, to start telling about his brother, who at the time is in London and thus can report on what happens there. The brother can see how people in London are either completely ignoring what happens, or simply do not believe the reports in the news papers. He attempts to go to Woking, where his brother lives, but can not go as all trafic in that direction has of course been cut off. The first while no-one knows what is going one, but as the telegraph is shortly opened again, before they are again cut off they recieve a report from there on the happenings. Still, though, people are not terrified as one might expect. While they may feel sorry for the poor souls on the battle-field, they don't worry further about it as it is of course so far away...


The narrator has made a good friend of an astronomer named Ogilvy. The two are, as mentioned above, amongst the first to witness the gas-excretions, or more precicely gas-explotions, but Ogilvy puts them aside as natural fenomena as the narrator tells him of his worries about them looking like the flame from a fired gun, with the words The chances of anything man-like on Mars are a million to one. You can say that he is right. According to the description in the book, the martians have a much larger similarity to amoeba than to humans. But to mistake this for intelligence was where he went wrong. That said, it puts across a point, in Victorian times well accepted, that only humans can have intelligence, and that everybody else only have instincts. Darwin's theories about how humans came to be, "The Descent of Man", was published in H. G. Wells' time (1871, when Wells was 5 years old), and his attack on the idea that man was the ultimate being, just after God, and thus protector and owner of the planet, not to say the world, was sorely mis-interpreted and used as arguments for Eugenics, or race-hygiene which at the time was an established science.

People in general

Apart from a few very disturbed people whom the Narrator meets (such as a chaplain, who ends up giving himself to what he believes is God's messengers), most people had the same reaction to the Martian invasion as Brits do to most things: Oh my, how interesting. Another cup of tea? When the same was attempted in the USA, not only the news papers, but the radio brought the information. I am here thinking of the radio play mentioned above. Of course, we should mention that at the time, no-one knew anything about this type of thing. They did not have the wide ranging heritage that we have now, where seeminly every day there is a new type of invasion or such to take care of for one space hero or other.

Geographical Correctness

Wells have before writing The War of the Worlds put some serious research into where and how, and also shows his adeptness in the art of describing things like they are, but without going into such detail as it might as well be a text book for geography lessons. There is only one way to do this in a way that is believable: Use existing locations in your story. Which he did.

The War Loving Man

There are a few very intersting observations to be made on war and it's brethren in The War of the Worlds. The most important, and disturbing is that the novel was written in 1898; More than 10 years before World War I, and more than 40 years before World War II. Why is this important? It is really rather simple. If it had been written after World War II, it might easily have been attributed to the conflict between the Nazis and the rest of us. While this is not the case, what then did inspire him to this inferno of death and destruction, worthy of Godzilla? According to himself, the idea comes from his brother Frank Wells (according to Arthur C. Clarke in the introduction to the Annotated The War of the Worlds):

A practical philosopher with a disbelief even profounder than that of the writer in the present ability of our race to meet a great crisis either bravely or intelligently... Our present civilisation, it seems, is quite capable of falling to pieces without any aid from the Martians


The biggest wars up through history have been fought on the basis of religion, and even if this is not the case in The War of the Worlds it is still a big part of the story. There is also a large selection of quotes from the Bible in The War of the Worlds, and the following is a list of the places in the Bible, with the location written after them. The list is taken from Stody Guide to H. G. Wells: The War of the Worlds, but has been edited to fit the medium:

  • Chapter 1.9: Fishers of men - fighters of fish - Matthew 4:19

  • Chapter 1.11: Pillars of fire - Exodus 15:21-22

  • Chapter 1.13: A refence to Soddoma and Gommora - Genesis 18:20-28

  • Chapter 1.13: The smoke of her burning goeth up for ever and ever! - Revelations 14:11

  • Chapter 1.13: The chaplain's interpretation of the Martians' attack - Revelations 6:16-17

  • Chapter 2.4: The wine is blood - Isaiah 63:1-19

  • Chapter 2.8: A reference to Solomon - Judges 13:1 - 16:31

The Language

The English translation of the Bible, approved in 1671 by King James is, even with it's immense amount of mis-translations and deliberate changes, an enormous and important piece of work, probably the literary work with the most influence on written English as a whole. At the time it was the biggest work released in English, and many of the linguistic terms used in it had never been used before. In this way the King James Bible can be likened to H. G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds, as in they both had to create a lingo for the story they were telling. Before The War of the Worlds was published, things like ray-weapons had never been described before, and thus Wells was forced to describe them in such detail as he did. Many of the things in the novel had already been described by other, for example telescopes were, even though they were not every man's, not wholly unknown.


All in all H. G. Wells has produced a piece which will stand out as one of the greatest ever works of Science Fiction. It is of course not the only one of its kind, but it was probably the first to work with this particular subject. In the time before the publishing of The War of the Worlds, Germany had begun stockpiling weapons, and a couple of years before it's being published, novels and novellas on the subject of war in Europe had begun surfacing. This may in reality simply another one of those, seen as it is about war in Europe, though not about war between European nations, but between Earth and [Mars. But still, a book which is definately worth reading.

All societies, through-out history have always been cruel. And all will be someday, but it all depends on the perspective of the time looking at the society to decide how. In H.G. Wells's, The War of the Worlds, he allegorizes British Colonialism by depicting a Martian invasion that parallels the cruelty found within a dominating society.

H. G. Wells is most renowned for his pioneering of the Science Fiction genre, however he was also a well known essayist, short story writer, historian, autobiographer and critic. Born in Bromley, England, Wells was a naturally creative and perceptive child. His inquisitive nature led him to the later development of his interest in the fiction world.

In his novel, The War of the Worlds, Wells depicts an apocalyptic vision of a world invaded by Martians. The book begins with an explanation as to why the aliens left their native planet, Mars, due to depletion of their natural resources. When a meteorite, later identified as a metallic cylinder, crash lands near London, the citizens of the area look on with amazement, hoping for a peaceful meeting. Instead they find themselves besieged with fatal Martian heat rays. The narrator flees from the scene to tell his family what he has seen. Up until this point it was believed that extra terrestrials would not be able to function on Earth, due to it's stronger gravitational pull.

Soon after the initial onslaught, the cylinder becomes dormant and life returns to normal. This is until a second cylinder arrives, not far from the first, and repeats the behavior of it's predecessor. The narrator hears gunshots and thunder which prompts him and his family to leave the area. They escape to a relative's house where he leaves his wife and returns to aid his neighbors and friends. He witnesses the landing of the third cylinder, and the first of the Martian tripods gathering around it. The narrator meets an artilleryman, and they decide to travel towards London, however have to alter their path due to the Martians blocking the way. At midday they see Martian tripods in a river, and one is destroyed by the army. After the fall of the tripod, the narrator and the artilleryman are separated, and the narrator escapes by boat, where he meets a curate.

The story then shortly switches over to the narrator's brother, who is in London. The fourth cylinder hits and word of a poison gas, sprayed by the Martians over all the villages, brings panic to London, and people begin evacuating. The next day, his brother leaves, and on the way out rescues two women and their cart. They board a paddle steamer and witness the destruction of two more Martian tripods by a torpedo-ram.

Returning to the narrator, the story bends back to the rescue of his wife. Unfortunately, he is trapped in a house with the curate, and witnesses not only the Martians and their machines, but their savage treatment of their human captives. They suck out their blood for nutrition, and he resolves to escape. However the curate loses his sense and begins yelling, which causes his death at the hands of the Martians who hear him. The narrator hides for days, until finally escaping. He reaches London to discover the Martians have finally been annihilated, not by a human device, but by natural bacteria.

Wells's depiction of the Martians as hideous creatures invokes a sense of horror and fear that he felt Colonialism inflicted upon it's victims.

Wells's Martians are more than just physically repulsive. He suggestedthat they have evolved beyond the capacity for emotions like love and pity. He portrayed them as cold, calculating and unfeeling (Nardo, 38).

Like the Martians, Wells believed that the British were unsympathetic to the natives of the land they were systematically colonizing. He saw the natives of these lands victimized in the most horrific ways. They were denied all rights and freedoms inherent to mankind, and the domination of British control was gaining strength daily.

No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinies the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water ... Across the void of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beats ... intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us (Wells, Book 1, 1).

This shows Wells view of the British as unsympathetic, however credits them with intelligence, and careful planning.

At the novel's conclusion, the Martians are destroyed by a simple bacteria, to which they have no natural immunity. This is a prophecy of how Wells sees Britain's demise as a world power. “The last chapter of the book is a reflection by the narrator on the effects on mankind of the Martian's invasion” (Werkmann, 2). Critics praised Wells for his modern thinking. In his novel he attacked the abuses of British Imperialism. By the end of the nineteenth century people began to criticize the British policy of expanding and maintaining a worldwide empire (Nardo, 39). Wells singled out the violent methods used by the British settlers in Tasmania; they used superior weapons against the helpless natives. Wells compared the treatment of the human beings by the Martians to the slaughter of the Tasmanians by British settlers (Brians, 1). H.G. Wells's War of the Worlds examines the shortcomings of the society of the time through an allegory paralleling the British Imperialism to the horrors of an alien invasion. His progressive views of the world around him made this science fiction author globally renowned.

Works Cited:

Brians, Paul. “Study Guide for H. G. Wells: The War of the Worlds.” Study Guides for Various Works. 4 Mar. 2004. <http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~brians/science_fiction/warofworlds.html>

Nardo, Don. The Importance Of H.G. Wells. San Diego: Lucent, 1992.

Wells, H.G., The War of the Worlds; The Time Machine; and Selected Short Stories. New York: Platt & Munk, 1963.

Werkmann, Sven. “Summary; The War of the Worlds.” Krefelder Referate Homepage. 4 Mar. 2004. <http://www.krref.krefeld.schulen.net/referate/englisch/r0848t00.htm>

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.