H.G. Wells and Orson Wells Have a Radio Chat About War of the Worlds

If you’re American and a science fiction fan, a radio fan, or a cinephile, you probably know the story about Orson Welles’s radio production of HG Wells’s The War of the Worlds.

But did you know that the two of them got on the radio together to talk about it?

For those not in the know, the 1938 Orson Welles-led radio production of The War of the Worldsdespite several announcements as to the fictional nature of the project while it was on the air—seemed so realistic to the general public that some Americans listening to it went into a panic, thinking that the world was actually being invaded by aliens. To this day, it remains as fascinating case study of media consumption.

But what did author HG Wells think of how his story had been handled? Turns out, he was a big fan. In 1940, both he and Welles got the chance to gab about the incident on the radio together. Wells even goes to the trouble of bringing up Orson Welles’s new film coming up, just some small project that you might have heard tell of—Citizen Kane? He also teases Welles about changing the spelling of his last name so they finally match.

It’s a real treat to hear the two go back and forth, and incredible that this segment has survived for us to access it today.


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