“Suddenly, like a thing falling upon me from without, came fear.” The War of the Worlds
Digging through my CD collection (If you think that makes me old, wait until you see my vinyl horde), I came across Geoff Wayne’s “War of the Worlds”.
This musical take on H.G. Wells’ novel, first serialised in 1897, is an old and long neglected favourite, enjoyed much more than the Spielberg/Cruise film remake.
I have always been a sucker for the somewhat mawkish but beautiful track Forever Autumn (https://youtu.be/CO9Qx7Kp_I8) and listening to it, I had time to reflect on how Wells’ science fiction about the invasion of earth by a foreign organism reflected what we are experiencing today.
Reading Wells’ work there are some parts that seem ominously predictive of our current circumstance.
H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds
- “With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter….”
- “We can never anticipate the unseen good or evil that may come upon us suddenly out of space.”
- “At the time there was a strong feeling in the streets that the authorities were to blame for their incapacity to dispose of the invaders without all this inconvenience.”
The COVID-19 virus does not use lasers to kill humans but, as in the novel, an invading organism is currently cutting a swathe through cities like London, leaving people feeling helpless in the face of an entity against which they seemed to have little or no defence.
The panic-buying of toilet paper etc and the rash of conspiracy theories and misinformation that has circulated around the virus reminds me of the impact of a radio broadcast based on “War of the Worlds” made by Orson Welles in 1938.
Radio listeners across the U.S. heard a startling report of mysterious creatures and terrifying war machines moving toward New York City. It was a radio play, but many mistook it as a real news broadcast and it is reported to have set in motion widespread panic.
It is my hope that, as in the novel, science, nature and human endeavour will provide us with a response to the COVID-19 invader and we will be able to return to something resembling a normal existence.
Until the next time…………….