A WORLD AHEAD: the Influence of Wells' novel through the years
HG Wells' novel The War of the Worlds in 1898 was a metaphor for imperialism, religious mania and Darwinism. December 31, 1899. Robert H Goddard was 16 when Wells' book was published. It inspired him to invent rockets: the Apollo moon landings were the culmination of research he began. Orson Welles recorded an infamous 1938 radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds, reading it as a series of news bulletins set in contemporary America. Many listeners believed a real alien invasion was in progress. Adolf Hitler would claim that the public panic the radio play had caused was "evidence of the decadence and corrupt condition of democracy". At least six 'faithful' movie adaptations have been made of the novel, including Steven Spielberg's 2005 version with Tom Cruise. Spielberg kept the screenplay secret from the actors, only emailing bits that were relevant on any given day. Spoof films such as Scary Movie 4 and Mars Attacks have had a field day with WotW. Jeff Wayne says that even Independence Day, "in its way, is a send-up of War of the Worlds".