September 21, 2010

Still calling it, after all these years


H.G. Wells Today is the birthday of author, historian and “father of science fiction,” H.G. Wells. Born this day in Bromley, England in 1866. Wells’s many titles include: The Invisible Man, The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau and The War of The Worlds. In honor of his birthday, we put before you this fascinating 1938 audio clip of H.G. Wells being interviewed by Orson Welles.

The pairing was inspired by the fact that both men were, in a surprising coincidence, in San Antonio, Texas at the same time, and of course by Orson Welles’ famous radio performance of The War of the Worlds, about a Martian invasion of Earth, which had created a national panic when first aired two years earlier. In their conversation both Welles and Wells place the panic within the context of the war going on in Europe (while America was still sitting on the sidelines).

After some formalities, it turns into an utterly remarkable conversation that those used to today’s celebrity interviews will find shocking. For example, about half-way through, H.G. Wells very politely makes the following statement:

You aren’t quite serious in America yet. You haven’t got the war right up under your chins. And the consequence is you can still play with ideas of terror and conflict.

There’s more ….

Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.