1. Description of the original text and its socio-cultural and historical contexts:
When Orson Welles retold the science fiction classic War of the Worlds dramatically on public radio in 1938, it created an international sensation. The classic science fiction text, originally authored by H.G. Wells, told the captivating story about an alien invasion. It also perpetuated a nearly century’s-old myth: when people heard the broadcast, they were so shocked by the use of technology to tell the classic science fiction story, that they were certain it was real—that aliens were, in fact, invading earth.
While the myth has been debunked (people didn’t really believe aliens were invading earth, despite the success of the radio program), the narrative continues to intrigue scholars and cultural critics of literature, pop-culture and emerging technology and platforms. Why? Likely because it clearly illustrates how new technologies have the power to reinvent old narratives, provoking an entirely new sensorial reaction from audiences. And the myth did provoke real regulation, as the adaptation provoked outrage in media circles around the globe.
Using this classic example, I’d like to explore several other instances where science fiction and news media informed and pushed up against one another, and where they ultimately clashed. I’ll investigate several well-known news or science-fiction stories and analyze how they were inextricably linked or misinterpreted for the other.
From stories such as the Dylatov Pass incident wherein Russian college students went missing, sparking science-fiction adaptations; to the famous fictional Limetown podcast about an entire town that vanished; to the […]