NARRATOR: DAVID TENNANT | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (VIA AUDIBLE)
Since first being serialised in 1897, by Pearson’s Magazine in the UK and Cosmopolitan in the US, The War of the Worlds has been realised in film, spawned a television series, generated comic book adaptations and, rather famously, been the source of radio dramas. And in 1978 came the hugely popular musical drama from Jeff Wayne. In brief, there have been no shortage of adaptations of H. G. Wells’ epic tale.
So it’s interesting that in 2019 we have three more. While we await a BBC version and a ‘reboot’ from Fox and Canal+, we can satisfy ourselves with an audio drama from Audible narrated by David Tennant. As part of a new collection of classic novels from ‘The Father of Science Fiction’, which also includes narrations from Jason Isaacs and Hugh Bonneville, Audible have created the perfect compromise for those wanting to absorb a little classic literature while struggling to find the time in busy schedules. But do we actually need it? Well, yes and no.
If you’ve ever listened to Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds you may well find this new version a little dry. As eloquent and intoxicating as Tennant’s delivery is, it’s very likely that while listening to it, the dramatic opening bars of Wayne’s masterpiece will unavoidably, subconsciously seep into your consciousness. As impressive and engaging as this new version is, and there is no doubt that it is, there may always be a slight sense of something missing.
If you’re looking for a way into H. G. Wells’ writing then these audio versions of his most notable works are an excellent way to do so. But that Wayne version will always cast a large, unmistakably tripod-like shadow.