The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells

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In science fiction “doom stories”, the threat of destruction can come from different sources: from alien invaders, from natural disasters, or from disasters caused by people. Which kind of doom...

In science fiction “doom stories”, the threat of destruction can come from different sources: from alien invaders, from natural disasters, or from disasters caused by people. Which kind of doom story might be most likely to frighten people today?

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When the Mercury Theatre group presented its production of H.G. Welles' War of the Worlds over the radio on the evening of October 30, 1938, the American public was particularly susceptible to mass panic disorder.  Developments in Europe -- the rise of Nazi Germany and its military actions against neighboring countries, and of Imperial Japan -- combined with fear of Communism emanating from Russia and the memories of the worst of the Great Depression still fresh, the stage was set for the massive misinterpretation of a radio broadcast purportedly reporting the invasion of the United States by an alien species.  

Given the right psychological atmosphere, usually stemming from major and traumatic international or domestic events, the public is susceptible to the kind of mass hysteria that resulted from the broadcast of War of the Worlds .  During the mid-1980s, when the Reagan Administration was conducting a psychological and actual war with the dictatorial regime of Muammar Qhaddafi in...

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