War of the Worlds 2017 is a real-time transmedia project written and performed by Liam Philipson.
Through its long history in popular culture, The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells has been adapted numerous times. Some consider Orson Welles' 1938 Halloween radio adaptation to be the first effective transmedia narrative, and although its effect on a supposedly-panicked population is often exaggerated, there's no denying the impact the chillingly realistic rendering of Wells' classic tale had on its listeners.
When Wells wrote The War of the Worlds, he released it into a world obsessed with colonialism and eugenic policies, in which imperialistic conquest of a perceived "lesser" people was not only considered normal, but kind and necessary for the advancement of civilization. The novel, in its original context, is deeply political - a response to the imperialist mindset that placed a "civilized" and self-important Britain in the role of its terrified victims, helpless to fend off a power they did not have the resources to fight. The famous fate of Wells' Martians, who eventually succumb to Earth's bacteria, acts as a stark reminder to imperialist nations that, in their haste to conquer, they are doomed to be eaten alive by the very environments they underestimate.
Every adaptation of The War of the Worlds, with little exception, has been similarly political. Orson Welles' 1938 radio play is a realistically rendered news story about war, broadcast to a United States on the verge of entering World War II, catching frightful glimpses of the horrors new technology could create as similarly grim broadcasts poured out of a conflict-torn Europe. The 1953 film by George Pal plays into concerns about the Cold War, with atomic age themes and a broader, more globalist approach to the invasion that still emphasizes the traditional American values many feared were under fire. Steven Spielberg's 2005 film utilizes destruction imagery that immediately calls up the tragedy of 9/11, still fairly fresh in the minds of those watching, and tries to relate the characters' feelings in the wake of the aliens' attack to the conflicting emotions Americans experienced after witnessing the effects of a terrorist attack.
Right now, America is in a state of crisis some would consider inevitable, but which stands out in recent history. Not only America, but the world at large is facing a resurgence of regressive ideology, hatred, and cold-blooded brutality that many thought had been eradicated, or at least pushed into obscurity. War of the Worlds 2017 is about this threat; it is an examination of that division, uncertainty, and fear through the lens of the invasion Wells imagined back in 1896.
Like Wells' novel it is deeply political, but it is also a faithfully rendered version of the world Wells envisioned. Many adaptations of Wells' novel choose to override his imagery and concepts with the popular flavor of the time, for better or worse, while War of the Worlds 2017 chooses to embrace them. Wells' aliens, with their creeping bulk, writhing tentacles, and biomedical vampirism are updated, but their main features, functions, and aesthetics are preserved. This story takes the "don't fix what isn't broken" approach to adapting the novel.
War of the Worlds 2017 is an expansion and remake of Philipson's earlier, shorter work, War of the Worlds 2016, which can be read here. It covers a longer period of time and focuses on more characters, as well as renews and develops the characters of Carrie and Penny, who didn't get much of a chance to shine in the original week-long interpretation.
The invasion took place from November 8th to November 18th, 2017, and concluded on December 1st, 2017 with closing thoughts from the three main characters.