Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio, SFFaudio essential
I wrote about it airing six year ago, but I’ve just now heard it.
Metropolis, an astoundingly great radio dramatization of a famous novel that was turned into a famous movie, is nuanced, deep, surprising, and totally, idea based.
I’m astounded, really and truly astounded and amazed too at the depth and power an hour long program is able to achieve.
The script has humor, skepticism, cynicism, hope, sex, romance, informative infodumps, and a city full of pathos.
The production, acting, pacing, and composite audio experience is completely awe inspiring.
What gets me most is that even though it is based on a 1926 novel by Thea von Harbou, this version of Metropolis is, arguably, even more relevant than either Brave New World (1931) or 1984 (1949).
Those two classics don’t feel wholly and completely modern – this production of Metropolis does. It’s modernity is ripe, it’s like an episode of Black Mirror, and it should be on your radar.
Still not sold? Then imagine a Science Fiction version of Fight Club but set in the world of The Space Merchants or Judge Dredd and imagine it written by either Philip K. Dick or Frederik Pohl.
An audacious portrayal of a futuristic city as much as a state of mind, and an iconic film to boot, Metropolis (Radio 4, Friday) doesn’t exactly scream radio adaptation. But writer Peter Straughan and director Toby Swift, who won the Prix Italia in 2004 for their adaptation of Fritz Lang’s M, clearly aren’t put off by such hurdles. Their Metropolis was all deliciously claustrophobic intensity and dark interiority; their mega-city full of bubbling, menacing sounds you soon wanted to shut out. Without the famous visuals, you never really got a sense of the scale of Lang’s vision – you didn’t believe in the 62 million workers in Metropolis – but you did get the chilling psychological dimension of the dystopia. Edward Hogg, as Freddy, though sounding like a young Woody Allen at times, convinced as the alienated, lonely outsider who manages to subvert the mega-state from within. There were laughs, too, at least early on. “When was the last time you slept?” a therapist asks a suicidal Freddy. “About eight years ago,” says Freddy. “No,” the therapist concludes, “I don’t think that’s significant.”
Peter Straughan, the adaptor, and Toby Swift, the director, have achieved a classic for our time and for the ages – this is highly, highly recommended!
Thea von Harbou’s Metropolis
Adapted by Peter Straughan; Performed by a full cast
MP3 via TORRENT – 57 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4 (Friday Drama)
Broadcast: March 24, 2006
Available via RadioArchive.cc
Freder, the protagonist of Metropolis is an underworked “captain” in a high level position in the futuristic consumer society of the mega city named Metropolis. Feeling suicidal, but unable to understand why, Fredor switches identities with a low level “product insertion” – a kind of telemarketing – but failing at that Fredor soon finds himself working for Maria, an imperfect beauty with all the answers. Maria plunges Fredor into the depths of her underground conspiracy to disrupt the workings of society.
Directed by Toby Swift
Freder – Edward Hogg
Maria – Tracy Wiles
Josaphat – Damian Lynch
Schmale – Peter Marinker
Posted by Jesse Willis
[Use Omitron! Omitron, use it! Use Omitron, it's great!]
Last year somebody* pointed out that a list of “The Top 100 Sci-Fi Books” (as organized by the Sci-Fi Lists website) was almost entirely available in audiobook form!
At the time of his or her compiling 95 of the 100 books were available as audiobooks.
Today, it appears, that list is approaching 99% complete!
I’ve read a good number of the books and audiobooks listed, and while some of them are indeed excellent, I’d have to argue that some are merely ok, and that others are utterly atrocious.
That said, I do think it is interesting that almost all of them are available as audiobooks!
Here’s the list as it stood last year, plus my added notations on the status of the missing five:
01- Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card – 1985
02- Dune – Frank Herbert – 1965
03- Foundation – Isaac Asimov – 1951
04- Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams – 1979
05- 1984 – George Orwell – 1949
06- Stranger In A Strange Land – Robert A Heinlein – 1961
07- Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury – 1954
08- 2001: A Space Odyssey – Arthur C Clarke – 1968
09- Starship Troopers – Robert A Heinlein – 1959
10- I, Robot – Isaac Asimov – 1950
11- Neuromancer – William Gibson – 1984
12- Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick – 1968
13- Ringworld – Larry Niven – 1970
14- Rendezvous With Rama – Arthur C. Clarke – 1973
15- Hyperion – Dan Simmons – 1989
16- Brave New World – Aldous Huxley – 1932
17- The Time Machine – H.G. Wells – 1895
18- Childhood’s End – Arthur C. Clarke – 1954
19- The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress – Robert A. Heinlein – 1966
20- The War Of The Worlds – H.G. Wells – 1898
21- The Forever War – Joe Haldeman – 1974
22- The Martian Chronicles – Ray Bradbury – 1950
23- Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut – 1969
24- Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson – 1992
25- The Mote In God’s Eye – Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle – 1975
26- The Left Hand Of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin – 1969
27- Speaker For The Dead – Orson Scott Card – 1986
28- Jurassic Park – Michael Crichton – 1990
29- The Man in the High Castle – Philip K. Dick – 1962
30- The Caves Of Steel – Isaac Asimov – 1954
31- The Stars My Destination – Alfred Bester – 1956
32- Gateway – Frederik Pohl – 1977
33- Lord Of Light – Roger Zelazny – 1967
34- Solaris – Stanisław Lem – 1961
35- 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea – Jules Verne – 1870
36- A Wrinkle In Time – Madeleine L’Engle – 1962
37- Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut – 1963
38- Contact – Carl Sagan – 1985
39- The Andromeda Strain – Michael Crichton – 1969
40- The Gods Themselves – Isaac Asimov – 1972
41- A Fire Upon The Deep – Vernor Vinge – 1991
42- Cryptonomicon – Neal Stephenson – 1999
43- The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham – 1951
44- UBIK – Philip K. Dick – 1969
45- Time Enough For Love – Robert A. Heinlein – 1973
46- A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess – 1962
47- Red Mars – Kim Stanley Robinson – 1992
48- Flowers For Algernon – Daniel Keyes
49- A Canticle For Leibowitz – Walter M. Miller – 1959
50- The End of Eternity – Isaac Asimov – 1955
51- Battlefield Earth – L. Ron Hubbard – 1982
52- Frankenstein – Mary Shelley – 1818
53- Journey To The Center Of The Earth – Jules Verne – 1864
54- The Dispossessed – Ursula K. Le Guin – 1974
55- The Diamond Age – Neal Stephenson – 1995
56- The Player Of Games – Iain M. Banks – 1988
57- The Reality Dysfunction – Peter F. Hamilton – 1996
58- Startide Rising – David Brin – 1983
59- The Sirens Of Titan – Kurt Vonnegut – 1959
60- Eon – Greg Bear – 1985
61- Ender’s Shadow – Orson Scott Card – 1999
62- To Your Scattered Bodies Go – Philip Jose Farmer – 1971
63- A Scanner Darkly – Philip K. Dick – 1977
64- Lucifer’s Hammer – Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle – 1977
65- The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood – 1985
66- The City And The Stars – Arthur C Clark – 1956
67- The Stainless Steel Rat – Harry Harrison – 1961
68- The Demolished Man – Alfred Bester – 1953
69- The Shadow of the Torturer – Gene Wolfe – 1980
70- Sphere – Michael Crichton – 1987
71- The Door Into Summer – Robert .A Heinlein – 1957
72- The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch – Philip K. Dick – 1964
73- Revelation Space – Alastair Reynolds – 2000
74- Citizen Of The Galaxy – Robert A. Heinlein – 1957
75- Doomsday Book – Connie Willis – 1992
76- Ilium – Dan Simmons – 2003
77- The Invisible Man – H.G. Wells – 1897
78- Have Space-Suit Will Travel – Robert A. Heinlein – 1958
79- The Puppet Masters – Robert A. Heinlein – 1951
80- Out Of The Silent Planet – C.S. Lewis – 1938
81- A Princess of Mars – Edgar Rice Burroughs – 1912
82- The Lathe of Heaven – Ursula K. Le Guin – 1971
83- Use Of Weapons – Iain M. Banks – 1990
84- The Chrysalids – John Wyndham – 1955
85- Way Station – Clifford Simak – 1963
86- Flatland – Edwin A. Abbott – 1884
87- Altered Carbon – Richard Morgan – 2002
88- Old Man’s War – John Scalzi – 2005
89- COMING SOON (October 15, 2012) – Roadside Picnic – Arkady and Boris Strugatsky – 1972
90- The Road – Cormac McCarthy – 2006
91- The Postman – David Brin – 1985
92- NEWLY AVAILABLE – Stand On Zanzibar – John Brunner – 1969
93- VALIS – Philip K. Dick – 1981
94- NEWLY AVAILABLE The Cyberiad: Fables for the Cybernetic Age – Stanisław Lem – 1974
95- NOT AVAILABLE AS AN AUDIOBOOK – Cities In Flight – James Blish – 1955
96- The Lost World – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – 1912
97- The Many-Colored Land – Julian May – 1981
98- Gray Lensman – E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith – 1940
99- The Uplift War – David Brin – 1987
100- NEWLY AVAILABLE – The Forge Of God – Greg Bear – 1987
In case you were wondering, the list was compiled using the following criteria:
“A statistical survey of sci-fi literary awards, noted critics and popular polls. To qualify a book has to be generally regarded as science fiction by credible sources and/or recognised as having historical significance to the development of the genre. For books that are part of a series (with some notable exceptions) only the first book in the series is listed.”
The “Next 100″, as listed over on Sci-Fi Lists, has a lot of excellent novels and collections in it too, check that out HERE.
[*Thanks to "neil1966hardy" from ThePirateBay]
Posted by Jesse Willis
The CBS Radio Workshop was an experimental dramatic radio anthology series that aired on CBS radio from January 1956, until September 1957. Subtitled “radio’s distinguished series to man’s imagination,” it was a revival of the earlier Columbia Workshop, broadcast by CBS from 1936 to 1943, and it used some of the same writers and directors employed on the earlier series. Its first two episodes were a two-part adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s dystopian stunner Brave New World. It has some strong claims to being the definite adaptation as it is both introduced and narrated by Aldous Huxley himself. Here’s how Time magazine’s February 6, 1956 issue described it in their review:
“It took three radio sound men, a control-room engineer and five hours of hard work to create the sound that was heard for less than 30 seconds on the air. The sound consisted of a ticking metronome, tom-tom beats, bubbling water, air hose, cow moo, boing! (two types), oscillator, dripping water (two types) and three kinds of wine glasses clicking against each other. Judiciously blended and recorded on tape, the effect was still not quite right. Then the tape was played backward with a little echo added. That did it. The sound depicted the manufacturing of babies in the radio version of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.”
Music for the series was composed by Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith, Amerigo Moreno, Ray Noble and Leith Stevens. Other writers adapted to the series included Robert A. Heinlein, Sinclair Lewis, H.L. Mencken, Edgar Allan Poe, Frederik Pohl, James Thurber, Mark Twain and Thomas Wolfe. According to Bill Hollweg the two MP3 files have been “cleaned and the volume normalized” – and they do sound great!
Brave New World
Based on the novel by Aldous Huxley; Performed by a full cast
2 MP3 Files – Approx. 1 Hour [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcast: January 27 and February 3, 1956
Most interesting to me, however, is some of the commentary about this adaptation. On the back of the Pelican Records LP (LP-2013) edition there is critical essay on Huxley, Brave New World and this adaptation, by none other than Ray Bradbury! It is truly wonderful and I have reproduced it below:
There is science fiction and science fiction. There is science fiction still looked down upon by many intellectuals in our society, because it is written by the wrong people. And there is science fiction minus the label, written over in the main stream by acceptable A-1 main-line writers which is OK. And at the head of the list for some 40 years or more you would have to put Aldous Huxley and Brave New World. Whenever lists are drawn up for schools containing the acceptable authors who dare to be imaginative, it is Huxley and Orwell, ten to one.
Forget about Asimov, Clarke, Sturgeon, Heinlein, get lost.
There are a number of reasons beyond snobbishness of course. Huxley was in mid-career when he veered over into Future Country. Behind him lay half a dozen novels, most of which had good or fine reviews, and most of which are still selling moderately well and being read today. But mention Huxley and most people will name the one they know him by, Brave New World.
At the time it was published, much of the novel was fresh and innovative, properly cynical about human behavior and, at times, verging on territory laid out by Evelyn Waugh. Later on, Huxley and Waugh would indeed meet in the middle of the same cemetery. Huxley to dig graves and plant Hollywood types with his After Many A Summer Dies The Swan and Waugh with his The Loved One another shake of similar bones.
Since its publication, Brave New World has been skinned and boned and borrowed from by dozens of less competent writers who saw the serious fun Huxley had with his story and couldn’t resist imitating it.
As a satire today, reread when some of the things it talked about have moved straight on into our lives, the novel suffers as indeed it did back in 1932, from being a half-job. All the good stuff is up front in the book. Toward the end the fun and the imagination of Huxley diminish. Having the Indian hang himself seemed to me, even when I was younger, a bad solution to a good novel. Even Huxley, in 1952 when I first met him, expressed some doubt about his original ending.
But on his way to the finale, let’s face it, Huxley was the only referee we had for our impeding technological game. With foresight and precision he saw the Pill coming and ducked. He circled round cloning long before it became a tv Tale show mini-debate by mini-minds pretending to offer, as a result to most of us, mini-news. The drug culture of today noon occupied Huxley’s mind at breakfast 45 years back, long before he sprinkled mescaline on his Wheaties. While he was at it, old Aldous invented and reinvented the machined pornographies that have infiltrated our cinemas to slumber us better than Nembutal and bore us more than family picnics, well beyond 1984. And if we have not as yet birthed his ‘feelies’ into our world, we are on the thin dumb rim of doing so.
If there is a zero for failure to imagine at the center of the novel, and this radio play, it is the inability of Huxley (and Orwell, too later on) to in any way recognize or prophesy Space Travel. This may well be because of the time we lived in, then, when the Space Age seemed so remote, so impossible, that it could not be entered on any imaginary ledger to tip the scales toward an equally improbable better if not happy ending.
This was revealed in a lecture which I shared with Huxley onstage at UCLA some time in the early Sixties. Speaking first, he wondered again and again, what the next great development in literature might be.
I was stunned. In sat in my chair hardly daring to rise and deliver my speech, for suddenly my evening had changed. I had intended to make a few remarks about why I wrote what I wrote, but suddenly here was Huxley asking and not answering what was, to me, anyway, an obvious question with an obvious answer. What would the next great literature be?
Science Fiction! I wanted to shout. Good Grief and Jumping Jehoshaphat! Science Fiction!
Since every problem you can name in our time has to do with science and technology (name one that doesn’t) what else us there to write about except Pills, technological drugs, automobiles, smog, nuclear power, solar energy, space travel, tv, radio, transistors, free-ways, all, all of them scientific extensions of scientific dreams.
I rose and did not shout it. But I rose and said it, quietly, out of deference to my author hero.
Huxley shook my hand after the lecture and smiled at me with that dry quiet smile of his, and we spoke of Space Travel and how it might have changed Brave New World if he had thought to consider it in the full.
I still wish today that I might take his ghost to Cape Canaveral and whisk him to the top of the Vehicle Assembly Building where I have gone to stare down, with a wildly beating heart at the topmost part of the Apollo rockets lying ready below to give us alternative futures. We are not doomed to stay on Earth and share Huxley’s Indian suicide or Orwell’s Big Brother. When the time is ripe, we will just up and ‘go’.
All this said, when we return to the radio show, here captured to remind us once more that CBS, of all the radio networks, was the most open, the most adventurous, the most creative. Considering the year it was broadcast, 1956, long before Playboy made its real impact on our country, it is a fascinating work, of much imagination and good taste.
Let me step aside now, I have shouted my quiet shout. The next voice you’ll hear, a lovely gentleman’s voice, is that of Aldous Huxley. Would that he were alive today, for anther teatime chat and another long look into a sometimes dubious, sometimes exhilarating Future.
May 16, 1979
[Many thanks to Bill Hollweg and Rick]
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
Assam & Darjeeling by T.M. Camp, Podiobooks.com, iTunes, serialized fiction, entertaining copyright notices, where do you do your podcast listening?, I’ve got my hands full of car, the volume on Assam And Darjeeling is way too low!, remastering Assam And Darjeeling for audiobook, listening to podcasts at double speed (only on iTouch and iPhone), the premise of Assam And Darjeeling, Hades, the underworld, Inferno by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle |READ OUR REVIEW|, Escape From Hell by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle , The Divine Comedy: The Inferno by Dante Alighieri, Virgil’s The Aeneid, Ovid, the Brothers Grimm, witches, Greek Mythology, Edgar, no one can be as cruel as a kid, Joss Whedon, in the hands of a skillful author, Matters Of Mortology by T.M. Camp, Kij Johnson‘s The Fox Woman, the Black Gate blog, foxes in mythology, Aesop’s Fable The Fox And The Grapes, Cernunnos, Herne the Hunter, making the switch from comedy to horror and horror to comedy, the Shaggy Man (in the Oz series), Tom Bombadil, he has psychic powers too?, page 18, masterly dialogue put into the mouths of young children, the PDF version of Assam And Darjeeling, What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson, life after death, Inception, Edgar Alan Poe should go into the underworld to get his wife Virginia, The Memory Palace episode about Edgar Allan Poe’s death (Episode 20 strong>This Ungainly Fowl), This American Life is really bleak, WNYC’s Radiolab isn’t, general fiction is generally bleak, A Good Man Is Hard To Find by Flannery O’Connor, Science Fiction vs. general fiction, Social Science Fiction, Science Fiction has a second layer, it’s not all style, The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin, Staggerford by Jon Hassler, there are ways to tell powerful stories, A Man In Full by Tom Wolfe, Bangsian Fantasy, Fantasy, re-reading The Lord Of The Rings, the more I think about it the more I think I don’t like Fantasy, SFSite.com, derivative Fantasy, romance novels, Jane Austen, John Thorne, The Long Walk by Stephen King (Richard Bachman), The Stand, It, Salem’s Lot, The Shining, Under The Dome, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, long vs. short, The Cell by Stephen King, 28 Days Later, Desperation by Stephen King, The Rapture, if you were a character in this book who would you be?, the rule that makes any book better: talk about food, Lawrence Block, the economy of the afterworld, lampshading, I’m done with sequels, Mike Resnick’s Starship series, Jim Butcher’s Dresden series, The Fall Of Hyperion by Dan Simmons, Make Room, Make Room by Harry Harrison, Soylent Green, Adventures by Mike Resnick, mammoths vs. mastodons, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, The Star Beast by Robert A. Heinlein, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Posted by Jesse Willis
BBC Radio 4′s In Our Time radio show is always thoughtful and informative – a recent show on the topic of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is no exception…
“Melvyn Bragg is joined by David Bradshaw, Michele Barrett and Daniel Pick to discuss the anxieties and ambitions in Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel Brave New World“
Bragg, the host, and his guests approach Brave New World from a very biographical/historical perspective – finding the roots for Huxley’s dystopia/utopia in his engagement with the legacy of H.G. Wells, eugenics, Social Darwinism, and his impressions of the United States (particularly New Mexico and California). All Alphas should have a listen |REALAUDIO|.
[via Anne Is A Man]
Posted by Jesse Willis
Four on Seven…
The 7th Dimension
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Brave New World
Plus The Scarifyers #2!
The Fall of the House of Usher: Edgar Allan Poe‘s classic tale of gothic horror, a masterpiece of “dramatic irony and structural symbolism” (whew, okay…) and no doubt his most famous work. Suffice it to say that this is one creepy story that seems to exist in some dark phantasmal dream. What is the power that the House has over the Usher Family? Told in 2 parts beginning on Thursday, September 25. Read by Sean Barrett.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: Washington Irving‘s spooky tale of two rivals and an encounter with a ghastly horseman with…you guessed it…no head. Am I spoiling too much here? A traditional favorite and hey, just in time for Halloween. Oh, by the way, nothing wrong with the movie versions but the original’s a must read…or a must listen, as the case may be. Told in 3 parts beginning on Sunday, September 28. Read by Martin Jarvis.
Brave New World: Aldous Huxley‘s nightmare vision of a dystopian future. Often compared to Orwell’s 1984, critic Neil Postman contrasts the two: What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one…Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us. Heavy stuff. Told in 10 parts beginning on Monday, September 29. Read by Anton Lesser.
The Scarifyers series continues on BBC 7 with adventure #2, The Devil of Denge Marsh written by Paul Morris. When a government minister melts in Margate, it’s a job for Lionheart and Dunning. Terry Molloy (Dunning) described the series as being like Tin Tin and Dick Barton meet The X-Files. True to form, this one features an encounter with…no, it’s too horrible to tell! Presented in 3 parts beginning on Sunday, September 28. Produced by Cosmic Hobo. Full-cast audioplay. Stars Nicholas Courtney and Terry Molloy. – Trailer #1 – Trailer #2
Posted by RC of RTSF