CBS Radio Workshop: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World

April 12, 2011 by · 4 Comments
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CBS Radio WorkshopThe 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!

PELICAN - Brave New World - based on the novel by Aldous HuxleyBrave New World
Based on the novel by Aldous Huxley; Performed by a full cast
2 MP3 Files – Approx. 1 Hour [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBS
Broadcast: January 27 and February 3, 1956
Source: Archive.org

Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3|

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.

Ray Bradbury
Los Angeles
May 16, 1979

[Many thanks to Bill Hollweg and Rick]

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #072 – READALONG: Assam And Darjeeling by T.M. Camp

August 23, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #072 – Jesse and Scott talk with Julie Davis, of the Forgotten Classics podcast about Assam And Darjeeling by T.M. Camp |READ OUR REVIEW|.

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

In Our Time: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

April 20, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
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BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time with Melvyn BraggBBC 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

September 22, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
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Four on Seven

BBC Radio 7 - BBC7The 7th Dimension
Readings:
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 #1Trailer #2

Note that all BBC 7 programs are available to listen to online for six days via the Listen Again feature.

Posted by RC of RTSF

BBC Radio 3 talks Utopias

August 1, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
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BBC Radio 3The latest issue of the Radio Times offers a peek at next week – On BBC Radio 3 in The Essay timeslot will be a “3 part examination of utopian visions of the future……” entitled The Future’s Not What It Used To Be… quite a number of SF classics are quoted in the Radio Times article, so this should be a worthy listen. Here’s the official description:

“As a child of the 1950s, Richard Foster thought that by now he would be wearing a silver jumpsuit and spending endless hours of leisure zooming around on a personal jet-propelled backpack – all in a world where poverty, sickness and religion had been banished by technology. So what went wrong?”

Part 1 – Broken Dreams
Broadcast: Mon. 4th August 23:00-23:15
Richard investigates two contrasting utopian worlds in novels from the 1880s: caring capitalism in Looking Backward by American author Edward Bellamy and communitarian socialism in William Morris’ News from Nowhere.

Part 2 – Trust Me, I’m A Scientist
Broadcast: Wed. 6th August 23:00-23:15
Richard looks at how, in the 1930s, when capitalism and communism appeared unable to deliver utopia, H.G. Wells in The Shape of Things to Come and Aldous Huxley in Brave New World asked the next big question: can science mend our broken dreams, or will they just become nightmares?

Part 3 – Be Afraid, be very Afraid
Broadcast: Thu. 7th August 23:00-23:15
Richard investigates the threat of nuclear and environmental holocaust, explored in novels such as Neville Shute’s On the Beach and John Christopher’s The Death of Grass. Is the appetite for apocalypse – religious or scientific – now fed by ecological concern and terrorism? Must we always live in fear, or is it a potent political tool?

[Thanks Roy!]

Posted by Jesse Willis

BBC Radio 7 reruns Brave New World

June 8, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

Online Audio

BBC 7's The 7th DimensionThough BBC7 doesn’t offer a single podcast [GRRR!], the do have one endearment that we can appreciate… re-runs! BBC Radio 7’s the 7th Dimension is re-broadcasting the ten part abridgment of Brave New World. Aldous Huxley’s dystopian classic, first published in 1932, depicts an ominous,l but not wholly repulsive vision of future society. This abridged version has been previously broadcast on both BBC7 and BBC4.

Brave New World by Aldous HuxleyBrave New World
By Aldous Huxley; Read by Anton Lesser
10 X 15 Minute Episodes – Approx. 2.5 Hours [ABRIDGED]
BROADCASTER: BBC7’s The 7th Dimension
BROADCAST: Monday to Friday at 6:45pm (repeats 12:45am) UK Time*
A nightmare vision of the future, where humans are battery farmed and cloning and consumerism is rife.

All ten parts will be made available via the Listen Again service shortly after they air.

Jesse Willis

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