Five Free Favourites #5

SFFaudio Online Audio

Hi! I’m Rich, a videogame maker, musician and composer. I’ve done audio work of one kind or another for more years than I care to count (I’m actually over 400 years old -it’s a rare condition). In 2001, I co-founded Digital Eel, an indie game development group (Seattle, WA area). These days, I do design and create sfx and strange music for our games. My interest in audio drama (radio-tinged) began in the 60’s listening to Lights Out and Inner Sanctum on scratchy LP’s, but I primarily blame the Firesign Theatre and Douglas Adams for my abiding appreciation of the medium. Okay, anyhow, I picked out five SF and horror favorites from radio’s glory days for your audio perusal.  In other words, unlike things smaller than your elbow, they are safe to stick in your ears. Mostly. Enjoy!

Five Free Favourites

Oh, be sure to check out my website, Radio Tales Of The Strange & Fantastic, for more radio drama goodness…

X Minus 1X Minus One: Mars is Heaven
Story by Ray Bradbury; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 28 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: NBC Radio
Broadcast: May 8, 1955
“Mars is Heaven!”, a short story by Ray Bradbury, was first published in 1948 but remains one of the most popular science fiction stories to this day. Many will recall it from the Martian Chronicles set released two years later; a classic Bradbury collection that has never gone out of print. What will the first men on Mars find when they land there? An unwelcome alien environment? A dead lifeless place or…a place of the dead? If you like The Twilight Zone, you’ll dig this story, and the X Minus One version is one of the best.

CBS Radio’s SUSPENSESuspense: Donovan’s Brain
By Curt Siodmak; Performed by a full cast
Broadcaster: CBS Radio
Broadcast: May 19 & 25, 1944
Part 1 |MP3|, Part 2 |MP3|
Donovan’s Brain, the classic “brain kept alive in a jar” tale, was first published in 1942 as a novel by Curt Siodmak (whose story and screenplay for Universal’s classic monster movie, The Wolf Man, scarifyed moviegoing audiences a year before). Today, the 1953 film version is more well known but Suspense nailed it on CBS radio nine years earlier with an unforgettable one hour version directed by, and starring (not surprisingly), the formidable Orson Welles. Is it good, you ask? Does it deliver…suspense? Sure, sure, sure…

Dimension XDimension X: The Roads Must Roll
By Robert A. Heinlein; Performed by
Broadcaster: NBC Radio
Broadcast: September 1, 1950
In the future depicted in The Roads Must Roll, the 1940 Nebula award-winning short story by Robert A. Heinlein, automobile, truck and train traffic had become impossibly congested and unmanageable, so the engineers have taken over and have converted roads and highways into rolling roads -similar to conveyor belts but on a massive scale- that move people and goods from place to place at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. Hang on to your potatoes! Problem is, the technicians who keep the roads rolling are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their status. They believe that because rolling roads are of prime importance to the nation’s infrastructure, they should be rewarded more highly than other workers. And when such issues of technological change, politics, unions and class come together, serious conflict is bound to occur…

Mystery In The AirMystery In The Air: The Horla
By Guy de Maupassant; Performed by a full cast
Broadcaster: NBC Radio
Broadcast: August 21, 1947
The Horla, written in 1887 by Guy de Maupassant, is an unusual horror tale about an invisible alien entity that seeks to inhabit and control human beings. It was cited by Lovecraft as being the inspiration for his classic story, The Call of Cthulhu, and as an important forerunner to the weird
horror genre pioneered by himself, August Derleth, Clark Ashton Smith, and others, in the early-mid 20th century. This version, from Mystery in the Air (oddly, a summer replacement for the Abbott and Costello Show), benefits from a brisk script and a wonderful live performance by Peter Lorre as your weekly raging psychopath.

EscapeEscape: Three Skeleton Key
Story by George Toudouze; Performed by a full cast
Broadcaster: CBS Radio
Broadcast: March 17, 1950

“Three Skeleton Key, the small rock on which the (lighthouse) stood, bore a bad reputation. It earned its name from the story of the three convicts who, escaping from Cayenne in a stolen dugout canoe, were wrecked on the rock during the night, managed to escape the sea but eventually died of hunger and thirst. When they were discovered, nothing remained but three heaps of bones, picked clean by birds. The story was that the three skeletons, gleaming with phosphorescent light, danced over the small rock, screaming…”
– from Three Skeleton Key by George Toudouze, Esquire magazine, January 1937

Creepy stuff to be sure, so what happens on they key? Terrifying events which I won’t spoil except to say that if you are afraid of a certain creature, as Indiana Jones dislikes snakes, you may find this story unsettling. But don’t fret. Vincent Price is there to hold your hand….until they come. Escape presented Three Skeleton Key many times due to audience requests. Price played the lead role at least twice. This version is generally considered to be his best performance of this play.

Posted by RC of Radio Tales of the Strange and Fantastic

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