By T. Ray Gordon, Full Cast Production by Richard Sellers
1 CD – 78 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Apex Audio Theatre
Themes: / Science Fiction / Androids / Terraforming Mars /
The Automatics are androids, and trained fighting machines. When they fought for their own rights, they were, of course, declared non-personal non grata and the ones that could left Earth for other parts of the Solar System colonies. Strawberry Automatic is tall with flaming red hair, beautiful and deadly as they come. On Mars there is a company running the terraforming operation. Naturally someone wants to speed up the process using illegal nukes, and someone else wants to stop them.
I say “of course” and “naturally” because as I listened to this CD I had no trouble keeping slightly ahead of the story line. I kept thinking “This is a 1950s sci-fi story.” On his CD sales website, producer and narrator Richard Sellers says that T. Ray Gordon wrote 72 original manuscripts during the 1950s, which have never been published until now. So I was right. And as seems to be the cliché with pulp and radio writers, he was alcoholic and killed himself in 1961.
As a story Strawberry Automatic is a fairly good sci-fi adventure. As a script it relies too much on narration, some of which could have been written into dialogue or eliminated to keep the story moving faster. This might have made the script longer, though, and it appears they had decided to keep it to one CD. The production values are high, as the producer works as a voiceover artist and knows his trade. He also narrates the story. The acting is quite good, and it shows that Sellers knows his community of good performers. They just need someone to help them develop the script a bit before moving on.
The production values and the fact that it was not a story that had ever been produced before garnered it an Honorable Mention for the 10th Annual Mark Time Awards for Science Fiction Audio this year. Click here for more info.
The first of Gordon’s stories made for audio by Apex Audio Theatre, Inhumanity Quest, was also produced by Richard Sellers, and it shares many of the qualities mentioned here regarding the story, the production quality, and the performances.
I liked the production a little better the second time I heard it, as I could listen a bit more critically. It is well done. But I don’t know if I could listen to 72 of this kind of tale.