Seeing Ear Theatre: The Moon Moth adapted from the novella by Jack Vance

SFFaudio Online Audio

Yesterday, a friend of mine was woefully mistaken. He said there was only one good audio drama and that it was The Hobbit (referring to the BBC radio dramatization). Well that is a pretty awesome audio drama but he is still totally and completely WRONG.

There are probably hundreds and hundreds of excellent audio dramas, but I was totally caught off guard – what’s that old french saying… ah yes…

“l’homme sensible, comme moi, tout entier à ce qu’on lui objecte, perd la tête et ne se retrouve qu’au bas de l’escalier”

Indeed, I only managed to throw out a couple of quick examples before my friend had retired for the evening.

I pointed out the BBC’s dramatization of The Lord Of The Rings and I a then suggested the CBS Radio Mystery Theater and it’s wonderful Alfred Bester story The Walking Dead).

My friend left unconvinced. And it is only now, today, that others spring readily to mind.

In l’esprit de l’escalier I will throw out one more – to him and to the world – and that will be George Zarr’s masterful adaptation of Jack Vance’s The Moon Moth.

It was one of the first audio dramas I reviewed for SFFaudio, back in 2003, and it is still one of the very finest audio dramas I’ve ever heard.

You could |READ OUR REVIEW|, but I think just hearing a few minutes of it will provide enough motivation to propel both you, and my friend, to both the end and a change of opinion.

SEEING EAR THEATRE - The Moon MothSFFaudio EssentialSeeing Ear Theatre – The Moon Moth
Based on the novella by Jack Vance; adapted by George Zarr; Performed by a Full Cast
2 MP3 Files – Approx. 73 Minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Seeing Ear Theater
Published: 2000?
On the planet Sirene everyone wears a mask according to his status — or strahk — in society. Communication is accomplished through singing accompanied by a plethora of instruments, each of which signifies a different emotional mood or is used to talk to a different social caste. The problem is, the assassin Angmark is a master of Sirenese customs and — like everyone else on Sirene — his face is hidden behind a mask. Our doddering ambassador-detective’s only hope: to learn to use his own mask — the lowly Moon Moth — before Angmark relieves him of a head to put it on. First published in Galaxy Science Fiction, August 1961.

Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3|

Produced and directed by George Zarr
Sound Design by John Colucci and David Shinn
Music Direction and Sirenese Musical Performance by Douglas Anderson

David Garrison as Edwer Thissell and Provisionist Greenward
Tuck Milligan as Haxo Angmark and Messenger Slave
Ian Reed as Esteban Rolver and Bright Sky Bird
Mort Banks as Cornelly Welibus and Maskmaker
Mark Victor Smith as Mathew Kershaul
Leah Applebaum as Computoid, Maiden, Female Slave, and Rex
George Zarr as Steward and Paul
Andrew Joffe as Forest Goblin, Benko, and Sand Tiger
Paul Amodeo as Hostler and Toby

Here are the illustrations, by Dick Francis, from the original publication in Galaxy SF:

The Moon Moth by Jack Vance - illustration by Dick Francis

The Moon Moth by Jack Vance - illustration by Dick Francis

The Moon Moth by Jack Vance - illustration by Dick Francis

And finally, we talked to George Zarr about The Moon Moth, and many other plays, back in SFFaudio Podcast #071. Check it out if you’d like to hear more about how awesome audio drama is.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Snow Bank by Jeffrey Adams

Science Fiction Audio Drama - Snow BankSnow Bank
By Jeffrey Adams, performed by Icebox Radio Theater
2 CDs – 115 minutes [UNABRIDGED 4 part serial]
Publisher: Icebox Radio Theater
Published: 2004
Themes: / Science Fiction / Alien / Mystery / Teen Drama

A body in a snowbank…
A town under siege
A family that must solve the mystery, or be torn apart!

If you had to do a high-concept pitch for Snow Bank you’d probably wind up saying “X-files meets the Bobbsey Twins.” Sean (Brock Krahnke) and his twin sister Bobbie (Anna Remus) discover a body under a snowbank next to their school. Despite warnings from their father, the local D.A., the twins set out to investigate the murder themselves. What follows dips into UFOs, alien scientists and twin psychic connections. They even manage to pull off a car chase in radio. That’s pretty impressive.

The story is all over than map and unfortunately wraps up in the final episode with a long expository scene which, maddeningly, says that the car chase was a hallucination–which both twins shared. There are logical inconsistencies in the story and unresolved questions which left me very frustrated. For instance, I can’t give you a spoiler on how the dead body got in the snow bank because they never explain it.

The acting in this is very strong with only one or two exceptions. What is most impressive about the production is that it was originally broadcast live. When I listened to the first episode I was troubled by some over-modulation on the microphones, but when I listened to the outro and realized that I had just heard a live performance, I was stunned. The performances are tight and the Foley is beautifully handled to create an aural picture of what is happening. Both Krahnke and Remus turn in really compelling performances. In particular, when Remus’s character, Bobbie, is sent to a juvenile detention center you can hear her character change posture from a cocky teenage girl, to an insecure and frightened one.

So, although the story almost felt like they were making it up as they went, the execution makes Snow Bank worth listening to.

Posted by Mary Robinette Kowal