Monday, June 18, 2007

OTR: Classic Science Fiction, pt. 2

Dimension X adapted Robert Bloch’s “Almost Human” for its May 13, 1950 performance. The story had been originally published in ’43, which showed that early on Bloch was good at creating deeply complex characters. His “Junior”, is a huge robot with no initial understanding of human emotions. The episode is especially creepy, ending in a fashion that implies rather than reveals what is about to happen. Brrr….

Ray Bradbury has two stories adapted for X-Minus One that demonstrate both Bradbury’s poetic side and his occasional dark sense of humor. “There Will Come Soft Rains” deals with want might continue when mankind’s creations go on after he is no longer around. “Zero Hour” is a morality tale for parents, at least for those who have more important things to do than pay attention to their children.

Wyllis Cooper, today is probably best known as the screenwriter of the classic Universal monster movie, Son of Frankenstein. Originally a reporter, Cooper wrote for radio and created the show “Lights Out” which is also represented in this collection. Here Cooper’s later program “Quiet Please” brings forth “Adam and the Darkest Day”, which tells of a possible future for this planet and the last man living. When the story is over you’ll find yourself wondering to whom Adam is speaking.

Known more for his fantasy and “sword & sorcery” work, L. Sprague de Camp has his take on time travel gone wrong in “A Gun for Dinosaur” another great show from X-Minus One. I believe that this story introduces his ‘Reggie Rivers’ character, but you might want to double-check me on that.

Gordon R. Dickson’s “Speak No More” about a pair of telepaths was brought to the air on “Exploring Tomorrow” hosted by long time SF editor & writer John W. Campbell. While the prestigious CBS Radio Workshop does a great job with Robert A. Heinlein’s “Green Hills of Earth”, with Everett Sloane in the role of Rhysling.

Finally, for now, we have one of my favorite SF writers, Philip K. Dick popping up with the very eerie “Colony”, that works quite well in this X-Minus One adaptation. When apparently inanimate objects become deadly, what is a good starship captain going to do? You don’t want to think too long and hard about the fate of the spaceship’s crew.

In the next part of these posts I’ll talk about Fritz Leiber’s “Pail of Air” and stories by Sheckley, Silverberg, Simak & Sturgeon.
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