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Sci-Fi Radio 26 - Yanqui Doodle by James Tiptree (aka Alice Sheldon)

This details the program of rehabilitation one soldier experiences after being wounded at the front. I would have guessed this was written over a decade before it was but in fact it must have been among the final stories Tiptree wrote and I should have guessed from the fact that it is set in Central America rather than South East Asia (as would have been the case had it been written during the Viet Nam conflict or in the Middle East or Central Asia, as it might be if it were written now.


Matthew Cheney's The Stories That Predict Us
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Sci-Fi Radio 25 - The Twonky by Lewis Padgett

Lewis Padgett is a pen name for C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner.

This is an example of indirect first contact gone wrong and is in the same sub-genre as Kornbluth's 'The Little Black Bag'. You can generally be sure that dropping unfamiliar advanced technology into an unsuspecting person's hands is going to go wrong but not necessarily how. I do wonder if there is a benevolent purpose to a Twonky, because I am not seeing it.

I think details of the story were changed for the play. The technology is more advanced than one would expect in a 1940s era story and I don't recall anyone dying in the original.
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Sci-Fi Radio 23&24 - Home is the Hangman by Roger Zelazny

And this is based on the Hugo-winning novella by Roger Zelazny, in which a Detective with No Name (or one with many, which amounts to the same thing) in a supposedly fully monitored world is put on the trail of an artificial intelligence housed in a robust robotic body; the robot has returned from space after supposedly breaking down there and may be plotting to kill its creators.

I didn't catch the explanation for the name they gave the robot, which must serve as example of In the Future, PR is a Dead Art.
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Sci-Fi Radio 22 - Shape by Robert Sheckley

In which a group of shape-shifting aliens attempt to lay the groundwork for an invasion of Earth and to find out if possible what happened to the previous 19 missions.

The use of two suspected subversives suggests their talent pool is shallow and I did wonder how it was a race able to send a ship between the stars needed a native nuclear reactor power the displacer. I guess it is a form of ISRU.

I wonder how many variations of (spoiler)
Read more... )
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Sci-Fi Radio 20&21 - Houston, Houston, Do You Read by James Tiptree (aka Alice Sheldon)

This is based on the Hugo and Nebula-winning novella of the same name by James Tiptree, Jr. This is a first contact story of sorts, between men from a society of a form we would be familiar with and a branch of humanity that has not had contact with persons like those on the ship for longer than living memory. It goes about as well as one might expect given that it is a Tiptree story.

You know, there are people who complain that the actors with southern accents are often given the least admirable roles, except maybe for wise idiot, and this isn't much of a counter-example. Or a counter-example at all.
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Sci-Fi Radio 19 - Field of Vision by Ursula K. LeGuin

Three astronauts visiting Mars make the mistake of investigating a mysterious site there. The immediate consequence is that one dies on the spot, one is rendered effectively deaf and one is rendered effectively blind. Unfortunately for everyone on Earth, the two survivors somehow manage to get back to Earth and worse, the truth behind what happened to them is revealed.

This was more Lovecraftian (or perhaps Quatermassian) than I expect from Le Guin.

This was new to me but I see there is a movie based on it.

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Sci-Fi Radio 18 - Imposter by Philip K. Dick

This is a PKD story about a person who is accused of being an android impersonator planted to carry out a strategic suicide attack. I think Mindwebs did a version of this and if it wasn't them it was Exploring Tomorrow or X Minus One. I preferred the other version because this one has intrusive commentary on the protagonist's position and I don't think the other one did.

This version, on the other hand, seems to involve a much smaller explosion, which would explain why the double needed to get close to its target. If I had been the Outspacers, I would have gone for a dog double. Nobody ever expects the dog to be the ringer.
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Sci-Fi Radio 17 - Call Me Joe by Poul Anderson

This would be the tale of a crippled man who controls an alien body thanks to mind-link/possession that if it turned out to be in James Cameron's library would surprise me not a bit. That said, the original "Call Me Joe" is from 1957 and it bears a number of points of similarity with Simak's 1944 story "Desertion:; both involve exploring/exploiting Jupiter, both involve the use of alien bodies to do this and both have similar conclusions. With Anderson's, though, you get a large serving of how horrible it is to be a cripple, in the end a life not worth living at all.

There's also a detail I completely forget: the original plan is to settle a group of intelligent beings on Jupiter with the most rudimentary tools* to work away on the surface under a priesthood of remotely controlled pawns of the humans, for the benefit of the humans. Nobody ever questions whether creating a race to effectively enslave them may have a moral angle. Science Fiction: come for the pseudoscience, stay for the pathological politics.


* There's a bit at the end where Cornelius predicts Joe will call the station in Jupiter V as soon as he builds a radio. Joe's tools consist of his bare hands at that point. I think Cornelius is being optimistic.
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Sci-Fi Radio 16 - Grantha Sighting by Avram Davidson

This is a short amiable piece about a rural couple and the consequences to them of having made First Contact with aliens.

Mostly harmless. The radio announcer is, I think, based on Long John Nebel.
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Sci-Fi Radio 14&15 - Vintage Season by H Kuttner & C.L. Moore

This is about an unfortunate landlord who rents one of his properties to the Sanciscos, a very odd group of tourists, only to get an offer for the building on the condition he sell it the same week the Sanciscos have it booked for. Enough oddities pile up for him to try to figure out what is up. Unhappily for him, he finds out.

You know, I didn't remember the landlord's fiance being so unpleasant. Or that Kleph was so obviously whatever the pothead version of a manic pixy girl is.

A lot of sources credit this mainly or entirely to C.L. Moore and not to Henry Kuttner, her husband.
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Sci-Fi Radio 13 - Wall of Darkness by Arthur C. Clarke

There is an essential problem with a lot of Clarke stories as plays in that there isn't a lot of dialogue in them and as a play they might involve either long periods of silence or people describing what they are doing, as people do in radio plays. In this case they seem to have added a new character who the protagonist inexplicably allows to accompany him during his one-man (plus one) quest to unravel his world's greatest mystery.

This is one of Clarke's mood pieces. The mood listening to this piece left me in was irritation at how the reaction to a very interesting quirk of space-time was to do their best never to think of it again and at Shervane's self-centered decision to destroy access to the Wall once he had had his little walk. Jerk.

Given the reaction to the revelation, I had not trouble at all understanding why the scholars of this age could not match the achievements of the First Dynasty.
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Sci fi radio 11&12 - Sundance by Robert Silverberg

Sometime early on, when the narrator establishes protagonist Tom Two-Ribbons comes from a long line of alcoholic and addicted Native Americans, I was worried this story could go in unfortunate directions. I had no fucking idea.
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Sci-Fi Radio 10 - The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin

This seems faithful enough to the original but about ten minutes in I remembered nobody is paying me to do this and life is too short to waste on yet another encounter with this story if the encounter has no greater purpose.
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Sci-Fi Radio 08&09 - Frost and Fire by Ray Bradbury

Oh, this one. I can never remember the title of this but the story has stuck with me for decades. In it humans trapped on a planet live short, frustrating lives of just eight days thanks to the local conditions and Bradbury's dubious grasp of science. The means of salvation is in sight but beyond the distance any local can hope to travel safely.

The fight scenes in this are unconvincing. Also, if I didn't know this was from the late 1980s, I would guess from the voices, in particular those of the actresses, that this was from the 1950s.
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Sci-Fi Radio 07 - Diary of a Rose by Ursula K. LeGuin

The story of a woman who discovers the oppressive society in which she is a willing cog is oppressive. This belongs to a particular subgenre of dystopia involving prisons and medical facilities. It's generally bad to be a prisoner in one but sometimes worse to be staff.

Is it significant that the prisoner is male but all the people in positions of authority are female?
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Sci-Fi Radio 06 - Sales Pitch by Philip K. Dick

Dick is not the go-to guy for diamond hard SF and his depiction of space travel has one or two questionable details. A man being hounded to suicide by unrelenting ads? That seems quite possible.
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Sci-Fi Radio 05 - Ballad of Lost C'Mell by Cordwainer Smith

This wasn't much like I remembered it. One big reason is because I had it confused with "Alpha Ralpha Boulevard". Go me! But can someone more familiar with this story tell me if they've taken many liberties with it?

I've always pronounced C'Mell as K'Mell and now that I have heard it the other way, I am going to stick to my way.

One important thing I learn from relistening to old material I first read 30-odd years ago is that farm kids in Ontario circa 1975 miss a lot of subtext. I bet this would have read quite differently to me had I read it in an American context. There's a very Letter From a Birmingham Jail [1] feel to the bit where Lord Jestocost is negotiating with E'telekeli and asks in return for his support for the underpeople that E'telekeli keep his people quiet and docile for the moment. E'telekeli's response seemed ... potentially non-committal.

There cannot be all that many underpeople committing crimes if a panel of bluebloods can deal with them all. Or do they only handle the important cases?

1: Which post-dates the Smith, I know.
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Sci-Fi Radio 02&03 - Dark Benediction by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

This post-apocalyptic story first appeared in Fantastic Adventures, September 1951 and would have been among the first stories Miller, best known for Canticle for Liebowitz, ever sold. Or to put it another way, not Miller at the height of his craft.

You know, I have to question just how selfless it is when a host species decides the one aspect of it they have to save above all else is a parasite*. Is it as selfless as a fungus-infested ant crawling to the top of a blade of grass so a bird can eat it? And the way the protagonist suddenly

spoilers Read more... )
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I'm Scared by Jack Finney

In stark contrast to the previous episode, I could actually make out the words in this one. Be warned the story takes a while to get started.

This story first ran in Colliers 15 September 1951. I will assume the play is loyal to the text and that the protagonist really did think nostalgia is a new and very dangerous phenomenon, something able to threaten reality itself. I find myself skeptical that he could have attempted to verify that it was in any way new. I think he assumed it for the sake of his model.

Interestingly, part of the story took on a life of its own.
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Voices Lost in Calling

Sci-Fi Radio seems to have been a series of radio plays based on written SF NPR broadcast in 1989-90. Not sure who wrote this one. Also not sure what it is about, aside from a woman concerned about a series of interrupted phone calls. A combination of odd musical choices and muddled sound track defeated me.

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