james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Grenville's Planet

A bored star explorer and his assistant explore the eponymous planet, the first terrestrial world to be found whose surface is entirely covered by water. As it turns out there are two small islands, complete with native animal life. On consideration the animals are hard to explain because once every century or so, exceptionally high tides raise the ocean levels well above the highest point of either island. As well, the islands should have been eroded away long ago. Their conclusion is some shadowy intelligence under the sea built the islands. Alas, First Contact does not go well.

Yeah, the explanation of why the manta-people built the island is odd. It's a preserve. Of what? Apparently a sense that natural worlds have animals living on land, I guess.

And that's it for SF 68. After this, it was replaced by Beyond Midnight (1968 - 1969), a supernatural anthology show also produced by Michael McCabe.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
The New Wine

Starfarers return to the Earth a century after leaving; thanks to time dilation the travellers have only aged a few years. Prior to leaving, one of them learned about a grand scheme to give all the children of the Earth telepathy and they worry that they will be returning to a society with no place for them. The reality is much, much worse.

Again, one of those stories where a small pilot project would have avoided so much misery.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
The Castaway

A starfarer, trapped on a savage planet, does its best through good works to win over the locals. This fails because the locals or at least the one who narrates this story is utterly convinced anything that thinks as well as he does but has a different form must die, lest the strangers dominate the area.

Well, at least the narrator is consistent in his views.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Watch Bird

Following the discovery that most people about to kill have distinctive brain patterns, the police launch a nation-wide (and possibly world-wide) program, trusting brainwave-detecting drones to tell potential killers from regular people; for added security no small scale pilot program was, the drones can reprogram themselves and nobody seems to have given a moment's thought about what they would do if it turned out they were in a typical Sheckley plot and everything was about to horribly wrong.

I actually enjoyed some of the earlier bits of this - the revelation that the killer's brainwaves are not unique to murders - but it is a nice example of an idiot plot. Also, Sheckley introduces something early on but does not consider how it could affect his plot: not all murderers have the distinctive mental pattern and so their intentions would be invisible to the War Birds.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
The Space Cow

A simple Martian doctor, trapped in what he sees as a dead-end job, is dragged into a scheme to treat a potentially valuable animal from Ganymede. The doctor considers this well out of his field of expertise and is even less enthusiastic about the whole thing when he learns that the Space Cow is the size of a large whale and he is expected to do his diagnosis from inside the digestive system of the animal.

This all works out well but the plan to treat the animal is very much an example of "we've thought up a daring and for all we know lethal gambit and we've decided you are the ideal person to carry it out." And really, him being a doctor doesn't come into the resolution as much as him just keeping his eyes and mind open rather than settling on a solution early on and ignoring contrary evidence.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
The Cage

A group of humans, marooned without even basic survival equipment on a hostile world, are mistaken by passing aliens for animals and taken as specimens. Early attempts to convince the aliens that the humans are intelligent fail to attract the aliens' attention, leaving open the possibility the humans will all be vivisected by their hosts.

I nearly skipped this because I thought I'd listened to it before. In fact, what I listened to was the Mind Webs adaptation of the story.

One interesting detail that got through the poor quality of the file I listened to: the protagonist is quick to claim Mary, the woman captured with him and his companion, as his. She is just as quick to make it clear she has free will and does not claim him (sadly, otherwise she is useless but then, so is he).
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Jenny With Wings

A young winged lady who believes she has found love consults a doctor over (among other things) her worry that she might not be able to have children; in the course of the conversation we see that her wings have greatly complicated her social life, generally not in positive ways. Alas for her Read more... )
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Routine Exercise

The captain of a nuclear sub relates a rather unlikely tale about having been drawn into the past through some obscure mechanism, where he and his men did battle with off-world invaders. The twist is Read more... )
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
links later.

A terminally-ill young boy hangs all his hope for salvatio on his realization that Read more... )
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Nigh simultaneous nuclear tests by the Americans and the Russians produce twin casualties; for different reasons both the Americans and Russians are alarmed to discover they seem to have killed an Angel. Both great powers struggle to understand what the significance of all this is.

Interesting set-up, terrible ending.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
This is one of Bradbury's better known stories, perhaps his best known. In it, a man with more money than sense pays some people with more greed than sense to take him into the past to hunt dinosaurs. Although the people with the time machine are aware of the risk of altering history, they believe their precautions should be sufficient to prevent it and if they are not, at least heavy fines will be applied. This all ends fairly suboptimally.

I wonder if the new timeline is the one that leads to the "To the Future" timeline.

I'd like to say I cannot believe a company would be dumb enough to put all of history at risk to pocket some money but actually it is quite believable.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
A surgeon, displaced by superior robotic technology, consider murder as a (badly thought out) step towards discrediting the machines. In the end, he cannot wilfully kill a patient but it does not matter as fate hands him the weapons he needs.

See Ear Theater did this as well and I didn't like it much better then. The doctor is mainly motivated by personal distress at being displaced rather than altruism (although it turns out the robots do have some bugs (1) and his basic argument for keeping humans in the loop boil down to 'Because Humans!' If I was of this period I would be less concerned about the robodocs and more concerned that the robocops are able and permitted to gun people down on the spot.

1: Bugs that would not have come into play except for human error.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Back into the world of South African radio in the now mythical year of 1968. I wonder if SF 68 would have changed its name if it had lasted more than a year.

No links for these, I am afraid.

A spacecraft en route to Mars suffers a mission-killing mishap, leaving the craft, its crew and the passengers - mostly men but one woman, generally considered the obvious weakling - trapped in space. When it becomes clear help will not arrive in time to avoid at least some of the passenger's starving to death, the survivors turn to methods other than rationing to mitigate the food shortage.

There really isn't much point to have Read more... )
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Last Rites

A minister is called to administer Last Rites to an old friend who he has not seen in years. The minister is convinced if only he could convince his friend to accept medical treatment the fellow could be saved; the dying friend is determined not to allow this for reasons that relate to a fantastic hypothetical he wants the minister's opinion on, a hypothetical that is not hypothetical at all.

Wikipedia's entry for Charles Beaumont

And that's it for SF 68. A bit archaic but not without its points of interest.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Homecoming

Unfortunately the sound quality on this episode was not great and I could not follow a lot of the dialogue.

A man wakes from what he is told was a long coma following an accident. Aided by his wife, he does his best to fit back into society but it becomes clear what he has been told cannot be the truth. This, of course, leads to a surprising revelation about what is really gong on.

And it really was a suprise revelation because while there are elements of horror to the fellow's predicament, his hosts are in fact rather benevolent and willing to put in a surprising amount of effort on behalf of a stranger.

I am not familiar with Arthur Sellings' fiction but I am tempted to keep an eye out for more. A short piece on him may be found here.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Included with the radio plays are the ads that ran in each episode. These are for a brand of enzyme-based washing powder called Biotex (a brand that seems to still be in business today, owned by Unilever). Aside from being charmingly quaint, the ads make me wonder who exactly the target audience for SF 68 was supposed to be.

Alien Worlds was backed by a candy bar company while X Minus One was sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon and E-Series Bonds.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
The Death Dust

A trio of astronauts make the first trip to the Moon; two of them explore the surface while the third stays with their vehicle. Unfortunately for them, the dust that makes up the Lunar surface turns out to highly toxic through some mechanism they lack the resources to work out [1].

With two of his companions dead and Earth growing rapidly before him, the remaining astronaut, safe for the moment in his suit, is given a very uncomfortable decision to make, since there's no way to rule out the toxic substance being a living organism that could spread across Earth in a virgin field epidemic.

This managed to get enough details about going to the Moon right it was a bit disappointing when he got something very wrong (the gravity thing, and the way the dust floated on the airless Moon, although perhaps it was charged). When the original story was written, very little was known about the surface of the Moon, although the speculation (referred to in the story) that it might be entirely free of dust was one of the lower probability ones.

As it turns out, you probably wouldn't want to breathe air tainted with regolith dust for an extended period because the stuff is made of tiny, extremely sharp fragments and given that the dust was doing bad things to the astronauts' space suits I cannot see it being good for alveoli.

All I know about this Frank Harvey is that he seems to have a very short and magazine specific career.

1: Although for some reason they do have a medicine for a hemorrhagic fever in their medical kit.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Andover And The Android

Faced with the consequences of social deviance, a rather unlikable bachelor* finds an unconventional solution in an illegal android, something that will fill the requirement to at least appear to submit to convention without the bother of having to cohabit with a beastly living woman who might have preferences and desires and a voice.

Of course, it all goes horribly wrong, wrong in a manner driven by the protagonist's unwillingness to admit to having had an unacceptable relationship, to the point he literally chooses death over embarrassment.

Odd there would be two stories in a row involving artificial humans but that seems to be a fluke, going by descriptions of the episodes.


Kate Wilhelm (née Katie Gertrude Meredith; born June 8, 1928) is an American writer whose works include science fiction, mystery, and fantasy.


* At whom various people were tossing unmarried females, because apparently being married to this jerk isn't as undesirable as being single.

SF 68

Dec. 10th, 2012 06:45 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
I should have begun with this:

SF 68, a short-lived series from—appropriately enough—1968, originated in South Africa and was produced and directed by the dean of radio drama in that country, Michael McCabe.


More details at the far end of the link.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Quest (Lee Harding)

An earnest young man with a voice and demeanor that makes me want to take his lunch money lives in a vast city that as far as he can tell covers the entire world and extends down into it a surprising distance. He craves to touch something real, by which he means something not created by humans. Provoked into action when his adviser, who he took to be human, is revealed to be a robot, he sets out on a journey that will take to what appears to be the last garden on Earth.

The ending of this was foreseeable from the outset but there were moments that reminded me of Walter Jon Williams' Metropolitan and a very little bit of Ian McDonald's Out on Blue Six; the first in particular when an elder caretaker puts the blame on the gods leaving Earth and closing the gates behind them.

From wikipedia:
Lee John Harding (born 19 February 1937) is an Australian freelance photographer, who became a writer of science fiction novels and short stories.

Profile

james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
james_davis_nicoll

May 2017

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28293031   

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated May. 27th, 2017 07:22 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios