2000x: Tales of the Next Millennia

, formerly known as Beyond 2000, was a science fiction anthology produced by Hollywood Theater of the Ear for NPR (National Public Radio) from 1999 to 2000. The series included 46 stories spanning 26 episodes. Episodes were in 60-minute format.

Producer/Director Yuri Rasovsky's vision was to dramatize a wide variety of stories which would highlight the social, political, and technological possibilities of the new millennium. He hired award-winning author Harlon Ellison to act as literary advisor to help choose which stories to dramatize, and to act as series host. Rasovsky's requirements were that the stories be set in the future (beyond 2000 AD), represent a wide variety of story types, be well-written, and involve good drama. Ellison added that the stories must involve drama that can be spoken (either as dialogue between characters or by an interesting narrator), must have visual content (this is, after all, the Theatre of the Mind), and must have adventure to move the story along.

The result was a radio production that included classic works of science fiction as well as more modern works, and included traditional sci-fi/fantasy authors as well as authors not generally associated with that genre. Audio quality, sound effects, music and acting were all excellent.

Authors included: George Bernard Shaw, Jack London, Mark Twain, and Rudyard Kipling as well as the more expected Roger Zelazny, Theodore Sturgeon, Kurt Vonnegut, and Connie Willis. Genres included: heroic tragedy, future Earth, time travel, dystopia, aliens, sci-fi, humour, space exploration, and creatures. Actors included: Robin Williams, Richard Dreyfuss, Samantha Eggar, Charles Durning, Jay O. Sanders, Lynn Thigpen, Jackson Beck, Norman Corwin and some 80 others. At the bottom of this page, I have included full cast and crew credits.


It is interesting to compare 2000x with 2000 Plus, produced one-half century earlier. Both series sought to tell stories 'beyond the year 2000', both were science fiction anthologies, both utilized experienced directors, and both employed top actors of their day, but the results are polar opposites: while 2000x is a polished, professional, intelligent production, 2000 Plus feels more like a juvenile work-in-progress. There are many reasons for this.

The first, of course, is that 2000 Plus was live radio. You heard everything that happened in the studio during the broadcast... and only those things that happened. There were no retakes, so bloopers could not be fixed; sound effects were created on the spot with only those objects that could fit into the studio; directors cued the actors with hand gestures and, sometimes, dirty looks; musicians listened to the performance, read the score, and played when the music director indicated. There was a sense of immediacy to the performance that sometimes sounded 'unfinished', but wasn't: it was live. 2000x, on the other hand, used massive amounts of post-processing: splicing different cuts to remove bloopers; creating and modifying the entire soundscape with sounds added from digital libraries or recorded on location; and composing music to match tracks that were already recorded. Actors were recorded separately, sometimes from different parts of the country, and spliced together on different tracks. The effect was to add polish at the expense of spontaneity.

The second reason was the quality of the writing. Sure, 2000 Plus penned their own stories, while 2000x drew on the best science fiction/fantasy writing of the past 300 years. At first glance, this seems significant. Clearly, 2000x started with a wider story base, but they didn't stop there; their script writing was also sharper, more complex, and more perceptive than anything produced for 2000 Plus. Why? I mean, the stories being published in 1950 were much more complex than anything produced on radio at the time, and 50% of the 2000x canon had already been written by 1950 and could have been produced for 2000 Plus (or Dimension X, for that matter) and wasn't. Why?

That brings me to the third reason: the producers. The producers had their pulse on what they thought the American public wanted and would tolerate. In the words of Harlan Ellison, "Everything was simplified and dumbed down for what they thought was a very unsophisticated yokel kind of country farmer audience." The producers cut the legs out from under their own writers and the end result, though good, was not nearly as good as it could have been. Yuri Rasovsky's vision proves that. If "A Curious Fragment" (where ruthless industrialists take advantage of the working class) had been produced in 1950, the producers would have been branded as Communist sympathizers... even if "The Marching Morons" (where the moronic masses take advantage of the the productive class) was broadcast as part of the same series as ballast.

While 2000 Plus represented cutting-edge science fiction drama on radio, 2000x represents the culmination of 50 years of learning how to produce audio drama right. 2000x is a series which provides variety and balance; there is something here for everybody.

Note: Host Harlan Ellison sometimes describes himself as 'the most contentious person now walking the Earth'. His narrative style is abrasive and arrogant. But if you can get beyond that, you will find some very entertaining anecdotes and commentary. And if you can't get beyond it, fast forward through the introduction and listen to the stories, because they are definitely worth listening to.


Yuri Rasovsky passed away in 2012; he will be missed. Some his work may still be downloaded from his official website, while other work may be still purchased through Downpour (formerly, Blackstone). Rasovsky's archived website on the Wayback Machine still hosts a couple of Rochelle O'Gorman interviews: with Yuri Rasovsky and the abrasive and often contentious Harlan Ellison. There is also an article by Julie Prendiville Roux examinging the extremely valuable and exacting work of engineer Warren Dewey.

Sources used to create my own log and double-check titles, dates and cast members: Yuri Rasovsky's current website, his archived website at the Wayback Machine, SFF Audio, Radio Drama Revival, Jerry Stearns' NPR Playhouse fan website, Internet Speculative Fiction Database, IMDb, and Project Gutenberg.


Currently this archive contains 46 of 46 plotlines and 31 reviews

Webmaster Recommends:
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All for Love

Year: 2000
Duration: 57 min
Genre: Heroic Tragedy
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Yuri Rasovsky (editor)
Story by: John Dryden, 1678

A blank verse version of the story of Antony and Cleopatra focusing on the last hours of their lives. Although the words are mainly those of John Dryden, the story has been transplanted from Egypt to Venus in a far future time. Terran empire dominates. Antony, a general and local Terran commander on Venus, has gone local and thrown his support behind his mistress, Cleopatra, the long-time ruler of Venus. Octavius gathers his forces and prepares to wrest control from both Antony and Cleopatra.

Opening Lines:

'Twas once that Octavius Caesar and
our lord Antony held sway o'er all the
satellites of Sol, dividing twixt themselves
the whole, but then the love of Cleopatra,
our queen of Venus, in Antony awoke
and kindled to fury passions that dormant
had lain in his breast.

Whilst he with her on Venus gave himself
to love, Octavius on Earth began
to plot their fall and seize the rule entire.

As soon as Caesar finished preparations
he issued a decree declaring war on
Cleopatra and revoking all of
Antony's authority, which he had
let a woman exercise in his place.

Now, Antony lay with his fleet near Actium,
betwixt his planet and the queen's,
and there when the armaments gathered for war,
Octavius sought to meet him in the sky
where he advantage held as all well knew.

But so wholly was Antony now the mere
appendage to the person of Cleopatra
that although he had much the upper hand on
land and yet, complacence to his mistress-sweet
made him wish for victory in space.

And so it came to pass high above the dead
and barren Actium, they engaged.

The fortune of the day was undecided,
and the battle equal, when on a sudden
Cleopatra's ships were seen making out
to space in full flight.

As if he had been a part of her and must
needs move with her where-so-where she went, as
soon as he espied her rocket ship away from
battle soaring, Antony abandoned
all that were fighting and spending their lives
for him and spun his craft around to follow
her back to Venus.

Within the sulphurous clouds of which their twain craft
disappeared, his fleet a long resistance gave
to Caesar, but at last gave up the contest.

As matters present stand, all airborne from yon
moons the Terran fleet hangs o'er us black and
threatening like a storm just breaking on our heads.
Our fate, Venusians pray for Anthony,
but in their servile hearts they own Octavius.


With Robertson Dean (Alexas), Norman Lloyd (Ventidius), Robert Foxworth (Antony), Christina Pickles (Cleopatra), Kristoffer Tabori (Dolobella), and Lorna Raver (Octavia). Also with Janet Borrus, Ira Burton, and Amanda Karr.

Reading Link: "All for Love; Or, The World Well Lost: A Tragedy by John Dryden", by John Dryden, available at Project Gutenberg.

Reviews:
A fast-moving tale which crams an awful lot into an hour—you might want to read along. This is an odd adaptation, taking the words of John Dryden (mostly) and applying them to the future when, in the words of Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it". Except for a change in time and space, this is a faithful adaptation of Dryden's work. The music and sound effects are good; the story, engaging; and the acting, satisfactory... with the exception of Cleopatra. She whines and pouts while delivering words that are strong and decisive. I found that annoying. [6/10] --- zM

And Miles to Go Before I Sleep

Year: 2000
Duration: 9 min
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: William F Nolan and Yuri Rasovsky
Story by: William F. Nolan, 1958

An extremely abbreviated version of the William F. Nolan tale. A dying spaceman who has spent more than one-half his life in space, struggles to cheat death and find a way to keep the last promise he ever made to his parents—to return to see them one last time before he dies.

With John Schuck (astronaut, android), Ira Burton (man), and Laura Kellogg (woman).

A half-hour version was produced for Mindwebs (as "Promises to Keep: A Science Fiction Drama").

Reviews:

As Easy as ABC

Year: 2000
Duration: 43 min
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Yuri Rasovsky
Story by: Rudyard Kipling, 1912

The District of Northern Illinois has cut itself out of all systems and and has pledged to remain disconnected until the Aërial Board of Control (ABC) take over and administer it directly. Every Northern Illinois freight and passenger tower is out of action; all District main, local, and guiding lights have been extinguished; all General Communications are dumb, and through traffic has been diverted. No reason had been given, but unofficially the Mayor of Chicago has complained of 'crowd-making' and 'invasion of privacy'.

With Tony Jay (De Forest), Ira Burton (Vincent), Arte Johnson (Pirolo), Brian Finney (Arnott), Joe Greco (the mayor), J.J. Johnston (Bluthner), and Laura Kellogg (woman).

Reading Link: "As Easy as ABC", in the collection _A Diversity of Creatures_ by Rudyard Kipling, available at Project Gutenberg.

Reviews:

Blood

Year: 2000
Duration: 3 min
Genre: Vampires, Humour
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Yuri Rasovsky
Story by: Fredric Brown, 1955

A short, short story about two vampires who, fleeing persecution in their own time, use a time machine to travel into the future where, they hope, mankind will have forgotten all about vampires, and they will be free to dine unhindered.

With Phil Proctor (Vladimir), Melinda Peterson (Sophia), and Ira Burton (Brassicus).

Reviews:
Cracked me up. --- zM

Bloodchild

Year: 2000
Duration: 32 min
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Yuri Rasovsky
Story by: Octavia E. Butler, 1984
Awards: Hugo, 1985; Nebula, 1985

Terran refugees on a foreign planet live on a preserve where they are protected from the native Tlic race, but can still be bought, sold and traded for political favours. One of the services most sought after from the Terrans is that they act as host mothers in a complex breeding process.

With Dylan Kussman (Gan), Christina Pickles (Lien, mother), John Coppola (Qui, brother), Ann Marie Lee (Xuan Hoa, sister), and Lynne Thigpen (T'Gatoi). Also with Ira Burton, Lorna Raver, and Fred Koella (guitar solos).

Reading Link: "Bloodchild", by Octavia Butler, available at The Washington Post.

Reviews:
A very intense, complex story which weaves together a tapestry of emotions: from disgust and revulsion to tenderness, compassion and love. As the story moves forward, building suspense and slowly revealing essential details, a simple guitar accompaniment (Fred Koella) adds a sense of wistful foreboding. An excellent story, the strength of which depends strongly upon the brilliant acting of Dylan Kussman and Lynne Thigpen and, to a lesser degree, John Coppola. Highly recommended. [8/10] --- zM

One of my favorite episodes from the CD, in fact, one of my favorite stories of all time, is Bloodchild by Octavia E. Butler. The production of it is phenomenal and the story is so haunting. It's an incredible cross between sci-fi and horror. I never tire of listening to it. --- Cameron P.

By His Bootstraps

Year: 2000
Duration: 51 min
Genre: Time Travel
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Yuri Rasovsky
Story by: Robert A. Heinlein, 1941

Bob Wilson, a college student typing his PhD thesis on time travel, is startled to discover a strange man step through a time gate into his dorm room. The man is unshaven, looks like he has been in a brawl, has one heck of a shiner, a swollen lip... and looks oddly familiar.

"This story was produced in 1982. Dreyfuss and Cordis Heard (John Heard’s sister) were recorded in NY. Engineer Richard Fairbanks and I finished it in Chicago. It won a couple of awards on its first airing. When the NPR commission of 2000x came along 16 years later, it gave me a chance to take Bootstraps out of mothballs." --- Yuri Rasovsky as quoted from Radio Drama Revival

With Richard Dreyfuss (Bob Wilson). Also with Cordis Heard, Ira Burton, and Kascia Marciniak.

Reviews:
Remarkably well done! One of the many classic time travel stories by Robert A. Heinlein and like all time travel stories the paradoxes are enough to tie your brain into a Gordian Knot. [SPOILER] In this story a man meets multiple versions of himself all played by the same actor, Richard Dreyfuss. This could be a listening nightmare, but the production crew pull it off to great effect through the creative use of recording techniques. I never had trouble figuring out who was speaking even when there were three versions of Bob Wilson in the same room! [END SPOILER]. A great story, well played by Richard Dreyfuss. [8/10] --- zM

I don't know about you, but I found several of the episodes way too farcical for my tastes, with some of the actors going way over the top to obnoxiousness. Richard Dreyfus in, "By His Bootstraps" is in full Daffy Duck mode throughout most of the play. It's practically unbearable. And Harlan Ellison would definitely not have been my first choice to host the series. His attitude seemed more fitting to comedy or satire. --- Cameron P.

By the Waters of Babylon

aka: "The Place of the Gods"
Year: 2000
Duration: 26 min
Genre: Future Earth, Dystopia
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Stephen Vincent Benét, 1937

A post-holocaust tale of a priest's son whose rite of passage is to venture to the forbidden ruins left by the long-departed gods.

With Jay O. Sanders (monologue).

Another version was produced for Mindwebs (as "The Place of the Gods").

Reading Link: "By the Waters of Babylon", by Stephen Vincent Benét, available at Project Gutenberg Canada.

Reviews:
Same great story as the Mindwebs version, but better produced. Both are essentially 'readings', but the Mindwebs version uses background music throughout and that seems to trivialize and lighten the message, which is unfortunate, for the message is a sombre one, requiring reflection and a muted delivery to underscore its tragedy. When the 2000x version does use music and sound effects—during the conclusion—the effect is extremely powerful. Well done! [9/10] --- zM

Choice, The

Year: 2000
Duration: 5 min
Genre: Time Travel
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Yuri Rasovsky
Story by: Wayland Young

A short, short story in which a scientist travels into the future with notepad, camera, and tape recorder and returns to tell all that he has seen.

With Nathan Osgood (Williams, time traveller) and Ira Burton (Carruthers, assistant).

Reviews:
Contemplative. --- zM

Collector's Fever

Year: 2000
Duration: 7 min
Genre: Humour
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Yuri Rasovsky
Story by: Roger Zelazny, 1964

A humorous short, short story about a collector gathering up an intelligent rock that doesn't want to be collected.

With Ira Burton (Stone ??), David Ossman (collector ??), Melinda Peterson (rock #2), and Phil Proctor (rock #3).

Reviews:

Curious Fragment, A

Year: 2000
Duration: 27 min
Genre: Future Earth, Dystopia
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Jack London, 1908

This story takes place in the 26th century, after 500 years of industrial oligarchy. The rulers of that time view the working-class as little more than 'herd-animals' and enforce that status by ruthlessly stamping out all literacy. The ember of rebellion, however, has not been completely extinguished and 'story-tellers' evolve to keep the spirit of freedom alive.

With Erik Bauersfeld (story-teller) and Stefan Rudnicki (editor).

Snippet: "I chose to become a story-teller, wandering over the land and getting close to my brothers, the slaves, everywhere. And I tell you stories like this, secretly, knowing that you will not betray me; for if you did, you know as well as I that my tongue will be torn out and that I shall tell stories no more. And my message is, brothers, that there is a good time coming, when all will be well in the world and there will be neither masters nor slaves. But first you must prepare for that good time by learning to read. There is power in the printed word. And here am I to teach you to read, and as well there are others to see that you get the books wherein you will learn about your masters, and learn to become as strong even as they." --- the story-teller

Reading Link: "A Curious Fragment", available in the collection _The Chinago and Other Stories_ by Jack London, available at Internet Archive.

Reviews:
If you are familiar only with Jack London's Far North works, like White Fang and The Call of the Wild you're in for a shock. This story presents a very strong social message about workers' rights and the harm that unchecked industrial power can bring. It is told in 'story-teller' fashion with repetition and ramblings. The style is very effective; it's a style that Erik Bauersfeld (from The Black Mass) plays very well! If you like Bauersfeld's style of delivery, be sure to check out The Black Mass series. [8/10] --- zM

Dear Pen Pal

Year: 2000
Duration: 14 min
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: A.E. van Vogt, 1949

Scander, a convicted criminal who has spent the last 70 years in prison, is desperate to escape. He begins a correspondence with an unsuspecting Earthling by means of the Interstellar Correspondence Club and begins to lay his plans...

With Charles Durning (monologue).

Reviews:
Slightly humorous, slightly intriguing. Told as a series of letters from an alien to an Earthling. It is clear right from the start that more is going on than we hear about. Clues are dribbled out fast enough to keep us interested, but not fast enough to give away the ending. The story builds slowly to a strong ending. Good pacing... gets you hooked, then reels you in. [7/10] --- zM

Dialogue for the Year 2130, A

aka: "Extracted from the Album of a Modern Sibyl"
Year: 2000
Duration: 15 min
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: T.H. Lister, 1829

In 1826, saddened by the deaths of her husband and Lord Byron, and pondering the death of the Romantic political ideals for which they stood, Mary Shelley wrote a dystopian novel entitled The Last Man. A few years later, T.H. Lister published a response which offered a more positive vision: a prosperous world due to the marvels of technological achievement. The response was published in 1829 in the literary magazine The Keepsake and provides a glimpse into life 300 years hence—a world of automaton note-writers, steam-powered porters, and rapid transportation. The glimpse is provided as a polite conversation among three socialites from the year 2130 discussing art, music, dancing, literature (both current and archaic), military campaigns, literacy, news, and agricultural production.

With Phil Proctor (Lord A), Abby Hopgood (Lady D), and Nathan Osgood (Mr C).

Reading Link: "A Dialogue for the Year 2130: Extracted from the Album of a Modern Sibyl", by T.H. Lister, available at Romantic Circles.

Reviews:
Far, far better than the written story, but still... bewildering. I take it the story included social commentary, witticisms, and satire based on class structure in 19th century England, but I seemed to have missed it all. Remarkably clear elocution by Abby Hopgood who has a very pleasing voice and whose style of speaking is funny even though I didn't understand her meaning. [5/10] --- zM

Dream of Armageddon, A

Year: 2000
Duration: 45 min
Genre: Future Earth, Dystopia
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: H.G. Wells, 1903

On a long train ride, a man discusses with a stranger the odd 'consecutive dream' he has been having for the past month—a dream of a dark future in which he must choose to live with the woman he loves... or return to a life of dirty politics so as to prevent the onslaught of global war. It is one or the other; there is no middle ground. The dream is so vivid... so lifelike... that he can't even be sure it is a dream. Mightn't it be something else?

With Martin Jarvis (narrator). Also with Melinda Peterson, Hamilton Camp, Ira Burton, Laura Kellogg, and Stefan Rudnicki.

Another version was produced for Escape (as "Dream of Armageddon").

Reading Link: "A Dream of Armageddon", in the collection _Twelve Stories and a Dream_ by H.G. Wells, available at Project Gutenberg.

Reviews:
A slow-moving dream sequence that is very strong on mood and character development, but weak on plot. Excellent pacing and solid acting. So-so ending. Enjoyed this version much more than the Escape version because more time was spent describing the details of the future Earth. It was also truer to the H.G. Wells version. [7/10] --- zM

Even the Queen

Year: 2000
Duration: 29 min
Genre: Future Earth, Humour
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Yuri Rasovsky
Story by: Connie Willis, 1992
Awards: Hugo, 1993; Nebula, 1993; Sturgeon, 1993

22-year old Perdita has joined the Cyclists, and the rest of the family are determined to stop her from ruining her life! Well... except for her mother who thinks she has a right to ruin her life. After all, it's a question of personal sovereignty and that's what made The Liberation possible in the first place, wasn't it?

With Janet Carroll (Tracey), Brian Finney (Bish), Barbara Rush (Tracey's mother), Ashley Gardner (Viola), Amy Van Horne (Twidge; Perdita), Diana Douglas, (Tracy's mother-in-law), Melissa Greenspan (Evangeline), Laura Kellogg (waitress).

Reviews:
Quite funny... in that classic Connie Willis way. If you've ever sat around the table while your family exert pressure on you to do something you really don't want to do, you'll understand. [7/10] --- zM

Hunting Season, The

Year: 2000
Duration: 57 min
Genre: Dystopia, Time Travel
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Yuri Rasovsky
Story by: Frank M. Robinson, 1951

The State no longer executes those it finds guilty of treason. Instead, it transports them back in time and proclaims them 'fair game' in sanctioned Hunts. David Black has been found guilty of treason. He has been transported to a large American city in the mid-20th century. Five hundred hunters have also arrived. It doesn't matter that David Black was framed. It doesn't matter that those who framed him will be the quickest to the hunt. It doesn't matter because... the hunt is about to begin.

With John O'Hurley (David), Tom Towles (Reid), Janet Carroll (Liz), John Schuck(John). Also with Ira Burton, Hamilton Camp, Milton James, Laura Kellogg.

Snippet: "David Black is afraid. He's tried to control it, but he knows it shows in the glistening shine on his pale face, in the nervous jump of his cheek muscles, and in the restless pacing back and forth on the faded rug of the seedy room of the seedy hotel. It's late afternoon, and it won't be long before the onset of the Hunt..."

Reviews:
Very well done! A tense, action-packed episode, full of irony... with a brisk beginning and an abrupt, yet satisfying, conclusion. Excellent pacing, acting, music, and audio quality. John O'Hurley is perfect in the role of the hunted: scared and decisive at the beginning of the hunt, but becoming tired and disoriented as the hunt progresses. This story uses a style I haven't heard in radio before: in addition to hearing what each character says, we also 'hear' each character's inner monologue. It is as if we are an omniscient observer, privy to each character's inner thoughts. In this story, the style works as we hear what both the hunter and the hunted are thinking, and that adds to the tension. [8/10] --- zM

Hurricane Trio

Year: 2000
Duration: 55 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Yuri Rasovsky
Story by: Theodore Sturgeon, 1955

A strong, self-centred man becomes frustrated and impatient with his compliant wife... at about the same time that he, coincidentally, meets an attractive, independent woman.

With Miriam Flynn (Beverly, wife), Allan Miller (Yancey, husband), James Otis (store clerk), Kaitlin Hopkins (Lois), and Norman Corwin (the alien). Also with Ira Burton and Lorna Raver.

Reviews:
Rasovsky and crew create a brilliant soundscape which features plenty of stormy weather to highlight the stormy relationship among the trio: Yancey, egotistical and ambitious; Beverly, meek stay-at-home wife; Lois, strong-willed and free from the mores of society. Solid acting all around and a well-written story. I was instantly attracted to Beverly, not so much with Yancey and Lois. I suppose that's what Sturgeon intended. The attraction between Yancey and Lois is a sub-rational, primal yearning and contrasts with the warm and supportive home life that Yancey may want, but doesn't have. The raging hurricane mirrors the raging emotional state of the trio. But because this is a Sturgeon story, it is a story about people... and how they change. [7/10] --- zM

In a Thousand Years

Year: 2000
Duration: 8 min
Genre: Future Earth, Satire
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Hans Christian Andersen, 1852

A short speculative piece about what Americans might find (in a thousand years) when they travel to Europe on that one-week vacation they've saving for. Presented as a newsreel travelogue.

Phil Proctor (newscaster).

Reading Link: "In a Thousand Years", in the collection _What the Moon Saw: and Other Tales_ by Hans Christian Andersen, available at Project Gutenberg.

Snippet: "Yes, in a thousand years people will fly on the wings of steam through the air, over the ocean! The young inhabitants of America will become visitors of old Europe. They will come over to see the monuments and the great cities, which will then be in ruins, just as we in our time make pilgrimages to the tottering splendours of Southern Asia. In a thousand years they will come!"

Reviews:

In the Year 2889

Year: 2000
Duration: 41 min
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: David Ossman and Yuri Rasovsky
Story by: Jules Verne and Michel Verne, 1889

A prophetic glimpse into the life of a business tycoon in the year 2889. The tycoon in question is Francis Bennett, the owner of the Earth-Harold news service and a pioneer in the field of telephonic journalism.

With Phil Proctor (Jules Verne), Petrea Burchard (Edith, Bennett's wife), Janet Fontaine (tour guide), David Dukes (Bennett, tycoon), Hamilton Camp (Bernstien, assistant), Brian Finney (Dr Wilkins), George Murdock (Professor Arrownax). Also with Laura Kellogg, Sandy Orkin, Melinda Peterson, and Ira Burton.

Reading Link: "In the Year 2889", by Jules and Michel Verne, available at Project Gutenberg.

Snippet: "Such, for this year of grace 2889, is the history of one day in the life of the editor of the Earth-Harold. And the history of that one day is the history of 365 days every year, except leap-years, and then of 366 days—for as yet no means has been found of increasing the length of the terrestrial year."

Reviews:

It Came from Outer Pinsk

Year: 2000
Duration: 2 min
Genre: Humour
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Yuri Rasovsky

A micro-story about a mad scientist who works late in his laboratory trying to grant the essence of life to inanimate objects... with surprising results.

With Hamilton Camp(mad scientist) and Phil Proctor (peer).

Reviews:

Knock

Year: 2000
Duration: 20 min
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Yuri Rasovsky
Story by: Fredric Brown, 1948

"The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock at the door." Aliens who have no concept of natural death have wiped out humanity, literally to the last man and woman, whom they put in a zoo as public curiosities.

With Lorna Raver (Grace), René Auberjonois (Walter), and Ira Burton (narrator; George).

Versions were produced for 2000x, Dimension X, Future Tense, Mindwebs, Seeing Ear Theatre, and X Minus One.

Reviews:
Knock was produced for: 2000x, Dimension X (DX), Future Tense (FT), Mindwebs (MW), Seeing Ear Theatre (SET), and X Minus One (X-1). The plot is very simple and the success of each adaptation depends strongly on its actors. It's hard to choose a favourite because all versions were well-made and each production has its strengths and weaknesses. I rate all of them [7/10]. --- zM

The 2000x and SET versions are identical productions, except 2000x includes an introduction by Harlan Ellison and SET includes more closing music. The DX, FT, and X-1 versions share the same script, but have different casts. MW is a reading for two people with incidental music and sound effects.
Script
MW tops my list, because it is a reading of the original Fredric Brown story. SET is a close second because it closely follows the Brown story and modifies it only for dramatic effect. The DX/FT/X-1 versions introduce torture as a plot element, seemingly so Grace can fall in love with Walter's physical courage. (In the other versions she seems content to fall in love with his subtle and perceptive mind.)
Narrator
You just can't beat Norman Rose in the DX version. Wonderful tone, inflection, and pacing. But Ira Burton in the SET version is not bad and Michael Hanson in MW follows as a close third. Fred Collins in the X-1 version sounds like he should be selling ice cream, not introducing a horror story
Walter
By far the best is René Auberjonois in the SET version. His air of amused tolerance contrasts nicely with Grace's frustration with him not acting like a MAN! Luis Van Rooten is next best in X-1.
Grace
Best is Lori March in the X-1 version. Mary Armantrout (MW) has a beautiful, innocent/blushing voice, but lacks the intensity required by Grace's character. Lorna Raver is very good in SET, but the microphone is too close and it picks up every swallow and cluck in her throat. Very distracting.
Zan (George)
Best is Greg Moody in the Future Tense version. Followed closely by Luis Van Rooten in DX and X-1. The weakest is Hanson's character voice in MW. I found it distracting. Also distracting is Ira Burton's robotic-sounding voice in SET.
Sound Quality
SET, followed closely by DX and X-1. MW is also good. FT is garbled, but tolerable.

Learned Fable, A

aka: "Some Learned Fables for Good Old Boys and Girls"
Year: 2000
Duration: 55 min
Genre: Humour
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Haris Orkin
Story by: Mark Twain

"Once, the creatures of the forest held a great convention and appointed a commission consisting of the most illustrious scientists among them to go forth, clear beyond the forest and out into the unknown and unexplored world to verify the truth of the matters already taught in their schools and colleges and also to make discoveries." --- Mark Twain

With David Birney (narrator). Also with Ira Burton, Hamilton Camp, Nancy "Bart Simpson" Cartwright, and Pamela Hayden.

Reading Link: "Some Learned Fables for Good Old Boys and Girls", in the collection _Sketches New and Old_ by Mark Twain, available at Project Gutenberg.

Reviews:
A wonderful fable about scientific pomposity and arrogance, full of irony and wry humour. Some of the character voices are extremely annoying, but others are quite funny. Mark Twain had a tendency toward wordiness (as do I), but this adaptation cuts through that and streamlines the tale. Definitely an improvement on the original, which tended to drag a bit. (By the way, this is a modern adaptation, so it includes dialogue and events not found in the original story.) [7/10] --- zM

Little Bank Deposit, A

aka: "The Unsafe Deposit Box"
Year: 2000
Duration: 34 min
Genre: Humour
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Yuri Rasovsky
Story by: Gerald Kersh

Note: fluorine is an extremely reactive element that does not exist naturally on Earth except as compounds with other elements. Early efforts to isolate fluorine were dangerous and often resulted injury or death. --- webmaster

In this story, nuclear physicist Sir Peter Perfrement postulates that a stable isotope of fluorine is possible. His intellectual nemesis, Dr Frankenberg, strongly objects. To prove his point, Sir Peter creates a batch of Fluorine 80+ which is stable, in that it won't react with other elements, but is radioactive. If a critical mass of Fluorine 80+ were confined in certain difficult-to-create conditions, it could explode with enough power to destroy the planet. That, of course, could never happen.

With Tony Jay (Sir Peter Perfrement, physicist), Nathan Osgood (Harlow Ellis, CNN science writer; security officer), Stefan Rudnicki (Dr Frankenberg, skeptic), Phil Proctor (banker), Arte Johnson (police chief). Also with Ira Burton (Razime), and Lorna Raver.

Reviews:

Machine Stops, The

Year: 2000
Duration: 48 min
Genre: Dystopia
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Erik Bauersfeld
Story by: E.M. Forster, 1909
Awards: Science Fiction Hall of Fame, vol two, 1973

In the remote future—when the Earth's surface has become virtually uninhabitable and humanity has retreated underground to die a slow death under the auspices of the Machine—a woman's son declares his intention to violate the fabric of civilization by venturing to the surface. An early 20th century classic of science fiction by E. M. Forster, written as a retort against H.G. Wells' faith in the wonders of a technology-driven future.

With David Warner (the book), Samantha Eggar (Vashti), and Alistair Duncan (Kuno). Also with Gabrielle de Cuir, Laura Kellogg, Melinda Peterson, Phil Proctor, and Stefan Rudnicki.

Another version was produced for the BBC.

Reading Link: "The Machine Stops", by E.M. Forster, available at Good Reads.

Reviews:

Mad Planet, The

Year: 2000
Duration: 55 min
Genre: Dystopia
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Yuri Rasovsky (editor)
Story by: Murray Leinster, 1920

In the late 20th century great fissures opened in the Earth's crust releasing a steady, but slow, flow of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The result was catastrophic. Thirty thousand years later, mankind struggles to survive—ignorant of fire or metals, the uses of stone and wood, and with a language of a few hundred labial sounds, conveying no abstractions and few concrete things. This is the story of Burl... and his voyage away from his tribe, through the carboniferous landscape of The Mad Planet.

With David Dukes (storyteller), Daniel Passer (Burl), and Amanda Karr (Saya).

Reading Link: "The Mad Planet", by Murray Leinster, available at Project Gutenberg.

Reviews:
An action-packed adventure story. Feels almost like a Michael Crichton story—a never-ending series of near-disasters and escapes—except with better attention to detail and logical consistency. (The written story has even more detail!) I prefer slow-moving, thoughtful tales, so this isn't usually my type of story, but somehow this... works. Perhaps because so much detail is provided that I can't get the images out of my head? The footstools... the mould... the ants... the fire... the spiders... the fish... the moths and butterflies... [7/10] --- zM

Marching Morons, The

Year: 2000
Duration: 55 min
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: J. Michael Straczynski and Bert Ross
Story by: C.M. Kornbluth, 1951
Awards: Science Fiction Hall of Fame, vol two, 1973

Centuries of over-breeding by the least intelligent and least capable human beings have weakened the gene pool to the point where only a very few people are capable of producing, creating, or fixing anything. These individuals are hopelessly over-worked... while the rest of the population mooches off their creativity and productivity. A possible solution to this dilemma arises when a late-20th Century human, John Barlow, is discovered in suspended animation. The leaders of this future Earth re-animate Mr Barlow, hoping he may have some fresh ideas.

With Alan Bergmann (Gomez), Nathan Osgood (Hawkins), Avery Schreiber (John Barlow), and Richard Allen (Ngana). Also with Ira Burton, Hamilton Camp, Brian Finney, Ashley Gardner, Melinda Peterson, and Phil Proctor.

Reviews:
"A story that suggests that the gene pool is so polluted that the only thing that can grow on it is the plankton of stupidity." --- Harlan Ellison (from the intro)

Merchant

Year: 2000
Duration: 3 min
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Yuri Rasovsky
Story by: Henry Slesar, 1978

A special meeting of the United Haberdashery Corporation board of directors is convened to discuss alarming sales projections and to figure out what can be done about them. The president, however, doesn't accept those projections... and neither does his guest from the American Foundation of Eugenics.

With Hamilton Camp (chairman), Phil Proctor (CEO) and Ira Burton (professor).

Reviews:

Millennium Bug

Year: 2000
Duration: 2 min
Genre: Humour
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Yuri Rasovsky (as Ytzhak Berle)

A short, humorous piece about the Y3k bug.

With Robert Foxworth (), and Norman Lloyd ().

Reviews:

Millennium Bug II

Year: 2000
Duration: 4 min
Genre: Humour
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Yuri Rasovsky

A short, humorous piece about the Y4k bug.

With Gabrielle de Cuir (), and Stefan Rudnicki ().

Reviews:

Mission of the Vega, The

aka: "Operatsiia Vega"
Year: 2000
Duration: 55 min
Genre: Sci-Fi, War
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Translated by: Alfred Schild
Story by: Friedrich Dürrenmatt, 1966

On the brink of World War Three, the West sends envoys to recruit aid from the penal colony on Venus, only to learn a hard lesson in morality from the sub-culture which has evolved out of the brutal living conditions there.

With Norman Lloyd (), and Kristoffer Tabori (). Also with Newell Alexander (John Smith), Ira Burton, Gabrielle de Cuir, Milton James, Laura Kellogg, George Murdock, James Otis, Lorna Raver, and Stefan Rudnicki.

Another version was produced for the BBC (as "Operation Vega").

Reviews:
Very well written. Enjoyed this version much more than the 1970-ish BBC version—better acting and sound effects. Same great story, though. Plenty of irony. Loved the part where Sir Horace Wood from Earth tries to deliver a rousing political speech and gets drowned out by the horrible weather on Venus. Hehehe. [8/10] --- zM

Moon Maid, The

Year: 2000
Duration: 55 min
Genre: Space Exploration, Aliens, Humour
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Emmett Loverde
Story by: Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1923

A modern tale inspired by the Edgar Rice Burroughs classic: The Moon Maid. Commander Julian 5th, of the spaceship Barsoom, leads the 1st American Voyage (FAV) to the Red Planet, but is forced to crash-land on the Moon, which he discovers is hollow and inside of which he finds many alien races all vying for political power. It's rather complicated.

Cast of Characters

Commander Julian 5th, FAV
Heroic, courageous, redoubtable, slightly ineffectual. Has a thing for the princess.
Lieutenant Commander Orthis, FAV
Brilliant, unscrupulous, and obnoxious. A traitor. Has a thing for the princess.
Lieutenant West, FAV
Eager for power; waiting to take over the moment anything happens to the commander. Has a thing for the princess.
Ensign Norton, FAV
Wet behind the ears, but trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly... A real boy scout type.
Nah-ee-lah
Beautiful 'valley-girl' type princess, fer sure. Has a thing for bad boys.
Ga-va-go
Leader of the carnivorous half-man/half-horse race. Has a thing for the princess.
Gapth
Surfer-guy type bear who had a thing for the princess, but, dude, that was a long time ago. Might still be carrying a torch, though.
Ko-tah
Evil nobleman seeking to overthrow the kingdom of Laythe. Has a thing for the princess.
With Ira Burton (Edgar Rice Burroughs), David Rasche (Commander Julian 5th), Stephen Markle (Mr Norton), James Otis (Lieutenant West), Richard Kind (Lieutenant Commander Orthis), Lorna Raver (computer), Avery Schreiber (Ga-va-go, horseman), Melissa Greenspan (Nah-ee-lah, princess), Tom Towles (Gapth, bear), and Stefen Rudnicki (Ko-tah, nobleman).

Reading Link: "The Moon Maid", by Edgar Rice Burroughs, available at Project Gutenberg Australia.

Reviews:
A frenetic, free-form adaptation which retains Burrough's story structure, but alters most of the details... mostly for comic effect. The result is zany and irreverent. The voices of the crew members are very similar in pitch and style, which is confusing in the early 'spaceship' sequence. I had to listen several times to figure out what was going on. Didn't bother me throughout the rest of the show, though. Great sound effects and supporting music. Excellent casting, especially Melissa Greenspan as the princess. The story moves fast and there's a lot going on, so you really need to pay attention! Certainly not 'serious' literature, but fun in a swashbuckling sort of way. Reminds me of the ZBS productions from the 1970s and 1980s. [7/10] --- zM

Ole Doc Methuselah

Year: 2000
Duration: 57 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Michael Cassutt and Bert Ross
Story by: L. Ron Hubbard as (René Lafayette), 1947

Doc Methuselah and his sidekick Hippocrates cruise the universe in their sleek spaceship Morgue and seek to preserve mankind. While taking a little R&R on the planet Spico, they discover a nefarious plot to swindle immigrants of thier life's savings. As a 'Soldier of Light', Doc is strictly forbidden to take part in politics of any kind... but when a damsel in distress appears, Doc wonders if, perhaps, a slight nudge won't be noticed.

With Jackson Beck (narrator), David Rasche (Ole Doc), Hamilton Camp (Hippocrates; Judge Elston), Petrea Burchard (Alicia Elston), Stephen Markle (Captain Blanchard), Arte Johnson (Dart; Conrad), Newell Alexander (Lem), Rosemary Alexander (Janey), and Melissa Greenspan (Harry). Also with David L Krebs.

Snippet: "The Soldier of Light is no ordinary physician... He is part of an organization of 600... who have dedicated themselves to the ultimate preservation of mankind, no matter the wars or explorations of space. They give allegiance to no government, need no passport. So long as they do not engage in political activity, their persons are inviolate... They are members of the Universal Medical Society and do not practice as do ordinary physicians. They accept no fee. The organization is self-supporting. You see before you my master, Soldier of Light #77, known as Methuselah." --- Hippocrates

Reviews:
The 'science' in L. Ron Hubbard's science fiction is weak at best. Hubbard's stories are actually stories of Adventure and the physical location of those stories is usually unimportant. "Ole Doc Methuselah" could easily be transformed into a Western, with the new, young doctor in town discovering that evil land developers are swindling immigrants with the promise of riches once the railroad gets to town (which it never will). Even though the plot is very simple, the characters are still fun: Doc, glamorous and mysterious; Hippocrates, comic but effective sidekick; Blanchard, evil swindler; Alicia, young, innocent maiden. This is an entertaining story if you don't look too deeply or too critically, but the adaptation falls a little flat: not quite enough plot development, not quite enough humour, not quite enough romance. Ordinary, but fun. [6/10] --- zM

Only Bird in Her Name, The

Year: 2000
Duration: 28 min
Genre: Creatures
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Yuri Rasovsky
Story by: Terry Dowling, 1985

Set in far-future Australia. The technologically-advanced, spiritually-enlightened aboriginal natives of Australia have passed a law to protect the [forgetti], but the new law does not go into effect for another week... which leaves time for one last hunt. Fourteen hard-nosed hunters with fierce eyes, minds like traps, and no compassion have arrived to stalk, pursue and exterminate the last remaining [forgetti], but Tom 'Rynosseros' Tyson and the 'Bird Club' have also arrived, and they plan to disrupt the hunt if they can.

With Peter Dennis (Miesla, hunter), Kaitlin Hopkins (Beth, reporter), and Kristoffer Tabori (Tom Tyson, protector).

Reviews:
A fast-moving tale with plenty of action, but also with plenty of bespoke words—made-up words with special meanings—and Australian accents which make the episode hard to understand. To make matters worse, the recording which I listened to dropped out in several places, so I missed some of the back-story. But the story is a good one, and it's well-told... though you might have to listen several times to catch all that's going on. The music and sound effects are excellent; the acting, solid; the ending, bittersweet and memorable. This is just one of many stories told in Terry Dowling's epic 4-volume 'Rynosseros Cycle'. The cycle deals with great sand ships (charvolants), Ab'O tribes, 'Nationals', high technology and mysticism in far-future Australia. There is much in the cycle that has been omitted but hinted at in this story. The result leaves me wanting more detail and more explanation beyond the brief glimpses I got. I can't decide whether to rate this a [5/10] because of the omissions, or [8/10] because of the enormous potential. One-half hour was far too short. --- zM

Pillar of Fire

Year: 2000
Duration: 51 min
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Dennis Etchison and Yuri Rasovsky (as Ytzhak Berle)
Story by: Ray Bradbury, 1948

In the distant future, there are no burials; the dead are considered unclean and are incinerated shortly after death. A long-term project to destroy all the old cemeteries—to dig up the old coffins and properly dispose of the remains—is nearly complete, but one corpse, angered at the lack of respect for the dead, objects strongly. Fuelled by hate, he strives to punish those responsible for disturbing his rest... even if it means destroying civilization.

With George Murdock (narrator), Allan Miller (Lantry), Phil Proctor (grave digger), Brian Finney (grave digger), Sandy Orkin (McClure), and James Otis (coroner). Also with Ira Burton, Gabrielle de Cuir, Janet Fontaine, and Laura Kellogg.

Reviews:
Excellent music and sound effects create a chilling story that will stick in your mind long after you have finished listening. Very strong on mood and imagery. Allan Miller is great as the corpse, William Lantry. If you are familiar only with Ray Bradbury's sci-fi stories (e.g., "The Martian Chronicles") you will be in for a shock. [8/10] --- zM

Proud Robot, The

Year: 2000
Duration: 57 min
Genre: Sci-Fi, Humour
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Brad Schreiber and Yuri Rasovsky (as Ytzhak Berle)
Story by: Lewis Padgett (Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore), 1943

Mad scientist Galloway Gallegher—the greatest inventor since Leonardo da Vinci and Tom Swift—awakes from a drunken stupor to find the owner of Vox-View, Inc. on his doorstep demanding to know if he's figured a way to outsmart Sonatone yet. It seems Galloway was drunk when he accepted the commission and can't remember why he accepted it or how he planned on completing it. He does have a shiny new robot named Joe who sings like a banshee and spends all his time admiring himself in the mirror... but he can't remember why he invented him, either. Does it have something to do with the Vox-View project?

With Hamilton Camp (Gallegher), Arte Johnson (Joe, the robot), Alan Bergmann (Brock), Ashley Gardner (Silver O'Keith; Patsy Brock). Also with Ira Burton, Robertson Dean, Laura Kellogg, Sandy Orkin, and Brad Schreiber.

Reviews:

R.U.R.

aka: "Rossum's Universal Robots"
Year: 2000
Duration: 55 min
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Karel Čapek, 1921

The classic play from which the word robot was popularized. R.U.R. was first published in 1921, and within two years it had been translated into 30 languages, reflecting, perhaps, the growing frustration workers worldwide were having with their employers during that time. (The Ludlow massacre, for example, took place in 1914.)

A large factory on an isolated island creates robots (androids, really) and sells them worldwide. The robots are obedient and can learn to perform tasks, but cannot feel pleasure or passion... they cannot hope... they have no souls. Into this environment comes young Helena Glory, an activist, bent on liberating the robots from the tyranny of their employers.

With David Birney (Harry Domin; Primus Robot), Ann Marie Lee (Helena Domin; Helena Robot), Alan Bergmann (Alquist), Brian Finney (Fabry), Milton James (Hallemeier), Laura Kellogg (Sulla). Also with Lorna Raver, John Schuck, Kristoffer Tabori, and Stefan Rudnicki.

Another version was produced for Columbia Workshop.

Reading Link: "R.U.R. - Rossum's Universal Robots", by Karel Čapek, available at University of Adelaide Library.

Reviews:
I got off on the wrong foot with this story. Managing Director Harry Domin's attitude toward Helena Glory is patronizing and condescending. No doubt, this is partly due to the era in which the story was written, 1920, but I found the attitude annoying and couldn't buy into the resulting love affair between the two. It's a good story, though, and I definitely enjoyed reading the play. The play, by the way, has far more background information and detail than this dramatization and is worth reading. [7/10] --- zM

I've only had a chance to listen to a few of the episodes but I did notice a major difference between the CD version of R.U.R. and the broadcast version. The CD version is sort of like the Director's Cut. It's about 13 minutes longer with full scenes which really flesh out the story. I guess they were cut for the broadcast version to keep it under an hour. Even the introduction by Harlan Ellison is edited. The short version has a prologue, and a sort of narration in order to skip over the missing scenes. The longer version is much better and makes more sense. --- Cameron P.

"Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman

Year: 2000
Duration: 31 min
Genre: Future Earth, Dystopia
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Harlan Ellison and Yuri Rasovsky
Story by: Harlan Ellison, 1965
Awards: Hugo, 1965; Nebula, 1965; Prometheus (nom), 2010

A future society enslaved to the tyranny of the 'schedule' looks for a saviour in the form of a clownish prankster who refuses to punch the state time-clock.

With Harlan Ellison (narrator), Petrea Burchard (pretty Alice), Artie Johnson (henchman), James Otis (henchman), Stefan Rudnicki (Ticktockman), and Robin Williams (Harlequin). Also with Ira Burton, Hamilton Camp, and Laura Kellogg.

Another version was produced for Mindwebs.

Reviews:
Same great story as the Mindwebs version, but dramatized quite differently. This is an action-packed episode driven by electronic music, sharp sound effects, pulsing rhythms, and the zany improv of Robin Williams. If this turns you off, try the Mindwebs version, but give this version a try first... the performance feels more appropriate to the nature of the story. [7/10] --- zM

Revival Meeting

Year: 2000
Duration: 2 min
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Yuri Rasovsky
Story by: Dannie Plachta, 1969

A humorous vignette about a man placed into cryogenic sleep in the hope that medical science will one day be able to repair his body... and his subsequent revival years later.

With Hamilton Camp (Earthman, year 2088), and Phil Proctor (cryogenically frozen).

Reviews:

Sentience Today

Year: 2000
Duration: 4 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Yuri Rasovsky

Excerpt from the galactic journal of sapientology. Features the character Gort Klaatu.

With Phil Proctor (narrator).

Reviews:

Shambleau

Year: 2000
Duration: 25 min
Genre: Creatures
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Sarah Montague and Bert Ross
Story by: Catherine L. Moore, 1933

Northwest Smith, a man known and respected in every dive and wild outpost on a dozen worlds, hears a mob approaching and warily backs into a doorway, his hand on his heat-gun's grip. Smith, despite his reputation, is a cautious man. The crowd streams around a corner chasing a berry-brown girl in a tattered garment. Yells of "Shambleau!" can be heard. Smith steps between the girl and the crowd, heat-gun drawn, and claims she is his. The crowd backs down. Afterwards, Smith realizes that the oddly beautiful creature is not quite human... and not quite animal. She is Shambleau.

Note: at one point in the written story, Northwest Smith returns to his lodging humming "The Green Hills of Earth"! Robert Heinlein credits the title of this song as being the inspiration for his classic science fiction story of the same name.

With Kristoffer Tabori (Northwest Smith), Ann Marie Lee (Shambleau), and George Murdock (Yarol).

Reading Link: "Shambleau", by C.L. Moore, available at Internet Archive.

Reviews:
Sort of a Vampire/Western story, with a mixture of Greek mythology thrown in for good measure. The story takes place Lakkdarol—Earth's latest colony on Mars—a raw camp-town where "anything might happen, and very often did". Northwest Smith is a space-faring smuggler not quite evil, but not quite chivalrous either. He lives "outside the law" and does not want to draw attention to himself (and his interest in the shipping port and its outbound cargoes), but feels somehow compelled to help Shambleau when the crowd presses in. Smith's subsequent struggle, and descent into primal need, is repulsive and erotic at the same time (much more erotic in the written story) and is quite shocking for a story written in 1933. Mournful, mysterious, and tender; excellent acting, music and sound effects. [8/10] --- zM

Sleep and a Forgetting, A

Year: 2000
Duration: 52 min
Genre: Alternate History
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Michael Cassutt and Yuri Rasovsky (as Ytzhak Berle)
Story by: Robert Silverberg, 1989

Scientists trying to correct radio transmission problems with Icarus, a French/Japanese satellite inside the orbit of Mercury, unexpectedly initiate communication with a man who calls himself Temüjin and speaks in an archaic Mongolian dialect common in the 13th century.

With René Auberjonois (Mike, the professor), Kaitlin Hopkins (Elaine, Mike's wife), Allan Miller (Joe, a researcher), Rosemary Alexander (Carly, a researcher), and Robertson Dean (Temüjin).

Reviews:
This episode just rubbed me the wrong way. The relationship between the two main characters was abrasive; there was a long scene where the back-story was revealed over dinner... while everyone talked with their mouths full of food; and the theme seemed to be: "What a wonderful world it would be if only those nasty Arabs had been Christian." Maybe I'm over-reacting. Would love to read a review from someone who really enjoyed this episode! Aside from those objections, though, the pacing, acting, music, and audio quality were all excellent. [6/10] --- zM

Survey, The

Year: 2000
Duration: 9 min
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Anonymous

Fanny Billingsgate, an 87-year old woman knitting on the porch of her modest, small-town house, is approached by an alien who is taking a survey. "Could you just tell us a little bit about yourself... your core belief system... and how you implement that system?"

With Janet Carroll (Fanny) and Ira Burton (interviewer).

Reviews:

Thing Happens, The

aka: "The Thing Happens: A.D. 2170"
Year: 2000
Duration: 57 min
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: George Bernard Shaw, 1921

Back to Methuselah (A Metabiological Pentateuch) is an epic story by George Bernard Shaw consisting of a Preface and an interconnected series of five plays. The premise is that the biological driving force is not Darwinian 'evolution' but Lamarckian 'adaptation'—a process which is controlled through will and necessity. In the second play (The Gospel of the Brothers Barnabas: Present Day), the Barnabas Brothers speculate that if mankind is to save itself, it will be necessary for humans to adapt and extend their lifetimes to 300 years. The third play (The Thing Happens: A.D. 2170) begins when this... this thing... has happened. A few people have covertly willed themselves long lifetimes.

With Peter Dennis (President of British Islands), Ian Abercrombie (Barnabas, Accountant General), Tony Jay (Confucius, Chief Secretary), David Warner (Archbishop of York), and Jane Carr (Mrs Lutestring, Domestic Minister).

Reading Link: "The Thing Happens: A.D. 2170", contained in _Back to Methuselah: A Metabiological Pentateuch_ by George Bernard Shaw, available at Project Gutenberg.

Reviews:

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow

aka: "The Big Trip Up Yonder"
Year: 2000
Duration: 27 min
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Yuri Rasovsky
Story by: Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., 1954

A dystopian tale of the future in which the drug 'anti-gerasone' is used to halt the aging process. The drug eliminates death by old age... as long as those taking the drug continue to take it. As a result, the Earth suffers from massive over-population and the depletion of natural resources.

With Tom Poston (Lou), Marian Mercer (Em), and Hamilton Camp (gramps). Also with Phil Proctor, Laura Kellogg, and Ira Burton.

Reading Link: "The Big Trip Up Yonder", by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr, available at Project Gutenberg.

Reviews:

Vaster Than Empires and More Slow

Year: 2000
Duration: 57 min
Genre: Creatures
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: Carol Madden Adorjan
Story by: Ursula K. Le Guin, 1971
Awards: Hugo, 1972 (nom)

A team of misfit explorers lands on a planet that is one vast living—and frightened—organism.

With Robert Foxworth () and William Sanderson (). Also with Lorna Raver, Ira Burton, Robertson Dean, Harlan Ellison, Joe Greco, and Amy Van Horne.

Reviews:

Watchbird

Year: 2000
Duration: 29 min
Genre: Future Earth, Robots
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Adapted by: William F. Nolan and Yuri Rasovsky (as Ytzhak Berle)
Story by: Robert Sheckley, 1953

Scientists have discovered that murderers' brain waves, just before they commit murder, are slightly different from normal brainwaves and that these differences can be measured. Corporate engineers use this knowledge to design flying machines that soar above the city and monitor the brainwaves of every person walking the streets; when abnormal brainwaves are detected the watchbirds sweep into action. Unfortunately, not all murderers exhibit these brainwaves... so the final watchbird design includes learning circuits which allow the watchbirds to expand their definition of murder...

With Gerald Castillo (Charlie Gelson [chief], CEO), Newell Alexander (Joshua McIntire [Mac], engineer), Joe Greco (Cpt. Landry), Allan Miller (Seltrix, homicide detective), Melissa Greenspan (watchbird), and Janet Carroll (hawk). Also with Stefan Rudnicki (federal official), Hamilton Camp, Brian Finney, and Brad Schreiber.

Versions were produced for 2000x, SF 68 and Tales of Tomorrow.

Reviews:
A morality play about the dangers of allowing intelligent machines to make moral decisions that should rightfully be made by humans. All three versions are well-written and well-produced. The 2000x version has, by far, the best soundscape. The Tales of Tomorrow version has the most detail and is most true to the written story. [2000x] This is my favourite version. Brilliant soundscape and excellent acting by Melissa Greenspan as the watchbird. Some detail is sacrificed compared to the written story, but Rasovsky makes up for it with changes of pace and interludes where the watchbird soars, observes... and attacks. The conclusion in foregone, but the beauty of this tale is in the journey. 2000x [7/10]; SF 68 [6.5/10]; Tales of Tomorrow [7/10] --- zM

Why Support for Public Radio Must Increase in the Next Century

aka: "Why Support for Public Radio Must Increase in the New Century"
Year: 2000
Duration: 5 min
Genre: Aliens, Humour
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Yuri Rasovsky

An alien makes an emergency landing on Earth. All he wants to do is fix his spacecraft and leave... but he keeps getting interrupted by humans who want to know what he's doing. If he could just find a good mechanic...

With Tom Towles (alien). Also with Ira Burton, Hamilton Camp, John O'Hurley, Laura Kellogg, Tom Magliozzi, and John Schuck.

Reviews:
A funny flash story with a great twist ending. [7/10] --- zM

CAST

SCRIPT WRITERS

CREW

Executive Producers
Andy Trudeau, Stefan Rudnicki
Project Director / Producer
Yuri Rasovsky
Principle Engineer
Warren Dewey
Announcer
Robert Foxworth
Host and Consultant
Harlan Ellison
Engineers
Jamie Cerniglia, Henry Howard, Dave Maiden, Jim McKee, Craig Sadler, Chris Tsakis, Manoli Wetherell
Composer of series theme music
Jerry Summers
Business Advisor
John N. Tierney
Music Library
ProMusic
Additional music
Fred Koella
Foley Walkers
David L. Krebs, Monique Reymond, Jode Ryskiewicz