Mindwebs

is not really audio drama in the strict sense of the definition. This 1970s series out of WHA Radio in Madison, Wisconsin featured weekly readings of science fiction stories by some of the genre's best writers. Nevertheless, since many of the readings were enhanced by music, periodic sound cues, and the occasional character voice, I consider them 'semi-dramatized', and therefore meriting inclusion on this site. Besides, the music was so well written, and the performance of Michael Hanson, the reader, so evocative of each story's mood, that the result was often better than most fully dramatized productions of the period.

Update: According to Michael Hanson there were 169 half-hour shows which presented 188 short stories from 135 different authors. The series ran from April of 1975 until early 1984. Mr. Hanson personally selected the music from a huge range of classical, jazz, pop, rock, electronic, etc., recordings (LP's by the way). All the editing was done via the now antiquated 'cut-and-splice' method. He was backed by some marvellously adept technicians who were of enormous assistance; they were always identified at the end of each broadcast.


The roots of Mindwebs lie far back in WHA's history. According to local legend, sometime during the early 1920s a scheduled guest failed to appear at the appointed hour. The announcer on duty reached into his bag, pulled out a book (you carry a book everywhere you go, don't you?) and started reading to his listeners to avoid dead-air time. Listener response was enthusiastic. It took several years for this seed to germinate, but sometime around 1927 Chapter a Day sprouted. It's been growing in fits and starts ever since and can still be heard today. The experience that the WHA staff gained while producing Chapter a Day—editing for 30-minute time slots, choosing stories that dramatize well on radio, using voice inflection and altering pace to shape mood, cutting-and-splicing to create smooth transitions—undoubtedly lead to a successful Mindwebs production.

Michael Hanson, who never read for Chapter a Day, read most of the Mindwebs stories, but he was often assissted by others. (A complete list appears at the bottom of this page.) Some of those readers: Jay Meredith Fitts, Jim Fleming, Ken Ohrst, Cliff Roberts, and Karl Schmidt read for Chapter a Day at one time or another. In fact, as of 2016, Jim Fleming and Karl Schmidt still read for Chapter a Day!

Paraphrased from 9XM Talking: WHA Radio and the Wisconsin Idea at the University of Wisconsin Press.


Mr Hanson first started at Wisconsin Public Radio in 1958, as a 17-year-old part-timer. For the next four decades, with only a brief absence here and there, Hanson hosted jazz programs on WPR, shows with titles like "Asylum", "Round Midnight", "Contemporary Jazz", "Mindwebs" and "Michael Hanson's World of Jazz".

Hanson once explained his passion for jazz like this: "I grew up hearing a lot of music, live performances and recordings. As much as I respect other types of music, jazz somehow grabbed me hard, early." He continued: "Part of it was hearing 'West End Blues' by Louis Armstrong, and the great Lester Young leaps in with the Count Basie Band, and Duke Ellington's 'Chelsea Bridge' and Gene Krupa's 'Sing, Sing, Sing' and Miles Davis' 'Funny Valentine.'"

When Hanson stepped away from WPR in 2000, I asked Ben Sidran about Michael's contribution, and Sidran said: "The radio has always been very important to jazz. Particularly late at night. Hearing jazz, when you're home alone, or in your car, it leaves a lot to your imagination. It's romantic. And the voice that brings you that music provides context for the romance. Michael has one of the most romantic jazz voices ever. He provided the context."

From Doug Moe host.madison.com, 2008-10-12.


"To the Editor: During the course of my public radio career (1958-2000), many changes occurred, not all of them positive. Among the most noxious and divisive were those encouraged by the work of David Giovannoni and his ilk. His claim that he is "not saying that program directors should make programming decisions based on how much money they're likely to raise" is disingenuous at best. It is precisely because of the numbers game that program directors have increasingly been turned into sycophantic bean counters.

The unending quest for ever larger audiences has often led to a pronounced dumbing down of program content as well as an increased reliance on unctuous pandering, especially during fund drives ('We know you are a bright, sensitive, curious listener, so call us now').

Alas, the tail wags the dog.

MICHAEL HANSON Madison, Wis."

The writer was an announcer, host and producer for Wisconsin Public Radio. --- New York Times, 2001-11-25.


Michael Hanson (Mindwebs) and Carol Cowan (Mindwebs; A Canticle for Leibowitz) can be heard on several copyrighted audiobooks which may be purchased through downpour (formerly Blackstone). The current selection includes: The Bad Place, Hideaway, and Cold Fire (all by Dean Koontz and featuring Michael Hanson and Carol Cowan) and Murder on the Run and Money to Burn (both by Gloria White and featuring Carol Cowan).


To the best of my knowledge this series is under copyright protection, but is neither available for purchase nor ever likely to be. This is pure speculation on my part, but I suspect that the agreement among WHA radio, hundreds of authors, and dozens of record labels was for a one-off production. Nobody ever expected the shows to be taped and distributed. If you look at the Chapter a Day website, you will find the following note: "Due to publisher and copyright restrictions, archives are only available for one week after a book is read on the air." It seems likely that a similar agreement would have existed in 1975. (Keep in mind that Federal copyright law was expanded in 1972 to include sound recordings; prior to this sound recordings were protected by State copyright laws, and so protection was rather hit-and-miss.)

Nevertheless, it appears that the copyright is currently not being enforced, and copies of most of the shows can be found in Darkman's collection at the Internet Archive.

Sources used to create my own log and double-check titles, dates and cast members: correspondence with Michael Hanson, Internet Speculative Fiction Database, 9XM Talking: WHA Radio and the Wisconsin Idea, Chapter a Day, New York Times, host.madison.com, correspondence with WHA Radio, and correspondence with Dag Forssell.

Currently this archive contains 168 of 188 plotlines and 37 reviews

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Absalom

Year: 1976
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Henry Kuttner

Due to mutations that occur every generation, children are becoming smarter than their parents before them. When a son intellectually surpasses his father at age eight, what are the implications? See also Star Bright (X Minus One) and A Child Is Crying (Mindwebs)

Adam and No Eve

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Alfred Bester

When an energy conversion experiment goes awry, the earth is turned into an ash-filled landscape. The last man on earth—the person responsible—starts a dogged journey to the sea to set things right.

Affair with a Green Monkey

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Theodore Sturgeon

A nurse and her husband (a rehabilitation expert for the government) rescue a man from a brutal mob beating. The husband explains that mobs attack people who appear different because they think that anything different is dangerous... and this young man certainly appears different.

After the Myths Went Home

Year: 1977
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Silverberg

Millennia from now, the bored human race amuse themselves by 'resurrecting' the great heroes and myths out of history and imagination.

Allegory

Year: 1976
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Super Science
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: William T. Powers (aka: Bill Powers)

An inventor seeking to patent his anti-gravity device comes up against a bureaucracy convinced that such a device is scientifically impossible.

Reviews:
A brilliantly sarcastic example of what happens when the irresistible force of innovative, cutting-edge science runs smack dab into the immovable object of bureaucracy. At the time when Powers wrote this he was developing his own cutting-edge ideas which he calls Perceptual Control Theory (PCT). Perhaps the story is... well... an allegory? [8/10] --- zM

Apartment Hunting

Year: 1978
Duration: 20 min
Genre: Future Earth/Dystopia
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Harvey Bilker and Audrey Bilker

In an overcrowded future, a young couple achieve the right to their own apartment—if they can carve through the red tape in time to kill its present occupant before the deadline.

Apple

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: John Baxter

In a time when miners tunnel into giant apples to collect the creamy, ripe flesh, others seek to keep the miners safe by destroying the moths that hide within.

Reviews:
Amazing descriptive imagery. I keep washing my hands to rid myself of the sticky-sweet juice stuck between my fingers and under my nails; I tread lightly to avoid sinking to my knees in a brown bog of decaying apple pulp. Yech. Concludes with some nice fighting-moth action. [8/10] --- zM

Available Data on the Worp Reaction, The

Year: 1983
Duration: 10 min
Genre: Super Science
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Lion Miller

At six years old, the mentally challenged Aldus Worp begins collecting parts from the city dump. Nearly twenty years later, something miraculous happens.

Beachhead in Utopia

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Future Earth/Dystopia
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Lloyd Biggle, Jr.

In the past 10 years, the International Poverty Control Agency has made great progress toward eliminating all poverty. William Zarney, however, has not been able to find work for 2 years. Something must be done about it.

Beyond the Wall of Sleep

Year: 1976; 1983
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Supernatural
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: H.P. Lovecraft

An intern at a mental hospital relates his experience with an inmate and explores the notion that dreams, although often mundane, can sometimes reveal a separate mental realm.

Bible after Apocalypse, The

Year: 1982
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Aliens, War
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Laurence M. Janifer

A part of New Jersey, a suburb of Cleveland, and a small town in the state of Washington become three columns of smoke as ships begin landing from the Crab Nebula.

Born of Man and Woman

Year: 1977
Duration: 14 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Richard Matheson
Awards: Hugo-retro (nom), 2001; SFWA - Hall of Fame, 1970

A classic story of a malformed youth kept locked in a cellar by his own horrified parents.

Brink of Infinity, The

Year: 1977
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Stanley Weinbaum

A mathematician is held captive by a madman who demands he solve an impossible equation or be killed.

Builder, The

Year: 19xx
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Philip K. Dick

In 1950s suburbia, Elwood—a man who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and shuns most people—builds a boat in his backyard, to the annoyance of his wife and neighbors.

But as a Soldier, For His Country

Year: 19xx
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Speculative/Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Stephen Goldin

Two career soldiers agree to re-enlist and enrol in an experimental program—they get a couple of months' leave and a bonus, and when they return to base they are cryogenically frozen until needed for the next war. When resurrected, they fight another war and then re-enlist... fight another war and re-enlist. Eventually science progresses to the point where are no longer frozen. Instead, their minds are recorded and their bodies are reconstructed when needed.

Reviews:
This story is told as as series of flashbacks. Some of the transitions are a little rough, so it's not always obvious if you are in the present or the past, which is a little disorienting. However, the story is interesting and the audio quality is good. So, as the story plods along, it gently pulls you along with it. By the time you finally figure out where the story is going, you're at the surprise ending. Not bad. [7/10] --- zM

Cage, The

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Aliens, Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: A. Bertram Chandler

The space exploration vessel Lode Star, crash lands on a distant world far from the space lanes. After several years, the survivors are 'rescued' by aliens who think they are indigenous animals. Without the power of language, however, how can they communicate to their wholly-alien captors that they are rational beings and don't deserve to be kept in cages?

Versions were produced for Mindwebs and SF 68.

Reviews:
Very poor audio quality. The main difference between the Mindwebs and SF 68 versions is that the Mindwebs version is a reading while the SF 68 version is a dramatization. Within that context, both are quite true to the original story. The Mindwebs version, however, focuses on the primitive conditions that the survivors endure, whereas the SF 68 version focuses more on the conditions after their captivity. Both versions have the same great ending... an ending that answers the question: what universal behaviour is manifested by all rational beings? I prefer the Mindwebs version because the sound quality is far, far better and the 'reading' format allows greater descriptive detail to be presented. Mindwebs [7/10]; SF 68 [6/10] --- zM

Carcinoma Angels

Year: 1977
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Norman Spinrad

A wealthy entrepreneur who has conquered every challenge life has to offer takes on his own mortality when he discovers he has cancer.

Reviews:
Just loved the imagery of Harrison Wintergreen, supreme egotist, turning his scheming mind away from the external universe, toward the inner—to where he can ride the highways of his circulatory system... seeking out and battling the leering, red-eyed, black-clad, motorcycle-riding Carcinoma Angels. [8/10] --- zM

Castaway, The

aka: "Castaway"
Year: 1977
Duration: 18 min
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Charles E. Fritch

A futuristic Robinson Crusoe crash lands on a planet of eternal daylight, which makes the passage of time hard to quantify. He begins to measure his stay in a different manner.

Cephes 5

Year: 1976
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Howard Fast (author of Spartacus)

A green space officer seeks out a venerable old counselor to help dispel his feelings that something is wrong onboard their starship. Instead of solace, however, the counselor can only offer a disturbing revelation.

Child Is Crying, A

Year: 1977
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: John D. MacDonald

A nervous military gets their hands on a freaky 7 year old boy who has an IQ well above Einstein's, an ability to calculate the future, and his own intentions for how that future will play out. See also Star Bright (X Minus One) and Absalom (Mindwebs)

Computers Don't Argue

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Gordon Dickson
Awards: Nebula (nom), 1966

A disagreement with his book club over an undue charge ignites a series of tragi-comical events that eventually lands Mr. Walter A. Child on death row.

Reviews:
Love these humorous stories about individuals getting caught in the cogs of bureaucracy. I could sense the outcome within the first few hostile exchanges, but it didn't detract from the wonderful irony. If you enjoy this one, you might also enjoy "Allegory", "Beachhead in Utopia" and "Kellerman's Eyepiece". [8/10] --- zM

Corrida

Year: 1976
Duration: 8 min
Genre: Creatures, Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Roger Zelazny

A story of a man tormented by a thing.

Country of the Kind, The

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Damon Knight
Awards: SFWA - Hall of Fame, 1970

In a world where violence and crime have been almost totally eliminated, a man engages in antisocial behavior.

Crisis

Year: 19xx
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Edward Grendon

Earthmen meet to study a proposal from an alien race; the aliens wish to send an ambassador to Earth to see if Earth is mature enough for long-term interstellar contact. Should Earth accept the proposal at face value?

Day of the Butterflies, The

Year: 1977
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Fantasy
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Marion Zimmer Bradley

A farm girl working in Manhattan starts to imagine the city is being invaded by the country.

Descending

Year: 1977
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Thomas Disch

A man finds himself on a series of escalators that only go down and seemingly don't lead anywhere.

Desertion

Year: 1982
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Clifford Simak

Four men have been transformed into native Jovian life forms and sent from the protective dome to explore the surface of Jupiter. None have returned.

Devil Car

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Dystopian Future
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Roger Zelazny
Awards: Nebula (nom), 1966

To avenge the death of his brother, Sam Murdock and his death-car Jenny seek out the evil Black Caddy and its pack of wild cars.

Reviews:
Murdock and his sentient car, Jenny, have to track down the leader of a herd of wild cars gone bad. How bad? These sentient cars have been killing off their drivers with carbon monoxide so they are free to roam the canyons of the West, killing off pedestrians and stealing fuel. The devil car of the title, a black caddy, has eluded all attempts at capture so far - he's tricky, keeping a corpse in his driver's seat so he looks tame. --- Anon

There's plenty of car-vs.-car action (Jenny is not only sentient, but well-armed), a tongue-in-cheek post-apocalyptic Old West feel, and some poignant moments as Jenny vacillates between her admiration for the Devil Car and her duty to serve her driver, Murdock. This story was probably one of the main inspirations for Steve Jackson's game Car Wars, which introduced the notion that "the right of way goes to the biggest guns." "Devil Car" is a fine example of the fun sub-genre of science fiction I call the post-apocalyptic car-centered road warrior stories. If you like it, check out similar stories by other authors, such as Why Johnny Can't Speed and Along the Scenic Route (I think one of these is Harlan Ellison's). --- Anonymous

All in all, an interesting take on what would happen if automobiles were granted the ability to think, and act on their own. A well written story, but I didn't think very highly of the main, come to that, the only featured human character. He reminded me a little too much of the crazy captain looking for the infamous white whale. I half expected him to start screaming, "From the heart of Hell, I stab at thee! For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee!" And the way he treated his car, come on. I was hoping something would happen to him from the half way point in the story, on up. --- Fallen Angel

Doing Lennon

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Time Travel
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Gregory Benford
Awards: Hugo (nom), 1966; Nebula (nom), 1966

A man comes up with a scheme to emerge from cryogenic sleep as rock-legend John Lennon. But can he fool the people in the year 2108 (or is it 2180?) and live out his dream?

Don't Look Now

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Mars, Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Henry Kuttner

A drunk in a bar harasses a fellow patron with warnings about Martians who are secretly controlling the world.

Dream at Noonday, A

Year: 1977
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Gardner Dozois
Awards: Nebula (nom), 1971

A man drifts between recollections of his childhood and observations of his present situation. The prose is dream-like, almost hypnotic in its effect, with an overall impact that may well stay with you for a lifetime... or not.

Dreamworld

Year: 1982
Duration: 8 min
Genre: Fantasy
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Isaac Asimov

A young boy immerses himself in daydreaming and fantasy, much to the chagrin of his aunt who is trying to raise him by rule and rod and pious memory of her deceased sister. "Face reality, Eddie", she constantly tells him.

Earthmen Bearing Gifts

Year: 1979
Duration: 9 min
Genre: Mars, Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Fredric Brown

The last of the dying Martians anticipate the arrival of the first explorers from Earth.

Eel, The

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Miriam Allen DeFord

The Eel is a super-thief whose eventual capture has been an eagerly anticipated event on a dozen worlds across half the galaxy. The politicians, lawyers and bureaucrats have all been drooling over the opportunity to exact a lengthy and unpleasant vengeance... but will they manage to convict and punish him? The Eel did not earn his name for nothing...

Reviews:
Michael Hanson seemed to have perfected the art of picking excellent stories. Such is the case here, where an interstellar criminal, who might as well have been a contemporary of Jabba The Hutt, is put on trial until he final figures out how to work his final angle... --- Anonymous

En Passant

Year: 1982
Duration: 18 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Britt Schweitzer

Suddenly, and without warning, a man loses his head and struggles to remain calm.

End, The

Year: 1983
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ursula Le Guin

While the members of a small seaside community kill their animals, destroy their possessions, and prepare for The End, a lone man wonders if maybe this isn't The End and life can continue in the guessed-at islands beyond the horizon.

End-of-the-World Rag, The

aka: "The End-of-the-World Rag"
Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Jack C. Haldeman II

A rambling reminiscence about how Apathy killed incentive, desire, love, and everything we ever really cared about.

Enormous Radio, The

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: John Cheever

A couple's broken radio starts picking up conversations from elsewhere in their apartment block, and they can hardly resist becoming voyeurs into the sordid privacies of their neighbours.

Eternal Machines, The

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: William Spencer
Awards: Nebula (nom), 1967

A hermit with a poetic soul takes sole custodianship of a junk planet—the garbage dump of the galaxy—in order to build an eternal monument to his creative urges.

Eurema's Dam

Year: 1983
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: R.A. Lafferty
Awards: Hugo, 1973

He was the last of the dolts—the last of dumb kids. But, sometimes, stupidity is the mother of invention. Hugo winner, 1973.

Ever-Branching Tree, The

Year: 1976
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Time Travel
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Harry Harrison

A teacher takes his class on a field trip through time to explore the origins of life.

Reviews:
A very disappointing story that fails to evoke a strong enough sense-of-wonder or emotional connection to compensate for its lack of action and suspense. --- Dave Tackett

Evergreen Library, The

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Bill Pronzini and Jeffrey Wallmann

After Pruett Evergreen dies, his lawyer visits the Evergreen Estate to make sure everything is in order prior to passing on the bulk of the property, including the library, to the Enchiridion Society—a European group that has something to do with books.

Exhibition, The

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Scott Edelstein

William Francis Howell Markem, ident-a-gram 5551070023, is one of 8,997,020 living impressionist painters. He is still on the dole... which means he is an unknown... which means he is a failure... But he has just painted his 105th painting and if he can sell it, he just might become a Recognized Artist.

Final Exam

Year: 19xx
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Chad Oliver

The Advanced Martian History class from the American Academy take a field trip to see 'real live Martians'—the last of a dying race—and to witness an ancient ritual called The Death Dance. To the culturally myopic students, the Martians appear funny, childlike, quaint, and crazy. They're in for a surprise.

Reviews:
In some ways similar to the classic Bradbury tale "And the Moon Be Still as Bright", but in other ways quite different. I can't go into details without spoiling the plot, but definitely worth listening to. The closing music is wistful and melancholic—reminiscent of Kitaro or Tomita, though I can't quite place it—and evokes the restless clash of incompatible cultures. [7/10] --- zM

Fly, The

Year: 1978
Duration: 9 min
Genre: Creatures
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arthur Porges

A prospector, while taking a break for lunch, notices a spiderweb and watches an ancient, unfolding drama between spider and fly. But there is something strange about that fly.

Fog Horn, The

Year: 1977
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Creatures
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ray Bradbury

A lighthouse's lonely fog horn calls up a primeval horror out of the depths.

A version of this story was produced by the BBC. Also served as the inspiration for the film The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.

Reviews:
Some stories have great action. Some, charming dialog. The essence of this story is its descriptive imagery. This is not a Horror story—at least not in the usual sense—it is a story about 'the sadness of eternity and the briefness of life'. If you are the sort of person who can grieve for Grendel's mother, then this story is for you. Michael Hanson is perfect in this role: mournful and forlorn. [8/10] --- zM

Food Farm, The

Year: 1977
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Kit Reed

Nelly is a very big girl, and that's just how Tommy Fango likes them.

Funny Farm, The

Year: 1977
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Supernatural
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Bloch

When attempting to rob an eccentric comic book collector, a thief encounters some unexpected complications.

Game for Motel Room

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Fritz Leiber

After spending a satisfying night together, a man listens to his lover tell a bizarre tale about her life and her relationship with her husband.

Garden of Time, The

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Fantasy
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: J.G. Ballard

An aristocratic couple try to keep history's destructive tide of humanity at bay.

Gas Mask

Year: 1983
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: James D. Houston

One summer afternoon, at about 5:30, the eight lanes of traffic around Charlie Bates slowed to a creep and finally to a standstill. Gridlock. How long will it take to get moving again when there is nowhere to go? And what should Charlie Bates do in the meantime?

Gift, The

Year: 1977
Duration: 7 min
Genre: Mars
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ray Bradbury

On a trip to Mars, parents plan a special Christmas gift for their son.

Great Slow Kings, The

Year: 1979
Duration: 20 min
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Roger Zelazny

Twin reptilian monarchs who have lost their kingdom and all their subjects, save for one robot servant, ponder searching the galaxy for new subjects... but their painfully slow metabolisms make the effort difficult, to say the least.

Reviews:
Great use of irony! The contrast between the deliberate reptilian dialog and the urgency of the necessary action is quite amusing. The background music is well chosen and underscores the timelessness of the ruler's reign. Very nicely done. [8/10] --- zM

Gun without a Bang, The

Year: 1982
Duration: 20 min
Genre: Super Science
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Sheckley

Dixon had ventured far from his spaceship and knew he was being followed, but he wasn't worried. He was a great believer in personal armament, and he was carrying The Weapon. He was protected. Why look for fuzzy economic, philosophical or political reasons when everything was so simple?

Hall of Machines, The

Year: 1977
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Langdon Jones

A lengthy narrative describing the mechanical wonders of a repository of ancient machines whose purpose has long been forgotten.

Reviews:
Intolerably dull. --- Jeff Dickson

Hands of the Man

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi, Crime
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: R.A. Lafferty

A 'spotter' encounters a 'sky man' in a tavern and engages in a tricky and delicate negotiation for the sale and delivery of the truly impressive ring which the sky man is wearing.

Happily Ever After

Year: 1977
Duration: 11 min
Genre: Creatures
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: William F. Nolan

A newly married couple settle on their own asteroid. Features music of Isao Tomita.

Harrison Bergeron

Year: 1977
Duration: 18 min
Genre: Future Earth, Dystopia
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Classic story of a rebel in an age whose political correctness has lead to a fanatical devotion to the lowest common denominator.

Haunted Space Suit, The

aka: "Who's There?'
Year: 1977
Duration: 13 min
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arthur C. Clarke

An astronaut on a spacewalk is convinced that something is trying to get into his spacesuit.

Helen O'Loy

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Robots
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Lester del Rey
Awards: SFWA - Hall of Fame, 1970

Two young men collaborate on modifying a household robot—originally meant only to cook food and clean—in order to allow it to have emotions.

Hell-Bound Train, The

aka: "That Hell-Bound Train'
Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Supernatural
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Bloch
Awards: Hugo, 1959

A young drifter makes a deal with the Devil and promises to ride the Hell-bound train when the time comes. Hugo winner, 1959.

Reviews:
A good story with another strong performance by Michael Hanson. My copy of this story has many skips in the recording—each from a few words to several sentences long—which made following the story extremely difficult. (I finally had to download the text and read along.) Several references are made to the song 'Hell-Bound Train'. I believe this is a nod to Chuck Berry and his song 'Downbound Train', recorded in 1955 and released as the B-side to 'No Money Down' three years before this story was written. However, as near as I can tell, Berry did not write the lyrics—they are from a much older poem dating at least to the late 1800s and possibly much earlier. [7/10] --- zM

I Kill Myself

Year: 1977
Duration: 20 min
Genre: Super Science
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Julian Kawalec

A scientist involved in the creation of an ultimate weapon begins to suffer pangs of conscience.

I See You

Year: 19xx
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Super Science
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Damon Knight
Awards: Hugo (nom), 1977

A research engineer invents, produces, and distributes 'distant viewers' which allow users to see and hear anything across time and space: police monitor dissidents, dissidents monitor politicians, politicians monitor police. And so begins an era of absolute surveillance in which privacy and secrets no longer exist. But if there are no secrets, can crime and war survive?

Reviews:
An interesting premise which suffers from poor execution. The story of 'your' life is interspersed with a series of flashbacks which describe the invention and history of the 'distant viewer'. The historical account is dry and monotonous; 'your' life adds a personal, humanizing element. Both threads of the story are interesting, but don't really lead anywhere. The concluding remarks suggest a world of telepathy and instant communication where there is no crime or war, but don't explicitly state this and so everything is left open-ended and subject to your own interpretation. (If you'd like to explore the effect of telepathy and instant communication on crime and war, I suggest Spider Robinson's Deathkiller trilogy.) [6/10] --- zM

Icebox Blonde, The

Year: 1976
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Robots
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Thomas N. Scortia

A stodgy husband is forced to confront his conservative mores when his wife has an affair, and the local supermarket is selling female androids in its freezer section.

Impostor

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Future Earth, Aliens, War
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Philip K. Dick

Story of a future weapons scientist working to save Earth from an alien invasion who finds himself accused of being an alien changeling, a clone with a ticking time bomb in his body.

A version of this story was produced by Sci-Fi Radio. Also provided the basis for a movie of the same name.

In the Abyss

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: H.G. Wells

An undersea explorer uses a modified diving bell to descend to the bottom of the ocean where he makes an extraordinary discover.

Reviews:
An adequate but forgettable story, helped by better than average reading/voice acting. It does interestingly, in some ways, anticipate the undersea horrors that H. P. Lovecraft would later describe. --- Dave Tackett

In the Imagicon

Year: 1976
Duration: 17 min
Genre: Super Science
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: George Henry Smith
Awards: Nebula, 1967

Isolated on a cold and desolate colony world and nagged by a shrewish wife, a husband's only escape is through a virtual reality machine. Nebula winner, 1967.

Infinity of Loving, An

Year: 1983
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: David Gerrold

Two young lovers, lucky to fall in love, fear that their love for each other will fail and so seek a means of joining that love together for all eternity.

Kaleidoscope

Year: 1977
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ray Bradbury

When a meteor destroys a spaceship, its crew is hurled outward into space in a dozen directions. Their suit radios will maintain contact range for only a few hours. What do men talk about when death is imminent?

Versions of this story also appeared on Bradbury 13, Dimension X, Mindwebs, Suspense, and The Shape of Things to Come (BBC).

See also 'Program Completed' (Miscellaneous Shows)

Kellerman's Eyepiece

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Mary Elizabeth Counselman

Cyrus Kellerman orders a telescope eyepiece through the mail, only to find it discontinued. The newer model sent to him by the telescope company, however, seems to pick up more than just stars and moon craters. Like Allegory and Computers Don't Argue, this story was written in the brilliant form of back and forth correspondence.

King of the Beasts, The

Year: 1978
Duration: 7 min
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Philip Jose Farmer

A biologist of the future recreates extinct animals for a zoo/laboratory... including the most dangerous animal of them all.

Knock

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Fredric Brown

"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 Mary Armantrout (Grace), also heard in "Prez" and "The Night He Cried".

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.

Language of Love, The

Year: 1981
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Sheckley

Story of a young lover, frustrated by his inability to articulate his love fully and precisely, who travels to the planet Tyana II to learn the 'Language of Love'.

Last Ghost, The

Year: 1979
Duration: 20 min
Genre: Ghosts
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Stephen Goldin
Awards: Nebula (nom), 1972

Eternity is a terrible place to endure alone. Especially when memory has failed and thought processes have nearly ceased. The last ghost struggles with... he searches for... he wants a... he desires some... he loves to....

Letter to a Phoenix

Year: 1982
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Fredric Brown

A retrospective on the human race from a man who has lived 180,000 years.

Liberators, The

Year: 19xx
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Future Earth, Dystopia
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Lee Harding

In the far distant future, a group of people awoken from the dream tanks flee the City, whose A.I. brain needs them to provide it with a human soul.

Reviews:
Excellent story, with an ethereal, melancholy score by Tangerine Dream that is perfectly suited to the mood of the tale. One of the best of the series. --- Jeff Dickson

Light of Other Days

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Bob Shaw
Awards: Hugo (nom), 1967; Nebula (nom), 1967

A couple driving through the country notice a sign and stop at a farm advertising 'slow glass' for sale.

Reviews:
This Hugo-nominated short story from 1966 was written by Bob Shaw and introduces the concept of 'slow glass' - which I won't spoil for you. As usual, Michael Hanson manages to project the anger, frustration, bitterness, and longing of the characters he portrays even while mixing it with wonder and heart-breaking love. A powerful ending provides much to think about. [9/10] --- zM

Look Homeward, Spaceman

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Silverberg

Paul Robinson returns home on a 2-day furlough after 6 years in space and is surprised at what he finds.

Machine in Shaft Ten, The

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: John Harrison (as Joyce Churchill)

The discovery of a vast underground machine complex sends civilization into a frenzy of hysteria, despair, social upheaval and religious chaos. Apparently the Machine has been recording human emotions throughout history and transmitting their energy to some distant point in space. The scientist responsible for the discovery resolves to shut the complex down, regardless of what consequence might come of it when the Makers stop receiving...

See also The Sky Was Full of Ships (Mindwebs)

Man from Earth, The

Year: 1976
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Gordon Dickson

When the first Earthman arrives on the capital world of galactic civilization, he unwittingly commits an offence that could cost him his life.

Man Who Returned, The

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Edmond Hamilton

An invalid awakens to discover he has been buried alive.

Martian El Dorado of Parker Wintley, The

Year: 1976
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Mars, Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Lin Carter

Parker Wintley is out of money, but not of luck or charm. He has secured a claim on a remote area of Mars where a cache of diamonds is ripe for the taking—if he can con them from the natives.

Maze, The

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Super Science
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Stuart Dybek

Through the use of radioactively-induced mutation and chemically-altered DNA, a researcher attempts to expand intelligence. He uses a maze to provide controlled problems of survival and a method of measuring, testing and selecting those mice that have been successful.

Meeting, The

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Frederik Pohl
Awards: Hugo, 1973

Harry Vladik struggles with possible futures for his developmentally challenged child. Hugo winner, 1973.

Metal Man, The

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Jack Williamson

Prof. Thomas Kelvin of the Geology Department of Tyburn College undertakes a solo expedition to find the source of El Rio de la Sangre and, hopefully, deposits of radium-bearing minerals that make the river radioactive.

Midnight Express

Year: 1976
Duration: 12 min
Genre: Fantasy
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Alfred Noyes

Fantasy and reality become blurred in a dream about a stranger at a dark train station.

Moth Race

Year: 1976
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Future Earth, Dystopia
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Richard Hill

A future society of drug-induced pacifists finds emotional release through the minds and feelings of champions willing to risk their lives in a deadly game of car vs. computer.

My Object All Sublime

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Time Travel
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Poul Anderson

An evening's musings between friends on time travel takes an unpleasant turn.

Reviews:
A slow-moving tale with almost no action. Drinks, cigars, and a late-night rambling discussion are followed by a surprisingly strong ending. The title, by the way, is a reference to song No. 6 in the Gilbert and Sullivan opera The Mikado. [8/10] --- zM

My object all sublime
I shall achieve in time—
To let the punishment fit the crime—
The punishment fit the crime;
And make each prisoner pent
Unwillingly represent
A source of innocent merriment!
Of innocent merriment!

Nackles

Year: 1980
Duration: 20 min
Genre: Fantasy
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Donald E. Westlake (as Curt Clark)

Does God create Men, or does Man create gods? It might seem an academic question, but it seems that nearly every god has a corresponding devil. And if Man does create his own gods... then I guess the next question would be whether Santa Claus is a god?

Nature Boy

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Josephine Saxton

A somewhat surreal psychological tale about... er... about... Actually I have no idea what this story is about. Sorry.

Night He Cried, The

Year: 19xx
Duration: 20 min
Genre: Aliens, Humour
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Fritz Leiber

A parody in which a peace-loving alien from Galactic Center attempts to reform a misogynistic man named Slickey Millane.

With Mary Armantrout (alien), also heard in "Knock" and "Prez".

Reviews:
A wonderfully light-hearted satire of the hard-boiled detective genre characterized by Mickey Spillane in his Mike Hammer series of novels. The clinically-exact diction and syntax of the female alien from Galactic Central (disguised as a voluptuous human), contrasts nicely with the violence and sexual innuendo from Slickey. Cracks me up every time I listen. [8/10] --- zM

Night in Elf Hill, A

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Norman Spinrad

A spacer writes his Earth-bound psychiatrist brother to ask for help. He wants to be convinced not to return to one of the planets he's visited, because forever can be a very short time.

Night of the Nickel Beer, The

Year: 1977
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Fantasy
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Kris Ottman Neville

Upon turning 40 and finding himself unable to sleep, a man takes a late-night walk through the mist and finds a bar which serves up nickel beer and tantalizes him with the promise of youth. A remembered past? A new beginning? Or a return to his wife sleeping at home?

Reviews:
A very slow-moving, timeless tale about lost youth and the choices one might face if given a chance to reclaim it. The mood is dreamy and nostalgic, as if the promise might not be real... but then again, it just might. What would you do? I found the ending satisfying, but others might not. [8/10] --- zM

Night That All Time Broke Out, The

Year: 1976
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Brian W. Aldiss

A couple purchases a home time converter, only to have the central timeworks plant go awry, turning a pleasant evening of decade jaunting into an annoying rewrite of history.

Nine Billion Names of God, The

Year: 1978
Duration: 17 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arthur C. Clarke
Awards: Hugo (retro), 2004; SFWA - Hall of Fame, 1970

A cloister of Himalayan monks hire a computer programmer to design a mainframe capable of cataloguing every possible name of the Supreme Deity. Hugo winner, 2004 (retro).

None Before Me

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Sidney Carroll

A man devotes his life as a connoisseur to obtaining the best single piece of anything... until he develops an obsession with one of his acquisitions.

Number You Have Reached, The

Year: 19xx
Duration: 22 min
Genre: Dystopia
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Thomas Disch

The last man alive on Earth, a former astronaut struggling to retain his sanity against the ravages of his conscience, is startled when his telephone rings and a lonely woman tries to strike up a conversation. Is the woman real or a figment of his imagination. How will he know?

See also "Hallucination Orbit" (X Minus One).

Reviews:
The astronaut, although trained to work in isolation, suffers from a strong sense of guilt at being the last person alive. Even though it's not his fault, this sense of guilt, combined with loneliness and a craving for human companionship, impairs his ability to think rationally when his telephone rings. This is an okay story with good acting and music which explores the concept of 'isolation psychosis', although not by that name. This theme is explored to much greater effect in the X Minus One episode "Hallucination Orbit" which I strongly recommend. [6/10] --- zM

Or All the Seas with Oysters

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Avram Davidson
Awards: Hugo (1958)

Struck by the fact that there are never enough pins and always too many coat-hangers, a bicycle shop owner begins to speculate on the possible parallels between natural and man-made objects.

Over the Line

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Barry Malzberg

Another 'generational starship lost in space' story. As a rite of passage, a young man asks the ship's computer the meaning of existence.

Reviews:
A real downer of a tale, though not surprising considering who wrote it. The computer is an analogy of God, and the space travelers condemned to purposeless wandering through eternity analogous to our own lives. The metaphor is so obvious that it is tiresome and predictable, and ultimately can offer no better conclusion other that that there is no conclusion. --- Jeff Dickson

Paingod

Year: 1977
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Fantasy
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Harlan Ellison

Reluctantly appointed the universal dispenser of suffering, the 'pain god' has a revelation when he studies a few paltry mortals on a remote dust speck called Earth.

Paradise Regained

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Cogswell Thomas (Theodore R. Cogswell and Theodore L. Thomas)

A group of escapees on a prison world aptly named Hell determine to make a home in the only livable valley on the planet.

Reviews:
A straightforward prison-escape story with an ironic twist that I didn't see coming at all. The incidental background music plays counterpoint to the dialog, creating the image of a truly hellish landscape. [8/10] --- zM

Paxton's World

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Bill Pronzini

When a spacer gets marooned on a distant planet, he sets himself up as a god to the simplistic natives.

Petrified World, The

Year: 1977
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Fantasy
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Sheckley

A man's dreams intrude upon his experience of 'reality'.

Phoenix

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Fantasy
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ted White and Marion Zimmer Bradley

After waking from an odd dream, a man struggles to understand the limits of his new 'wild talent' or psi power.

Place and a Time to Die, A

Year: 19xx
Duration: 22 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: J.G. Ballard

A retired police chief and a deputized used car salesman dig-in and prepare for a futile last-stand against an advancing army. The army, driven by generations of hate and resentment, have advanced across half the continent like an army of solider ants, and are unstoppable.

Reviews:
The politically-neutral retired police chief (Mannic), the fanatically right-wing deputy (Forbis) and the staunchly left-wing activist (Hathaway, a minor character) form three sides of a political triangle. Although Hathaway is eager to meet his ideological brothers, Mannic and Forbis have chosen this time and place to die... defending their ideals as best they can. The story deals mostly with the logistics of the advancing horde, diverts into politics briefly, but then returns for the final climax. Well told, with a twist ending. [7/10] --- zM

Place of the Gods, The

aka: "By the Waters of Babylon"
Year: 1977
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Future Earth, Dystopia
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Stephen Vincent Benét

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.

Another version was produced for 2000x (as "By the Waters of Babylon").

Reviews:
A priests's son struggles with questions beyond his ken: Where are the gods? Why have they left? Where did they go? A quiet narrative, full of superstition and bemused curiosity, which builds slowly and has some satisfying twists at the end. Update: this version is good, but the 2000x version is even better! [8/10] --- zM

Plot is the Thing, The

Year: 1976
Duration: 18 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Bloch
Awards: Nebula (nom), 1967

Having withdrawn into a fantasy world of old horror movies, a woman undergoes a severe form of rehab that challenges the borders of reality. Nebula winner, 1967.

Pond Water

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Robots
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: John Brunner

Scientists create an immortal super-robot named Alexander to rule the human race and who, like his namesake, possesses an insatiable thirst for conquest that extends across the stars.

Portable Phonograph, The

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Future Earth, Dystopia
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Walter van Tilburg Clark

Four men, struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic time, meet regularly to cherish memories of better times—reading from a few remaining books and listening to a few surviving recordings.

Power of the Sentence, The

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Fantasy
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: David M. Locke

An English professor lecturing about the use of sentences finds his examples are taking on a life of their own.

Preserving Machine, The

Year: 19xx
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Dystopia, Sci-Fi, Humour
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Philip K. Dick

Doc Labyrinth, like many people who read a great deal and have too much time on their hands, believes our civilization is collapsing. He laments the inevitable loss of Art, Literature, and Music. Especially Music, for music is fragile, delicate, easily destroyed and quickly forgotten. If a machine could be made, however, to process musical scores into living forms... forms with claws and teeth and an instinct for survival... then perhaps music could look after itself.

Reviews:
A well-written story with a truly novel plot! Philip K. Dick inverts the process of musical composition and creates animate beings from music! "The Mozart bird was pretty, small, and slender with the flowing plumage of a peacock. It ran a little way across the room and then walked back to him, curious and friendly." "The Beethoven beetle: stern and dignified. Intent and withdrawn on some business of its own." "The Schubert animal was silly: an adolescent sheep-creature that ran this way and that, foolish and wanting to play." Delightfully imaginative and full of gentle humour. If classical music isn't your thing, you might not enjoy this story, but give it a chance anyway. I think Hanson and crew had a lot of fun picking the background music for this one! [8/10] --- zM

Prez

Year: 19xx
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ron Goulart

Norbert Penner, an unemployed editor-in-chief, courts Bennie Scott, a woman out of his class and beyond his means. She doesn't seem to mind, but her genetically-modified, talking dog, Prez, does. Tensions run high between Norbert and Prez when Bennie is forced to leave them alone for a few days on her palatial Connecticut estate.

With Mary Armantrout (Bennie), also heard in "Knock" and "The Night He Cried".

Reviews:
Couldn't get my head around this story. I guess it's a story about the interpersonal relationship between Pres (confident, proud, distrustful, and sarcastic) and Norbert (sex-hungry, opportunistic). It's mildly humorous, plods along with rising expectations, and then ends abruptly with a twist. Then again, maybe it's just a shaggy dog story? [6/10] --- zM

Promises to Keep: A Science Fiction Drama

aka: "And Miles to Go Before I Sleep"
Year: 1977
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: William F. Nolan

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.

An abbreviated version was produced for 2000x (as "And Miles to Go before I Sleep").

Public Hating, The

Year: 1977
Duration: 18 min
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Steve Allen

A criminal is sentenced to be telepathically hated in a public stadium by fifty thousand of his peers.

Pure Gold

Year: 1977
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Lord St. Davids

Bizarre story about a couple whose homebuilt sailboat spins gold off its mast on the open water.

Racer, The

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Future Earth, Dystopia
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ib Melchior

Auto racing in the future has turned into a blood sport.

Inspiration for the movie Death Race 2000.

Rebel

Year: 1979
Duration: 21 min
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ward Moore

A young man is confronted by his parents who wish him to conform to their style of living. Classic story told with a twist.

Remembrance to Come

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Gene Wolfe

In this psychological tale, a literature professor wonders if he is seeing things when a strangely clad student turns up in his classroom and begins following him.

'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman

Year: 1977
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Future Earth, Dystopia
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Harlan Ellison
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.

Another version was produced for 2000x.

Reviews:
You can't help rooting for Harlequin as he strikes back at the omnipotent State. Even though you suspect he will get squashed like a bug, there's a chance he'll survive or even bring down the system, right? The audio quality of the tape I have is muffled, but the performance of Michael Hanson is solid. This is a slow-moving tale, full of irony, which tends to drag a bit throughout the middle, but has a thought-provoking ending. [7/10] --- zM

Restricted Area

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Sheckley

Scientists exploring a new world are unable to account for what they find: animals, plants, and mineral structures that simply shouldn't exist!

Roller Ball Murder

Year: 1977
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Future Earth, Dystopia
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: William Harrison

The murderous sport of Rollerball has become the world's most popular sport—with Johnathan E. it's most popular champion—and although he can survive the blood-soaked brutality of the game, can he survive its corporate exploitation?

Basis for two Hollywood films, both entitled Rollerball.

Reviews:
A fast-moving story depicting the sport of the future—brutal, callous, and barbaric—designed to satisfy the bloodlust of the spectator class while maximizing the profits of the corporate class. It's a nice premise, but it's hard to imagine a global corporation acting to maximize its short-term profits while destroying the roots that make that profit possible. Yeah, right. [8/10] --- zM

Rules of the Road, The

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Norman Spinrad

A great silver dome sits in the desert at Yucca Flats, featureless, except for an innocent-looking open entranceway. Ten military men have entered - none have returned. A civilian prepares to enter and discover if the dome is the key to the stars... or just a better mouse-trap.

Run, The

Year: 1976
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Christopher Priest

A senator responsible for the nation's missile silos confronts his humanity when malcontents challenge his passage on the road.

Running Around

Year: 1978
Duration: 17 min
Genre: Time Travel
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Barry Malzberg

Dissatisfied with his life, the inventor of a time machine returns to the past to murder his father and thus pre-empt his own existence.

Saucer of Loneliness, A

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Theodore Sturgeon
Awards: Hugo (retro), 2004

After an unsuccessful suicide attempt, a woman explains to her rescuer how she received a message from a flying saucer, her subsequent imprisonment and interrogation by a government bent on discovering that message, and... her lifelong loneliness.

Sentinel, The

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arthur C. Clarke

In the late summer of '96 a lunar expedition exploring the great walled plain called the Mare Crisium—the sea of crises—detours to investigate a metallic glitter high an the ridge of an unclimbed peak.

This story was the basis for the film 2001: A Space Odyssey

Show Must Go On, The

aka: "So Lovely, So Lost"
Year: 1983
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: James Causey

Man built better than himself. Anything he can do, his androids can do better. So he rarely bothers to do anything anymore. Except hate. In an effort to save mankind from a long drawn-out suicide, a new android show is being produced. Hopefully this will draw men away from the Hate Bars and give them hope in the future.

Singularities Make Me Nervous

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Time Travel
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Larry Niven

After traveling back in time via a black hole, an astronaut and his future self plan their financial freedom.

Sky Was Full of Ships, The

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Theodore Sturgeon

On trial for the murder of an eminent scientist, the accused tells the jury an impossible tale of the discovery of a cave housing alien machinery.

A version of this story appeared on Beyond Tomorrow as "Incident at Switchpath". Yet another version was produced for television on the series Tales of Tomorrow, under the title "Verdict From Space".

See also "The Machine in Shaft Ten" (Mindwebs)

Snake, The

Year: 1978
Duration: 21 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: John Steinbeck

The symbolic story of a mysterious woman who visits Dr. Philips in his laboratory and seems obsessed with watching a snake eat a rat.

Sound Machine, The

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Super Science
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Roald Dahl

Klausner is a man obsessed with sound. He develops a machine which converts ultra-sonic frequencies into audible tones... with unexpected results.

Squirrel Cage, The

Year: 1977
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Thomas Disch

A prisoner in a white-walled cube has no idea who his jailers are, what crime he has committed, or how long his incarceration will last.

Stair Trick

Year: 1977
Duration: 13 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Mildred Clingerman

A bartender, when asked, descends the stairs behind his bar to fetch an obscure vintage of wine from his cellar. Newcomers to the bar are amazed when they discover that there are no stairs and no cellar. Nobody ever really notices a bartender.

Star, The

Year: 1977
Duration: 16 min
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arthur C. Clarke
Awards: Hugo, 1956

A cleric on a deep space survey has his faith in God sorely tested when the expedition happens upon the ruins of a civilization destroyed when its parent star went nova.

A severely bastardized version of this story was produced for Family Theater.

Reviews:
Poignantly enhanced with a melancholy piece of classical music, which elegantly conveyed the pathos of the story. One can sense Clarke's almost angry brand of atheism in the premise. He seems to be saying that a God - assuming he/she/it exists - must by nature be cruel. --- Ed Corbeil

Subjectivity

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Norman Spinrad

Repeated attempts at manned interstellar flight have only succeeded in the crews going mad, until the planners program the latest ship with a holo-projector capable of rendering images from the minds of the crew. Bad idea...

Summertime on Icarus

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arthur C. Clarke

An astronaut crashed onto the night side of an asteroid in tight orbit of the sun, faces a desperate flight of terror away from the rise of the sun.

Swimmer, The

Year: 1977
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: John Cheever

A middle-aged, but youthful, man attending a party in an affluent suburb of New York decides to head home by swimming across Westchester county. His journey—from residential pool to residential pool—is a blend of realism and surrealism, of myth and symbolism, and a commentary on the relationship between wealth and happiness.

Sword Game

Year: 1983
Duration: 21 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ben Neal Ramey (as H.H. Hollis)
Awards: Nebula (nom), 1969

A bored professor of Topology meets a grubby teenage girl who claims to be a wandering gypsy fortune teller. They wander off so she can tell his fortune... and begin an adventure of their own.

Swords of Ifthan

Year: 1978
Duration: 6 min
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: James Sutherland

A very short story about a man recruited into helping out a distant civilization still moldering in medievalism.

Tank and Its Wife, The

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arsen Darnay

A military tank, T98, serving as a prosthesis for a stroke victim, goes AWOL to visit its wife.

Taste for Dostoevsky, A

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Fantasy
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Brian W. Aldiss

A psychological tale which blends surreal stream-of-consciousness fantasy with reality.

Test

Year: 1978
Duration: 10 min
Genre: Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Theodore L. Thomas

Robert Proctor was a good driver for one so young... a very good driver.

Reviews:
A short, intense story that will leave you feeling a little dazed... and not quite ready for the drive home. [8/10] --- zM

That Only a Mother

Year: 1977
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Future Earth, Dystopia
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Judith Merrill
Awards: SFWA - Hall of Fame, 1970

In a future plagued by radiation-induced mutations, one mother revels in her perfect and 'gifted' child.

They

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Fantasy
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Heinlein

A paranoiac in a mental hospital is convinced that the world around him is a construct provided solely to prevent him from realizing the ultimate truth behind existence.

To See the Invisible Man

Year: 1977
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Future Earth, Dystopia
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Silverberg

Convicted of the crime of coldness, a man is sentenced to a year of 'invisibility', during which time no one will acknowledge his existence.

To the Dark Star

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Space Exploration, Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Silverberg

The mutual distrust and enmity among a trio of ill-matched astrophysicists sent on an expedition to observe the collapse of a dying star turn deadly when it becomes obvious one must sacrifice their life to complete the mission.

Through Time and Space with Ferdinand Feghoot

Year: 1979
Duration: 5 min
Genre: Humour
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Reginald Bretnor (as the anagrammatic pseudonym, Grendel Briton)

One in a series of over 80 very short story puns (also known as poetic story jokes or 'Feghoots') involving Ferdinand Feghoot resolving a situation encountered while traveling through time and space, culminating with a bad pun.

Top, The

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: George Sumner Albee

In this subtly satirical allegory of American business, Johnathan Gerber receives a memorandum to meet with his boss and an elevator pass to reach the upper levels.

Treasure Hunt

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Fantasy
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Joseph Green

A man's consciousness is transferred into the body of an alien, that he might better search for the Egg of Beauty... and of Life and Death. The Egg of the Firebird.

Twenty-Four Letters from Underneath the Earth

Year: 1983
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Dystopian Future
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Hilary Bailey

A woman discovers an unused tunnel designed to shuttle letters between Complexes - carefully controlled and isolated social environments of roughly 150 people probably located beneath the Preseli Hills in North Wales. Story by Hilary Bailey.

Unfinished, The

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Space Exploration, Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Frank Belknap Long

Two space explorers land on a remote jungle planet where they confront hostile natives.

Unremembered, The

Year: 1977
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Edward Mackin

A citizen in a society of the artificially rejuvenated experiences discontent.

Valley of Echoes, The

aka: "La Vallée des échos"
Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Mars
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Gérard Klein

Three men explore the surface of Mars, searching for evidence of a legendary ancient civilization.

Veldt, The

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Super Science
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ray Bradbury

A couple purchase a holo-theatre to keep their son and daughter amused, but the recreation of the sweltering African savannah the children concoct is anything but amusing...

See also "The House on Chimney Pot Lane" (CBS Radio Mystery Theater).

One of Bradbury's most popular stories. Versions appeared on BBC, Bradbury 13, CBC Playhouse, Dimension X, Mindwebs, and X Minus One

Vertical Ladder, The

Year: 19xx
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: William Sansom

A young man tries to impress a young woman by accepting a dare to climb a ladder extending high above the ground along the outside of a gasometer.

Walk in the Dark, A

Year: 1976
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi/Horror
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arthur C. Clarke

A hard-bitten engineer finishing up a contract on a remote colony planet has his pragmatism put to the test when he must face a long walk through a wilderness reported to be the domain of a nameless horror.

Reviews:
A well written and told story that is great for a creepy late night listening. The mood is nearly perfect with the only flaw being a slight rushing by the narrator, necessary to fit the story in its time limits. --- Dave Tackett

Wasted on the Young

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: John Brunner

A future social system in which the young, up until age 30, are allowed to live at society's expense, charging any extravagance they desire to the state, after which they must repay that luxury with years of service.

Reviews:
A cautionary tale with a very satisfying ending. [8/10] --- zM

Weapon, The

Year: 1977
Duration: 7 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Fredric Brown

A scientist working on WMD is confronted with an unusual form of protest from a concerned citizen.

Webster

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Fantasy
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Greg Bear

A lonely spinster conjures up a lover out of the dictionary, but he doesn't quite live up to her expectations.

Weep No More, Old Lady

Year: 1979
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Charles L. Grant

A prodigious 'brain child' takes part in a secret government program to test the limits of mental development.

What Really Caused the Energy Crisis

Year: 19xx
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Super Science
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Paul Nahin

A physics professor at a local university explains to a doubting class of freshmen what caused the energy crisis in the latter half of the Seventies. He presupposes that the formula E=mc2 could be reversed and was extensively used by the military to create super-dense plating... Was he just a crazy old professor waiting to retire?

When It Changed

Year: 19xx
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Joanna Russ
Awards: Hugo (nom), 1973; Nebula, 1973

After six centuries, the Men have returned. And the technologically advanced, all-female population of the former Earth colony are not entirely happy about it. Told by Carol Cowan. Nebula winner and Hugo nominated, 1973.

See also: "Houston, Houston, Do You Read" (Sci-Fi Radio)

Reviews:
A somber, pensive story with slowly-building tension that never quite resolves itself into outright violence. The hauntingly beautiful background music underscores the tension and suggests an entire culture about to be lost—changed—forever. As the narrator says: "Take my life... but don't take away the meaning of my life." [9/10] --- zM

When We Went to See the End of the World

Year: 1976
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Time Travel
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Silverberg
Awards: Hugo (nom), 1973; Nebula (nom), 1973

Couples who regularly party with each other while civilization crumbles around them find novelty in traveling through time to see the end of the world.

Winner, The

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Donald E. Westlake

The Guardian is combination radio transmitter/receiver. The receiver is surgically implanted into the body of a prisoner and induces incredible pain if the prisoner moves more than 150 yards from the transmitter. Escape is impossible... but that doesn't stop prisoners from making the attempt.

Winter Housekeeping

aka: "Winter Housecleaning"
Year: 1977
Duration: 10 min
Genre: Fantasy
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Molly Daniel

What would it be like if old age were a substance that permeates the air, settles like dust around oneself, enters the body when one inhales, and, with proper breathing, can be exhaled as well?

Word, The

Year: 1977
Duration: 14 min
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Mildred Clingerman

After their ship is forced to make an emergency landing for repairs and additional food, 3 crew members venture forth to observe the hideous, indigenous population. With every step, they are painfully aware they are violating regulations... but nevertheless feel compelled to push on and examine the locals more closely.

Worm, The

Year: 1978
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Creatures
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: David Keller

The miller and his dog are the only ones left in Thompson Valley. The grist mill has stood for over 200 years, but now, nature is slowly taking the valley back from the farmers and millers who once lived there.

Young Girl at an Open Half-Door

Year: 1981
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Fred Saberhagen

A newly installed, state-of-the-art, intrusion-detection system at an art gallery intermittently registers a disturbance. By the time a guard can get to the gallery where the disturbance originates, the signal has returned to normal.

Note: "Young Woman at an Open Half-Door" is the title of a painting (oil on canvas) from the workshop of Rembrandt (Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn) circa 1645. It is currently on display at the Art Institute of Chicago.

The following actors and actresses are credited in these programs. If anyone has information about the correct spelling of these names, please let me know!