August Heat

Delta-vee presents classic Old Time Radio productions and modern audio dramas, today’s episode: “August Heat”. William Fryer Harvey wrote mysteries and horror stories in turn of the century England. He came from a strongly religious Quaker background and received a formal secondary education that earned him a medical degree. Harvey’s family wealth and personal ill health caused him concentrate on his writing instead of pursuing a medical career. “August Heat” treats themes of personal choice and predestination, as well as lightly touching on the subject of human nature. Harvey’s religious background would have placed an emphasis on these aspects of his education. Protestant doctrine treats the predestination of humanity as a cornerstone tenet of salvation, while also emphasizing the element of personal choice as integral to the fulfillment of that destiny. This seeming contradiction has been the subject of centuries of theological dissertation and debate, and promises to fuel generations more. A second theme at the heart of this story is the nature of humanity, and the potential within each of us for great, unwitting, spontaneous evil. Harvey treats his themes with a deft hand, raising each question in turn, and involving the reader inevitably in the answer. “August Heat” first appeared in Harvey’s short story collection “Midnight House” in 1910. This episode of Suspense first aired on May 31, 1945. And now, our feature presentation ….

The Dunwich Horror

Delta-vee presents classic Old Time Radio productions and modern audio drama, today’s episode: “The Dunwich Horror”. The works of H.P. Lovecraft have had a pervasive and lasting influence on modern horror writers, from his themes of forbidden knowledge and nihilism to his habit of founding mythology upon a secret history fabricated from whole cloth. Of his many works, the most well know are unarguably the Cthulhu Mythos, a loosely defined collection of secret history lore upon which Lovecraft built many of his stories, and which he encouraged his contemporaries to reference in their own works. “The Dunwich Horror” stands as perhaps the quintessential representative of the Cthulhu Mythos as a whole, containing as it does nearly every staple element of Lovecraft’s other fiction. His horror fiction is replete with monsters beyond the ken of man, secret cults devoted to the outer gods, and heroes whose credentials are more scholarly than physical. In one aspect only does “The Dunwich Horror” depart from traditional Lovecraftian storytelling: the heroes not only survive their adventure with body and minds whole, but emerge triumphant … after a fashion. Despite the not-completely-nihilistic ending, Lovecraft considered this story “so fiendish that [Weird Tales editor] Farnsworth Wright may not dare to print it.” Wright did not agree with this sentiment, and snapped up the story for $240 (about $2800 today), making this the single largest payment Lovecraft had yet received for his work (Lovecraft, Selected Letters Vol. II, p. 240; cited in Joshi, p. 101). “The Dunwich Horror” was first published in the April, 1929 issue of Weird Tales; this episode of Suspense first aired on November 1, 1945. And now, our feature presentation ….

The Defenders

Delta-vee presents classic Old Time Radio productions and modern audio dramas, today’s episode: “The Defenders”. The works of Philip K. Dick repeatedly treat themes revolving around our perception of reality and personal identity. Protagonists in Dick’s work were often regular people rather than action heroes and did not need to be human at all; the qualities that defined humanity for Dick included traditional virtues such as honesty, kindness, and the ability to act rationally. Dick’s heroes often engaged in extensive rational analysis of their world, often concluding that the world around them could not be objectively real but a product of their own perception and interaction choices. Dick displayed an overarching fear and hatred of war, both as a political and social instrument, believing it to be an expression of the immaturity of human culture. Jungian psychology played a large part in Dick’s thinking, shaping his stories around themes of the collective unconscious of humanity, the behavior of individuals in groups, and the intrinsic nature of personhood. Film adaptations of Dick’s work include “Minority Report”, “Total Recall”, and Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner”; Dick’s work has been pervasively influential in the science fiction genre as a whole. “The Defenders” presents a world where a war started by humanity is prosecuted by machines, precursing both Keith Laumer’s “Bolo” stories and James Cameron’s “Terminator” franchise, and treats Dick’s three themes in a very succinct and expressive way. “The Defenders” was first published in the January, 1953 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction. This episode of X Minus One first aired on May 22, 1956. And now, our feature presentation….

Sam, This Is You

Delta-vee presents classic Old Time Radio productions and modern audio dramas, today’s episode: “Sam, This Is You”. Murray Leinster wrote more than 1500 short stories and novels during an extremely prolific writing career under a variety of pseudonyms, the “Leinster” persona being the most famous of them. His writing career began well before World War I when he wrote for a wide variety of genre fiction magazines, including westerns, mysteries, and romance, but it wasn’t until pulp science fiction started to become widely accepted in the 50s and 60s that he published routinely under his real name, William Fitzgerald Jenkins. Leinster accumulated many “sci-fi firsts” to his credit, including genre conventions such as parallel universe stories and the universal translator. Leinster’s most famous story is unquestionably “A Logic Named Joe”, where he predicts not only personal computers associated with everyday tasks, but the existence of a pervasive network of interconnected information systems. The “Sideways Award for Alternate History” was created in 1995 to recognize outstanding parallel universe stories, and takes its name from Leinster’s story “Sideways In Time”. Leinster’s story “Sam, This Is You” dabbles in time travel without dipping into the complex arguments of causality and predetermination that accompany this kind of exercise in the modern and post-modern storytelling era. Instead, Leinster lets events play out in a continually unfolding drama that assumes history will play out more or less the same way regardless of outside meddling; that era’s optimistic outlook stands in sharp contrast to contemporary attitudes of mistrust and fear that now form the prevalent reaction to personal insecurity. “Sam, This Is You” first saw print in the May 1955 issue of Galaxy magazine; this episode of X Minus One first aired on October 31, 1956. And now, our feature presentation ….

Time and Time Again

Delta-vee presents classic Old-Time Radio productions and modern audio dramas, today’s episode: “Time and Time Again”. Henry Beam Piper never lived to see the great impression his contributions to science fiction would make on future generations of writers. Like Robert Jordan before him, Piper took his own life after a lengthy depression. Piper’s works tended to revolve around themes of social conflict and cultural misunderstanding, usually underscored with the trappings of space opera. He wrote many of his stories in an interconnected universal timeline, in the same way as his better known contemporaries Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein. Although the Terro-Human and Paratime sereis feature prominently in Piper’s outstanding bibliography, his Terro-Human novel “Little Fuzzy” is inarguably his most well known and influential work, detailing the conflict between human industrialists and the aboriginal inhabitants of a planet with singular natural resources. “Time and Time Again” is notable for being Piper’s first published work, appearing in 1947 in the pages of Astounding Science Fiction. Piper was a self-educated man who believed in the stark competence and self-reliance of the individual, a theme that repeats itself in the heroic characterization of his protagonists. This episode of X Minus 1 first aired on January 11, 1956. And now, our feature presentation….

The Most Dangerous Game

Delta-vee presents classic Old-Time Radio productions and modern audio dramas, today’s episode: “The Most Dangerous Game”. Richard Connell’s famous short story, also published as “The Hounds of Zaroff”, describes the experiences of a big game hunter who is shipwrecked on an island. The master of the island is another big game hunter who has decided to hunt the most dangerous game of all – man. First published in the January 19, 1924 issue of Collier’s Weekly, this story has served as an inspiration and spiritual predecessor for countless other media interpretations, including modern bestsellers such as “The Hunger Games” and even been referenced in the popular Disney-Pixar film “Up”. Big game hunting and travelogues of safari adventures were popular during the 1920s and 30s, leading to a spate of fiction on the subject alongside many “real life” adventures. Connell’s story makes no attempts to justify or rationalize the activities of the antagonist General Zaroff, nor does the protagonist Rainsford waste any time attempting to debate the morality of Zaroff’s actions or mitigate the steps he takes in his own defense. In this way, the story parallels the jungle adventures that it emulates, where the only law is survival of the fittest and morality is a function of tooth and claw rather than reason or spirit. The story was adapted three times for radio under the incomparable baritone of Orson Welles; the first film adaptation by RKO pictures has been the only one to share the title of the story. This episode of Escape first aired on October 1, 1947 and is the only one to feature Welles in the role of Rainsford instead of Zaroff. And now our featured presentation….

Three Skeleton Key

“Three Skeleton Key” by Frenchman George Toudouze brings together three men in a lighthouse besieged inexplicably and unrelentingly by a horde of voracious rats. The story is the earliest example of the “nature gone mad” genre that I’ve been able to find, and was adapted three times for radio by the CBS anthology series “Escape”, and twice for the CBS anthology series “Suspense”. This version starring Vincent Price first aired on March 17, 1950, and is the better known of the adaptations. The original story first appeared in English in the January 1937 edition of “Esquire”. And now, without further ado, Delta-vee and the Critical Mass Podcast present….