Growing up, I was immediately enamored with a good story, and early on it was clear that if there was any combination of adventure or Science Fiction involved, I was hooked. My primary gateway to all of this culture was through television and film, but after I got turned onto Comics in the late ’80’s, I was opened up to this “other world” of pulp stories, and thus, the classics. I was aided in all of this by a bookstore that sold comics and records and was managed by my mother. Of course, all of these interests converged when I got a radio for my birthday as a kid, and stayed up way too late one night, tuning in this and that, and eventually landing on a mysterious Old Time Radio broadcast of which I missed the beginning, and it completely transformed my passions from that point forward.
In the earliest days of making tapes for my friends, the notion that I would make a tape of all “Science Fiction Songs” began germinating for me in 1994, but it would take some time before I found myself curating music like this for the radio, and even more time before the final product was able to reflect my teenage desire to combine music and spaceships. But, what is important is that, tonight, you can enjoy the fruits of these labors with a mash-up / remix of one of my favorite radio programs, Dimension X.
Originally a short-run Sci-Fi show, Dimension X was revolutionary, in that it adapted stories by current authors that were making waves with fans. Not only did people like Ernest Kinoy work for the program – adapting nearly all published stories for radio scripts – but writers like Asimov and Bradbury courted Dimension X, hoping that their stories would make it on the air. A collection of Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles – which finally collected the various stories he’d been writing and publishing in the pulp magazine for years previously – would be contemporaneous to the broadcast of this show on 18 August 1950. The kids would be out of school, more and more people would be turning to radio for entertainment, and this would have been heard by a huge audience that summer, and would have been well-known (and loved) by fans.
This broadcast barely scratches the surface when it comes to Ray Bradbury’s work on the air; while only this show bears the famous title, many of the stories from this book were adapted into other episodes of this program, and its successor, X-Minus 1. Many of these stories became so well known that LPs were released, and his success as the years wore on caused these stories to be lodged into the public consciousness for quite some time. But audio drama began to loose popularity in the ’80’s, and when a TV adaptation was attempted of The Martian Chronicles – which was not a success – the property has sort of faded from public memory, to be replaced by homages in Futurama and The Thrill Adventure Hour. Now, Old Time Radio nerds seem to be the last part of the culture that remembers how great these stories can be in a “theater of the mind” format, and to that end, I bring you this story tonight.
It is always surprising to find out how few people are needed to work on a show like this. There were three voice actors performing on this episode: Inga Adams, Roger DeKoven and Donald Buka. FX and Music were produced and pre-recorded, then played along with the actors who are all performing the script live, with an NBC studio engineer recording everything. These were cut to transcription discs, then duplicated and sent to radio stations everywhere. They were meant to be played once, maybe twice, then destroyed or lost, forgotten in the forward momentum of time. But, for our sake, they have survived into the modern era.
Eagle-eared listeners will notice that a version of this show appeared on my podcast last year. While I am proud of that episode, this version has some of the music swapped out, some production elements changed / improved, and some other mixing and editing was done, to make this a “remastered” version of what was previously heard. This version is also clean for broadcast airwaves, and is – in my mind – the definitive version of this presentation. However, the original will persist “as is,” for the sake of the historic document.
I love these stories, and I think the way I’ve presented them here are going to make you love them too. So, put on your headphones, and enjoy this Sci-Fi treat as part of your balanced experimentally musical diet.
The Martian Chronicles (Part I)
A. “The Off Season”
01.) The Martian Chronicles [Excerpt] * Dimension X * 18 August 1950 NBC Broadcast
02.) cosmic introduction ~ untitled space * Acid Mother’s Temple and The Melting Parisio UFO * Live In Japan
03.) The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy TV Episode 1 [Excerpt] * BBC Sound Department * BBC Television
04.) Transfusion [Excerpt] * Nervous Norvous * Dot Rock ‘N’ Roll
B. One Of Our Most Brilliant, Young Science Fiction Authors
03.) Take Me Ta Mars * The Flaming Lips * In A Priest Driven Ambulance
C. “Rocket Summer”
04.) Lost Out On The Ice * ARU * Consumed
05.) War Dance For Wooden Indians * Raymond Scott * Reckless Nights And Turkish Twilights
D. “This Planet Earth”
06.) It Came From Outer Space * Dick Jacobs * Brain In A Box
07.) This Planet Earth * Greg Sage * Sacrifice (For Love)
08.) The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy Audiobook * Douglas Adams * Dove Audio
E. “The Summer Night”
09.) Alone Together * Peggy Lee * Things Are Swingin’
10.) I Just Can’t Be Happy Today * The Damned * The Best Of The Damned
D. “Ylla” Part 1
11.) Silver Rocket * Sonic Youth * Daydream Nation *
12.) Restless Spirit * RO Berger * The Euston Sampler
13.) Restless * The Cobras * The Complete Stax-Volt Singles 1959-1968
14.) I Wanna Sleep * No Age * Weirdo Rippers
E. “Ylla” Part 2
15.) Outer Accelerator [Excerpt] * Stereolab * Mars Audiac Quintet
16.) Dreams Recurring * Hüsker Dü * Zen Arcade
16.) Neon Green Fear * The Appendixes * Neon Green Fear 7″
17.) The Moonbeam Song * Harry Nillson * Nilsson Schmilsson
18.) Space Fuck * Rise Over Run * Live In-Studio 22 July 2005