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The Smithsonian Collection: Old Time Radio Science Fiction

Reviewed by James M. Palmer

(originally published in SciFiNow)

Tape or CD, (5 Hours) Radio Spirits, Inc. $24.98

This boxed set of four tapes or four CDs is the perfect introduction to old time radio science fiction. It’s a Whitman’s Sampler of audio delights, featuring some of the most popular radio shows ever produced.

The set features the infamous War of the Worlds produced by Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre on the Air, as well as the episode of Escape featuring The Time Machine and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea on Family Theater.The collection contains some good adaptations of some Ray Bradbury stories as well, including Mars is Heaven, Zero Hour, and The Martian Chronicles.

Despite the inordinately large smattering of Bradbury, there is also the classic Donovan’s Brain, adapted from the equally famous short story of the same name by Curt Siodmak. This story is considered a classic of science fiction and horror because it blends the two elements to such great effect. (As an interesting aside: Siodmak also wrote the screenplay for The Wolfman and its famous line: "Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night may become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright").

The collection also comes in a nice, sturdy package suitable for storage, and a 60-page booklet that tells about Hugo Gernsback, science fiction and radio, and each of the shows contained in the set. The booklet also has a forward by Ray Bradbury and some interesting black and white photographs.

If you’re new to science fiction audio drama or a dedicated fan, you’ll find this collection of old time radio science fiction a neat little treasure. This collection has wetted my appetite for Radio Spirits’ Dimension X and Lights Out! collections, as well as more Arch Oboler plays. If you love this stuff, you’ll have a blast trying to complete your collection.

You can reach Radio Spirits on the Internet at www.mediabay.com

 

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