FUTURE TENSE! The Martian Chronicles
On Tuesday, Ray Bradbury died at the grand old age of 91. I’ve not read a great amount of his work, but one did have great resonance – The Martian Chronicles. I have to admit it wasn’t the book that grabbed me, but the the TV miniseries starring Rock Hudson. Bradbury had a very dim opinion of the show, describing it as ‘just boring’. But still, it hooked me when I was with seven.
In the mid-eighties BBC2 used to show during the week classic science fiction films that just happened to coincide with our tea. My Dad is a sci-fi nut, so naturally we were allowed to watch them. During a brief summer, I saw The Day The Earth Stood Still, This Island Earth, Invaders From Mars, Silent Running, 2001, When Worlds Collide and The Martian Chronicles.
I do remember the miniseries being quite slow, but there was something mesmerising about the look of the film – the pale blue sky and the golden light – it reminded me of a summer evening in the fens. It’s a very science fiction part of the world: the view at the edge of our village looked exactly like the backdrop of a science fiction magazine cover, you could see the Milky Way on a clear evening and if there was anywhere you wouldn’t be surprised to see a UFO, it would be above a long, straight fen road in the middle of the night.
Along with books about UFOs, I started to borrow science fiction from the library. But over time, with the odd exception of Vonnegut, Ballard and James Tiptree Jr (who was actually a woman and it’s well worth tracking down her biography), most of my favourite science fiction writers turned out to be conventional authors: Ian M Banks, Aldous Huxley, Margret Atwood and George Orwell. As much as I loved the illustrations and the premises of science fiction, very few books ever lived up to my expectations. They were too focused on explaining the technical and cultural elements of the story rather than developing plots or characters I could relate to. I like the idea of science fiction, rather than the genre itself. In my mind it exists alongside other concepts such as ‘tattoos’ and ‘owning a dog’.
But I do love science fiction radio, probably because it’s light on description and character driven – a good example is The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. But there’s not much of it available. Then I found Dimension X on Archive.org.
Dimension X was an American science fiction radio show first broadcast on NBC on April 8 1950. It ran for just over a year, but in its time it dramatised the work of a number of classic sci-fi authors such as Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and Kurt Vonnegut.
So because my Dad loves science fiction and the mixes I make him, I’ve combined these two loves like Voltron to make FUTURE TENSE! The Martian Chronicles. Who knows, I might do more.
This is the Dimension X dramatisation of a number of Bradbury’s stories from the Chronicles mixed with the following:
- Quiet Evenings – Fog Hammers
- Ben Vida – Exorcise/Intone
- Sun Ra – Door To The Cosmos
- Monstatruk – Tall Man, Tall Ship
- Boards Of Canada – Over The Horizon Radar
- Boards Of Canada – Sunshine Recorder
- Autechre – Tewe
- Ilyas Ahmed – Night Song
- Richard Skelton – Noon Hill Wood
- Joachim Witt – Exil
- Dabrye – No Child Of God
- The Flaming Lips – Psychiatric Explorations of the Fetus with Needles
- Harmonia & Eno ’76 – By The Riverside (Appleblim & Komonazmuk Remix)
I hope it’s not boring!