A lot of people know about the Sci-Fi London film festival, or the 48 hour film challenge, or their many Indi film projects. But did you know they have been collecting Old Time Radio programs and making them available for download? Some are available from other places, but some I have only found there. And they have started building their own, with the first one now available: Rossum’s Universal Robots.
The finalists have been announced for the 2011 Parsec Awards. These awards are given out to honor the best in speculative fiction podcasting in each of a number of categories. Part of the requirements to be eligible include being available for free through an RSS feed, so if you are the ind of person who likes a good audio book or radio drama, this is a great source of new programming to add to your mobile player and personal collections. And for each representative program linked on the list you can subscribe to the feeds and get a ton of additional programs. The awards themselves will be handed out in about a month.
My favorite BBC Radio station was always BBC7’s 7th Dimension, their science fiction and fantasy showcase which sadly got shut down a while ago, at least as a separate entity. It didn’t just go away, though; they folded it into BBC Radio 4Extra, where it joined up with some other quality radio plays and book readings. Last weekend, they aired Terry Pratchett’s Only You Can Save Mankind, and they are running J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World this week, James Follett’s The Destruction Factor, and the outer space comedy The Laxian Key. While the Pratchett episodes have mostly evaporated (just one left at the moment), you can still listen again to the others. But the exciting bit is what is coming, starting with a brand new Doctor Who radio play, Cobwebs, which begins Monday at 6PM (GMT/UT, adjust for your local time zone) and runs each day for 4 episodes through Thursday. This one stars Peter Davison as The Doctor, Janet Fielding as Tegan, Mark Strickson as Turlough, and Sarah Sutton as Nyssa; I can’t wait. While I am still heartbroken that the Tom Baker/Elisabeth Sladen new radio plays will now never be made since we lost Lis (Tom will still be doing new ones), it is good to know there continue to be new Who stories being created by our old friends.
Nor is this phenomenon unique to Doctor Who. According to this SFX story, they are wrapping up production on Torchwood this week, and are about to go into the studio to record three new Torchwood radio plays. The first one they did, Lost Souls, was aired on the day CERN fired up its super collider in September of 2008, referred to as Big Bang Day by a lot of people who wondered if they would blow up the planet (and don’t you feel silly now?). Then in 2009 they did three more, called Asylum, Golden Age, and The Dead Line. These stories took place between seasons two and three, airing consecutively on July 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of 2009, followed immediately by season three, Children of Earth, which ran for 5 consecutive nights, July 6th through the 10th. These are all excellently done radio dramas, and if you haven’t heard them yet you can buy the disks from Amazon or download them from iTunes, and they are worth every penny. The three new episodes will be broadcast on BBC4 sometime this summer, which you can listen to online.
This Friday, January 14th, the movie to attend is The Green Hornet, a tribute to the 1960’s TV show starring Bruce Lee, and referred to as The Kato Show all throughout Asia during that time period. This version is NOT directed by Stephen Chow, who brought us such masterpieces as Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer, as I previously reported. He had been involved with the project, but walked away from the Director spot in 2008, and the Kato roll in 2009; I really need to check web pages more carefully for story dates so I am not reporting expired information. This has come a long way since 1940, when it was produced as a movie theater serial of 13 episodes or so, itself based on the original Radio Plays of the early 1930s. Unlike most of its contemporaries The Green Hornet was a radio play first, not a pulp or comics series, and every episode ended with the newspaper boy hawking his wares by shouting out the headlines for that story (bad guys in jail) ending with the phrase The Green Hornet Still at Large!!
Some interesting things from the realm of Doctor Who are available this week, with others coming soon. In the Classic Who category there are two audio treats that you still have a few days to get in on, as part of the ongoing 7th Dimension audio series on BBC7. Both of these are fun, starting with Tom Baker reading from the first 4th Doctor adventure, Doctor Who and the Giant Robot. And yes, they even include the bit where Baker chose his costume for his version of The Doctor in this Big Finish production. You should hit it now, as of the point I am writing this you only have 5 days before the first episode is no longer available. You only have 4 days left to catch episode two of Barry Letts Who & Me, in which The Doctor Who TV producer from 1969 to 1974 recounts his career. There are some wonderful behind the scenes bits about Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee in this one. So while I am really looking forward to the new series, it is good to know Classic Who still has some new things to offer.
Starship Sofa Aural Delights has hit its 100th episode, and to celebrate they have released Starship Sofa Stories, Volume 1. Some of the authors include Elizabeth Bear, Michael Bishop, Ken MacLeod, Alastair Reynolds, and Spider Robinson, and all of these tales were featured as a radio play or reading in an Aural Delights episode. You can download it here, or you can use a widget for online access.
When I go hang out in a virtual environment, I often listen to music and go dancing. One of my favorite bands to party with is Australia’s Space Junky, 3 world-class musicians who play a wide range of music. Drop by Space Junky Island the next time you are in Second Life, and meanwhile here are a few tunes to listen to until then.