Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Big Audio Wednesday - Sleep No More

So I listened to a huge chunk of Escape and Suspense (one of which will be next week's Big Audio Wednesday) and decided to look for something more offbeat.

Which led me to Sleep No More.

Sleep No More was a different kind of suspense show. Instead of performing dramas with a stock cast and maybe a weekly guest star, Sleep No More was formatted around a man named Nelson Olmsted, who read and performed all the short story adaptations in the series. He was entirely a celebrity of his time, quite famous and successful in his day, virtually forgotten now.

For this week's feature, here's the November 21, 1956 episode of Sleep No More, an adaptation of the Nelson Bond short story, "Conqueror's Isle." Click the widget to listen.

"Conqueror's Isle," first published in 1946, had been adapted before. It was an episode of Escape in 1947, and was performed on television in 1953 as an episode of Tales of Tomorrow. I haven't seen the television version, but I think the Escape adaptation is much better than the Sleep No More.

So why am I presenting the Sleep No More version? Because this adaptation differs from the Escape one in one significant way (actually two, but the other isn't the reason I chose it).

You see (and I make no apologies for the spoiler here--the story is over 60 years old, and it's not that great to start with), "Conqueror's Isle" is about mankind faced with the threat of evolution, specifically with a race of advanced mutant supermen with abilities far beyond those of ordinary humans.

And in this adaptation, those mutant supermen refer to themselves specifically as Homo Superior. Now, I know that the term was first coined by Olaf Stapledon in the novel Odd John in 1935, but I wonder if Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, when they were creating X-Men in 1962, would have been more influenced by an almost thirty-year-old novel or by an episode of a popular radio show that aired a few years previous.

I'm not saying definitively that this show inspired the X-Men. I'm just saying that it's possible that it was an influence. At least, it's fun to listen to in that light.

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