Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Radio: The Last Martian (X Minus One)

Based on the story by Fredric Brown, published in Galaxy Science Fiction, October 1950.

Originally broadcast on NBC, August 7, 1956.

I'm not an editor by training, although I started making magazines when I was seven. I've always had kind of a knack for it, mentally holding a blue pencil as I read. But since I worry about everything, I sometimes ask myself who died and made me a science fiction editor.

Enter this week's Friday Radio. I picked it because I have a story by Fredric Brown in Thrilling Wonder Stories, Volume 2, and I like to say Thrilling Wonder Stories, Volume 2 to you as much as possible. But as it happens, I'd never read this particular Brown story.

When I listened to the episode, I noticed that it changes point of view character for a while, about two-thirds of the way through, and it just struck me as wrong... particularly because, up till then, it was narrated in the first person by a character who was suddenly no longer present. I also thought it wasted rather casually what should have been the big twist punchline/reveal.

So afterwards, I opened up my copy of From These Ashes: The Complete Short SF of Fredric Brown, and found, to no surprise whatsoever, that the section that had rubbed me the wrong way wasn't in it; it was made up by George Lefferts, the radio scriptwriter, probably to add a couple of plot beats to a fairly short story. And the twist was in the last scene, where it belonged.

Now I'm feeling better. And it'll probably last for, oh, a day, day and a half.

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