Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Radio: A Saucer of Loneliness (X Minus One)

Based on the story by Theodore Sturgeon, published in Galaxy Science Fiction, February 1953.

Originally broadcast on NBC, January 9, 1957.

(A novella by Theodore Sturgeon, "The Golden Helix," appears in Thrilling Wonder Stories, Volume 2.)

I know I keep saying things that other people have observed for decades, but my goodness, that Sturgeon could string words together that wring you right out, couldn't he?

I've read "The Golden Helix" several times—once (when I scanned the text into QuarkXPress, then went over it to correct every scanning mistake and turn every straight quotation mark into a curly one) pretty much in slow motion. And I misted up every time.

Needless to say, in dramatizing his prose, you lose some of the effect, but if you don't feel the odd pang while listening to this adaptation of "A Saucer of Loneliness," you might want to get a DNA test so you know just which non-human species you belong to.

A note about the adaptation: the first-person narrator isn't a reporter in the original story. In fact, he's only in it at all at the beginning and end—the rest is his account of what the woman told him on the beach. I suppose the change makes sense from a structural point of view. What was description can now be dialogue—between him and the woman, between him and his editor—but it does kind of turn it into his story. And I think there's something poignant about his only knowing her from the accounts in the papers, and her message in a bottle, and yet feeling such a connection that it brought him to that beach. The impact isn't so great if he's known her personally since the day the saucer arrived.

Speaking of poignancy, the title "A Saucer of Loneliness" is so evocative in itself that I'd read the whole story before it struck me that it referred to the flying saucer. I just had this image in my head of a dish full of loneliness. I pictured it inky and black, thin and cold.

No comments: