SF 68

, a short-lived series from—appropriately enough—1968, originated in South Africa and was produced and directed by the dean of radio drama in that country, Michael McCabe. SF 68 featured stories from established science fiction writers, drawing inspiration from the likes of Bradbury, Ellison, and Leinster. Most of the copies which have reached North America are somewhat scratchy and garbled (at least the ones I've been able to hear), which is unfortunate, since the shows were well made and the stories interesting. The series was dropped in favor of a mystery/horror series called Beyond Midnight, whose run was far more successful. According to Relic Radio, 33 episodes were produced. All episodes of SF 68 are in half-hour format.

Sources used to create my own log and double-check titles, dates and cast members: Relic Radio, and Internet Speculative Fiction Database.

Currently this archive contains 19 of 33 plotlines and 18 reviews

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Andover and the Android

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Robots
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Kate Wilhelm, 1963

A rising young executive is told he will never be promoted to the presidency unless he marries. As a confirmed bachelor he finds this ultimatum offensive, and opts for blackmailing an engineer into creating an illegal, custom-made android instead.

See also: "Marionettes, Inc." (Dimension X and X Minus One), and "Prime Difference" (X Minus One)

Snippet: "Not quite, normal? Just because I love my music and my books. Just because I've yet to meet a woman who can possibly share my interests without cluttering up my life with a lot of nonsense about changing the flat and... having a tribe of messy kids clambering over everything. Stuart, I can't abide women."

Reviews:
Fair audio quality. A reasonably good story with moderately restrained acting and a predictable ending. To be fair, the plot has very little action and is well suited for the more cerebral radio series like Mindwebs and SF 68. The pacing and emphasis are very similar to stories produced later for the Beyond Midnight canon, so if you like that series you might like this story. Entertaining. [7/10] --- zM

Answer, The

aka: "The Answer: A Fable for Our Times"
Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Super Science
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Philip Wylie, 1955

Time: 1950s, during the Cold War. The United States and the Soviet Union rush headlong into testing larger and more powerful nuclear weapons in a sort of mania far out of proportion to the goals they wish to achieve. Voices cry out in protest, but they are too late. Or are they?

Snippet: "Well gentlemen, there in the lonely ocean is the target, on the horizon. That island was created by volcanic cataclysm millions of years ago. Today it is destined to vanish off the face of the sea. Somewhere, a hundred thousand feet above us, a B-111 is closing in. The big bomb will fall, and a-'poof'."

Reviews:
Very poor audio quality makes this episode a real challenge. Although I was able to follow the plot, many details were lost; those details could have made the difference between a rating of 6 and a rating of 8. The conflict between East and West acts as a motivating force, driving the government leaders to make decisions against their better judgment. The identity of the resulting casualties and the nature of the messages they bring are both important, but the impact when they are revealed is blunted by muffled audio. [6/10] --- zM

Bliss of Solitude, The    *LOST*

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by:

Reviews:

Breaking Strain    *LOST*

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Space Travel
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by: Arthur C. Clarke ??

Not sure if this is the Arthur C. Clarke story or not.

Reviews:

Cage, The

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Aliens, Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: A. Bertram Chandler, 1957

The space exploration vessel Lode Star, crash lands on a distant world far from the space lanes. Several years later, the survivors are 'rescued' by aliens who think they are indigenous animals. The humans struggle to convince their wholly-alien captors that they are rational beings and don't deserve to be kept in cages. Not an easy thing to do when they don't speak the aliens' language!

Versions were produced for Mindwebs and SF 68.

Snippet: "I thought you'd realized. They think we're animals. They don't consider us intelligent."

Reviews:
Very poor audio quality. The main difference between the Mindwebs and SF 68 versions is that the Mindwebs version is a reading while the SF 68 version is a dramatization. Within that context, both are quite true to the original story. The Mindwebs version, however, focuses on the primitive conditions that the survivors endure, whereas the SF 68 version focuses more on the conditions after their captivity. Both versions have the same great ending... an ending that answers the question: what universal behaviour is manifested by all rational beings? I prefer the Mindwebs version because the sound quality is far, far better and the 'reading' format allows greater descriptive detail to be presented. Mindwebs [7/10]; SF 68 [6/10] --- zM

Castaway, The

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Murray Leinster, 1953

When an alien lands in a remote rural area, the local yokels decide the best way to get interstellar relations off on the right foot is to hunt it down and kill it. The alien expresses its desire for peace and friendship... but everybody knows you can't trust aliens.

See also: "First Contact" (Dimension X, Exploring Tomorrow, X Minus One)

Snippet: My scalp crawls at the thought of you sittin' there and talking to me and you're NOT a man, but I'll be sorry for you... even while I try and kill you.

Reviews:
Poor audio quality. Written in the 1953, this episode reflects the tremendous distrust that was common during the Cold War. My first impression was that the story was dated and stereotypical, but as the story progressed I realized it was much more relevant to our modern times than I was comfortable admitting. In some ways, we haven't made any progress in the last 65 years... that's discouraging. [8/10] --- zM

Chronoclasm    *LOST*

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by:

Reviews:

Cold Equations, The    *LOST*

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Space Travel
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by: Tom Godwin ??

Not sure if this is the Tom Godwin story or not.

Reviews:

Death Dust, The

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Frank Harvey, 1959

A crew of three astronauts, aboard the spaceship Supernova, are the first humans to travel to the moon and back: Major Dick Rivero (co-pilot and astrogator), Dr Charles Perris (medical and human-factors specialist), and Major James Casey (the aircraft commander).

The NASA website contains detailed information about the history of the space program, including many photographs and fantastic interviews with some of the astronauts: The First Lunar Landing: As Told by the Astronauts and Apollo Expeditions to the Moon. It is very interesting to compare the thoughts of the astronauts in this episode with those of the real astronauts Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins. Note: as of Jan 2017, 7 of the 12 Apollo astronauts who walked on the moon are still alive; they are all over 80 years old.--- webmaster

Snippet: The moon. Men through all ages had looked at the moon, marvelled at the cold, virginal beauty of the moon, wondered what was on the moon, in the moon, and we were coming down on the moon. Down in one corner of a flat area which the astronomers call Mare Imbrium. It looked like a mud flat after a bunch of kids had tossed a load of junk into it. There were [streams] of tiny holes such as water droplets would make, there were cozy [caps] like the imprints of pebbles. And there were wide pie-crust craters. The whole area was baked hard and white.

Reviews:
Poor audio quality. A very simple plot which draws its sense of horror from the unknown nature of the Unknown. Consequently, much of the suspense is given away by the story's title. The beauty of this episode, however, is not found in suspense, but in the details. Written in 1959, ten years before the first moon landing, and broadcast a full 18 months before that landing, The Death Dust presents remarkable detail about the mechanics of travelling to the moon and the concerns that the first astronauts would have had (e.g., moon dust might so thick that their spacecraft might sink and and not be able to lift off; the crew might carry some sort of virus or life-form from the moon back to Earth; one or two degrees of error in path angle could throw them off their target by thousands of miles.) Well-written with solid acting. Subtractors for a clearly-foreshadowed ending, but adders for remarkable detail. So, go back to that time before spaceflight and try to imagine the very first lunar landing... [7/10] --- zM

End of Summer, The    *LOST*

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by:

Reviews:

Escape Mechanism    *LOST*

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by:

Reviews:

Eye of the Beholder    *LOST*

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by:

Reviews:

From up There    *LOST*

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by:

Reviews:

Grenville's Planet

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Michael Shaara, 1952

Two galactic explorers from Mapping Command stumble across a one-in-a-million rarity: a world covered by ocean. A closer examination reveals a pair of enigmatic islands where strange events begin to occur... and inexplicably, there appear to be mammals living on one of the islands even though tidal floods would surely have destroyed any sea-based organisms before evolving into land-based forms.

See also: "The Silver Sky" (BBC).

Snippet: Wisha didn't see the brightness because he was back aft, alone. He sat quietly, relaxed, He wasn't bored. It was just that he had no interest. After 14 years in the Mapping Command, even the strangest of the new worlds was routine to him. What little imagination he had was beginning to center upon a small farm he had seen on the southern plains of Vega 5. The brightness that Wisha didn't see, grew with the passing moments. A pale young man named Grenville, who was Wisha's crew man, watched it for a long while, absently. When the glean took on brilliance of the blue-white dazzling-blaze, Grenville started. He stared at the screen for a long moment, then carefully checked the distance. Still a few light minutes away, the planet was already uncommonly bright. A blueness and the brightness flowed in together. It was the most beautiful thing Grenville had ever seen.

Reviews:
Poor audio quality makes this episode difficult in spots. A slow moving, thoughtful tale with a strong sense of mystery. The Plot Spot says to see also: "The Silver Sky". On the basis of that I was expecting some sort of time travel story. It's not. What this story shares with "The Silver Sky" is the sense of wonder and mystery involved in exploring the unknown. The ending was a little bit of a let down... but the story was imaginative and well-produced. [7/10] -- zM

Homecoming

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arthur Sellings, 1968

A man awakes after a terrible accident with a strange sort of amnesia. He is inside a vehicle, with a woman beside him. With her aid, he slowly begins to remember details: his name is Sam Bishop; she is his wife, Neena; he has been in the hospital; they are returning home—to the house where he was born and which they now share, a house in a town called Greenville; he has lost his legs; he is 34, she 27; he's an only child, both his parents are dead. He tries to rebuild his life, but things seem odd. He tries to get his old job back at the factory, but the job has already been filled. He tries to buy an automobile to leave Greenville, but he is told it is against the law because of his artificial legs. Gradually he suspects there is more going on than he is allowed to learn. Is he in a prison? An asylum? Memories slowly awaken... a mystery is revealed... and then resolved.

I'm Sam... that's my name... not Bishop... not Bishop... my name's Sam Pounce. I never saw Greenville in my life before. Never! ... [a quick trip to one] star... [?] Colonel Sam Pounce. I went to... seek... to seek a fortune... [?] lost in space... I got back... I got back to Earth... where I am now, Earth... [?] a prisoner... why am I a prisoner? I couldn't help failing my mission... I couldn't help failing... I was the first... there are always failures... always...

Reviews:
Very poor audio quality made this episode quite challenging; large portions were completely unintelligible. I managed to eek out the major plot developments, but the details are still sketchy. This is a slow-moving tale full of mystery, with very good pacing which slowly builds to an unexpected conclusion. This could very easily have been made into a Twilight Zone episode. With good audio quality I'd bump my rating up a notch. [7/10] --- zM

Jenny with Wings

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Fantasy
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Kate Wilhelm, 1963

A young woman who was born with wings, finds herself an outcast -- protected by her father but alienated from the rest of humanity. When her father dies and she stares into the bleak future, she despairs... until love smiles back. Or is that a sadistic grin?

"...sometimes I wish I was just like all the others."

Reviews:
Poor audio quality. Jenny tells the tale of her life: from a fragile childhood full of doubt and uncertainty, fear and mistrust... to adulthood, when she finally falls in love for the first time. This is a highly emotional tale, but I never felt connected. The result is weak and lacks impact. The story has great potential, but this adaptation doesn't quite pull it off. I'd love to hear Joan Lorring or Clare Corbett tell this tale! [5/10] --- zM

Last Rites

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Charles Beaumont, 1955

A Catholic priest answers the desperate summons of a dying and lifelong friend (George) who has a seemingly impossible secret he must reveal before the end comes. The end is near; his need is urgent; the priest is skeptical.

Snippet: "You know my views on this subject. Even if they could create a creature like this, I still say they'll never create a machine that's capable of abstract thought. Human intelligence is a spiritual thing, and it can't be duplicated by man." --- the priest

Reviews:
Some radio dramas seem like wannabe "My Dinner with Andre" audio movies. Two guys forever yakking it up in a boring talkathon. Not so here. Yes. it's just two guys talking, ah, but what do they talk about? Life, death, spirituality, the Soul, technological shock, social shock—in what could possibly be a literal and troubling prognostication of a very Asimov-like future. --- Bruce Fisher

Fair audio quality. An abstract philosophical discussion about consciousness, identity, and humanity. Well-written and well-acted, but very slow moving. If you enjoy abstract discussions, you may enjoy this one; if not, then skip on down to "A Sound of Thunder". [8/10] --- zM

New Wine, The

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Future Earth, Dystopia
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: John Christopher, 1955

Harve and Helen spend a quiet spring afternoon together before parting: Harve to travel on an 8-year interstellar mission (returning 100 years hence, due to relativistic effects) and Helen to stay on Earth and pursue her own experiments. When the interstellar mission returns, the crew find the Earth oddly depopulated and wonder about Helen's experiments.

Snippet: "There will be no wives for you in the world of 2129." --- Helen

Reviews:

Fair audio quality. I found this an oddly touching story; two people who love each other (but love their work more) separate, knowing full-well how much they sacrifice, but hoping, in the process, to grasp something beyond value. Harve jokes that he will look up Helen's great-great-grand-daughter upon his return. Helen replies, "There will be no wives for you in the world of 2129"... meaning that her experiments will change the world so much that women of 2129 will have nothing in common with men from 100 years earlier. The beginning of the story is bittersweet and reminds me of that great song by Queen:

'39 by Queen (Brian May)

In the year of '39 assembled here the volunteers
In the days when lands were few
Here the ship sailed out into the blue and sunny morn
The sweetest sight ever seen.

And the night followed day
And the story tellers say
That the score brave souls inside
For many a lonely day sailed across the milky seas
Ne'er looked back, never feared, never cried.

Don't you hear my call though you're many years away
Don't you hear me calling you
Write your letters in the sand
For the day I take your hand
In the land that our grandchildren knew.

In the year of '39 came a ship in from the blue
The volunteers came home that day
And they bring good news of a world so newly born
Though their hearts so heavily weigh.

For the earth is old and grey, little darlin', we'll away
But my love this cannot be
For so many years have gone though I'm older but a year
Your mother's eyes from your eyes cry to me.

Don't you hear my call though you're many years away
Don't you hear me calling you
All your letters in the sand cannot heal me like your hand.

For my life
Still ahead
Pity Me.

[7/10] --- zM

Outcasts, The    *LOST*

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by:

Reviews:

Quest

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Lee Harding, 1963

In a future Megalopolis run by machines, a man (Harry Johnson) searches for the meaning of life. When he discovers that his therapist is an android, his feelings of alienation intensify and drive him to search for something that will ground him to reality... something--anything--that has not been made by either man or machine.

Snippet: "Harry Johnson walked the city streets. Was Johnson expecting to see a tree? Or a flower bed? Ridiculous thought. Such things belonged in the mists of the shadowy past, the ugly past. But Johnson tried. He had set out upon a Quest."

Reviews:
Highly original SF social commentary about one man's odyssey for something "real". The best episode in this all too short series. Very well written, acted, and plotted and with a great, but disturbing "sound the alarm" -- hopefully incorrect -- very dire prediction in grand ole Sci-Fi tradition. --- Bruce Fisher

Fair audio quality. I found Johnson's voice whiny and unpleasant. It took some effort to push past that, but when I did, I discovered a story that was poignant and perceptive, yet predictable. As I listened, I remembered a recent drive through the Megalopolis where I live: one hundred twenty miles of concrete, steel, glass, and asphalt. I can sympathize with Harry. [6/10] --- zM

Requiem    *LOST*

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by: Robert Heinlein ??

Not sure if this is the Robert Heinlein story or not.

Reviews:

Risk Profession, The    *LOST*

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by:

Reviews:

Routine Exercise

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Time Travel
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Philip E. High, 1965

The crew of the nuclear submarine Torus, on a routine training exercise, experience some odd phenomena which suggest they may have travelled millions of years into the past. But if so, what is tracking them on sonar... and why is it closing in so fast?

Snippet: Tell the truth Captain. Two men's lives have been lost under peculiar circumstances during a routine exercise. And your vessel returns to base with the following deficiencies: in brief, a large quantity of ammunition, two torpedoes and, er... two hump-class missiles both with atomic warheads.

Reviews:
Poor audio quality. I have not read Philip High's original story; I suspect that significant background information was removed for this adaptation. As a result, I couldn't buy into the premise: the submarine crew is on a training mission, but as soon as an unexplained incident occurs, the captain loads live torpedoes into the tubes and starts blasting everything that moves. I understand that he is a military submarine captain and not a starship captain, but his response still seems extreme. I'd like to read High's original story to see if his written buildup justifies the captain's trigger-happy attitude. Aside from this, the programme was well-written and well-acted. The story moved swiftly and built to a surprising conclusion. [5/10] --- zM

Sands of Time, The    *LOST*

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by:

Reviews:

Sound of Thunder, A

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Time Travel
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ray Bradbury, 1952

Time Safari, Inc. offers time safaris to any year in the past. They guarantee you a crack at the most dangerous game that ever walked the Earth, but they don't guarantee you'll come back alive. But that's the allure of the hunt, isn't it? The thrill that comes from pursuing an animal that could easily kill you while you're busy killing it. From the year 2055, three hunting enthusiasts (Eckels, Billings, and Kramer) and two guides (Travis and Lesperance) head back to the Cretaceous, more than 60 million years ago, for the chance of a lifetime: an opportunity to bag a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

See also: "A Gun for Dinosaur" and "Project Mastodon" (both from X Minus One)

Snippet: "We don't want anyone going who will panic at the first shot. Six safari leaders were killed last year and a dozen hunters."

Reviews:
Markedly inferior to the version done for Bradbury 13. --- Jeff Dickson

Fair audio quality. Not a bad episode at all! This script is slightly different from the Bradbury 13 version (providing more back-story) and more closely follows Bradbury's original short story, but the final production can't match the brilliant soundscape or the excellent casting of Bradbury 13. What SF 68 describes... Bradbury 13 lets you hear. Very powerful. Would-be big-game hunter Eckels comes across as shaky and insecure. In the Bradbury 13 version he is characterized as cocky and arrogant. Not sure which interpretation I like more. Overall: well-done. If you are going to only listen to one version, head over to Bradbury 13, but if you are the type of person who likes to compare and contrast, then listen to this version, too. [7/10] --- zM

Space Cow, The

aka: "Country Doctor"
Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: William Morrison, 1953

Dr Meltzer, a small-time country doctor and veterinarian living in a rural area of Mars, is called to the space-port in response to an unusual emergency: a ship has returned from Ganymede bearing a leviathan no one has ever seen before. The animal measures 300 feet long and looks a bit like a Pershing dragon with a 30' wide mouth. And it's sick. The authorities want the doctor to don a spacesuit and enter the space cow's digestive tract to see what's wrong with it. The doctor is not amused.

Snippet: I haven't the slightest idea what the thing's like. How am I supposed to know what's wrong with it? How can I treat it?

Reviews:
Fair audio quality. Plot holes large enough to drive a space cow through. Oh well. A reasonably good story with reasonable acting. Moderately interestnig, but not engaging. [6/10] --- zM

Survival

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: John Wyndham, 1952

A spacecraft en route to Mars suffers a catastrophic malfunction. Adrift in space and with no communications grim decisions must be made. When a rescue party finally arrives they don’t find what they where expecting.

Another version of this story aired on Fear on 4.

Reviews:

Time to Rest    *LOST*

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by:

Reviews:

Voice in the Earphones    *LOST*

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by:

Reviews:

Wanted in Surgery

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Future Earth, Robots
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Harlan Ellison, 1957

A surgeon in the future resents the robotization of medicine, and resolves to take drastic action.

Reviews:

Watchbird

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Future Earth, Robots
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Sheckley, 1953

Scientists have discovered that murderers' brain waves, just before they commit murder, are slightly different from normal brainwaves and that these differences can be measured. Corporate engineers use this knowledge to design flying machines that soar above the city and monitor the brainwaves of every person walking the streets; when abnormal brainwaves are detected the watchbirds sweep into action. Unfortunately, not all murderers exhibit these brainwaves... so the final watchbird design includes learning circuits which allow the watchbirds to expand their definition of murder...

Versions were produced for 2000x, SF 68 and Tales of Tomorrow.

Snippet: "A simple, reliable answer to civilization's greatest problem, all wrapped and packaged in a pound of incorruptible metal, crystal, and plastic."

Reviews:
A morality play about the dangers of allowing intelligent machines to make moral decisions that should rightfully be made by humans. All three versions are well-written and well-produced. The 2000x version has, by far, the best soundscape. The Tales of Tomorrow version has the most detail and is most true to the written story. [SF 68] Poor audio quality. A simple story with a predictable conclusion. This adaptation tops in at a mere 20 minutes and suffers as a result: lacking the time required to add either depth or colour to make the story more interesting. The production is not bad... just not as good as either of the other two adaptations. 2000x [7/10]; SF 68 [6.5/10]; Tales of Tomorrow [7/10] --- zM

Will, The

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Walter M. Miller Jr, 1954



Reviews:

Yellow Pill, The    *LOST*

Year: 1968
Duration: 30 min
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: N
Story by:

Reviews: