Saturday, June 6, 2009

Audio Science Fiction at Alchemist Theatre

By Russ Bickerstaff
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On June 26th, Alchemist Theatre presents yet another opporunity to have a vaguely strange experience with a group of people in a theatre—a pre-recorded science-fiction radio play. Aaron Kopec’s DRAKER 33 is a half hour audio work written by Alchemist’s Aaron Kopec.

The premise feels like kind of a throwback to an earlier era in science fiction—in a future where automation has eliminated any need for manual labor, a net-based fact checking system eliminates any fabrications, falsifications or embellishments from communal knowledge. In a world of instant, precise communication, the art of storytelling is lost. All is tidy and dystopian until a robot seemingly acquires artificial intelligence and attempts to re-introduce certain basic human needs into society. The half hour audio play features the voice talents of Off the Wall Theatre tech guy David Roper and sound design (music and sound effects) by Nagasaki Gold

Kopec will be playing it on the Alchemist Theatre’s sound system on June 26th at 7:30pm. Admission is $3.

Being someone who has an odd fascination with sci-fi radio drama, I’m particularly disappointed to be missing this one. (Though not too disappointed, I’ll be in Spring Green on the 26th. . . ) Roper has a remarkably warm voice . . .warm enough to carry a story quite well. The sound system at the Alchemist has more than enough depth enough to take center stage for a half hour. Rarely do people go to communally listen to pre-recorded drama. It could be kind of an interesting atmosphere.

The story Kopec describes here has vague thematic connections with a few episodes of the old '50's NBC sci-fi radio anthology X Minus One, which have fallen into public domain and are freely available on the web..

A Logic Named Joe was an interesting little bit of prediction on the part of author Murray Leinster. Originally published in 1946, the story anticipated the internet and the personal computer . . . sort of . . . the 1950 radio adaptation is good, kitschy fun.

There Will Come Soft Rains was a particularly dark look at automation after a nuclear holocaust by Ray Bradbury that had been turned into one of the darker episodes of the series.

Midwestern author Clifford Simak’s How – 2 is an odd initial study in the type of thing later popularized in films. A normal household android suffering from AI strategically gets out of control. Something of a precursor to Hal-9000 and Skynet. . .

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