BBC Radio 4's Dangerous Visions has kicked off a series of stunning SFF radio dramas taking a look at dystopian futures. It will feature a total of 11 dramatizations and runs from 14 June to 29 June. You have 7 days after the initial broadcast to listen to them via BBC iPlayer.
My personal favourites so far have been the brilliantly done adaptation of Bradbury's The Illustrated Man, the first episode of Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Lauren Beukes' wonderfully weird tale, The Problem With Talitha, which explores the concept of entertainment being taken too far. I loved the reference to "weapons of mass distraction".
The dramatizations really bring the stories to vivid life and even the stories I'm familiar with were cast into a completely different light. I can highly recommend setting aside some time to listen to them. You won't be disappointed.
***The full schedule is below. Times are in GMT and I've included links to the episodes which have already been broadcast.
The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
(Saturday 14 June, 2.30pm - Saturday Drama)
This year’s first ‘Dangerous Vision’ - dramatised by Brian Sibley - stars Iain Glen as the Illustrated Man and Jamie Parker as the Youth. A tattooed man is the resident freak-show attraction in a travelling carnival. As he shows a curious visitor around the circus he reluctantly agrees to tell the story behind the illustrations carved into his skin which come to life after dark and have the powers of prophecy.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
(Sunday 15 June, 3.00pm & Sunday 22 June, 3.00pm - Classic Serial)
In this seminal Philip K Dick novel that inspired Blade Runner, earth has been ravaged by nuclear war. Expensive cloned creatures grown in backstreet labs recall a time before radiation destroyed the animals. Emigrants stream to off-world colonies. Humanoid robots known as androids are banned from earth. We track forty-eight hours in the life of Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter hired to 'retire' three Nexus-6 androids who've escaped off-world lives as slaves and returned to earth. Starring: James Purefoy and Jessica Raine.
The Problem With Talitha
(Sunday 15 June, 12:30am)
Sex as an opiate for the masses is taken to a whole new level in Lauren Beukes' celebrity-obsessed dystopia where every second of a star's life is filmed and recorded for consumers to plug into and experience at first-hand. Talitha Calix, a South African reality TV star, has become a worldwide phenomenon; people are riveted by the soap opera that is her love life. When a hacker group of obsessive fans decide to bring the network down and give Talitha an hour of privacy a whole new world of possibilities opens up to her but will she be allowed to walk away from the limelight?
The Bee Maker
(Monday 16 June, 2.15pm - Afternoon Drama)
It's 2020 and the bees are nearly all gone. Human beings might be next. Robotics expert, Deborah, builds artificial bees in order to help pollinate fruit trees across the world - real bees having been driven to the brink of extinction. But then a strange phenomenon strikes mankind - people start getting lost. It happens slowly, people lose their way, forget where they are. Society starts to crumble. Deborah must fight her way across an apocalyptic Britain and find her way back home. But first she must remember where that is. A dark and cautionary tale about our busy technology-filled lives starring Alice Lowe and Harriet Walter.
(Tuesday 17 June 2.30pm - Afternoon Drama)
One man risks everything in order to find the woman he loves - a woman he has only met in a virtual world. In 2091, British citizens are living in 24-hour curfew, confined to solitary housing units and communicating entirely through virtual worlds. Students Lee and Iz have been dating each other virtually for three years, but when Lee fails an important exam, he is suddenly cut off from Iz and everything he knows. He sets out on a journey across a deserted England, determined to find the real Iz. Sacha Dhawan, Sian Phillips and Jaimi Barbakoff star in Miranda Emmerson's disquieting new thriller.
(Wednesday 18 June & Thursday 19 June, 2.15pm - Afternoon Drama)
Where do the 'dangerous disappeared' disappear to: the escaped prisoner; the hunted terrorist; the fraudster on the run; the murderer; the criminal who has betrayed his partners? They disappear into The Zone, a mysterious microcosm of our febrile world that has its own currency (blood), its own laws, its own security, its own lethal culture. Turner, who operates in that no-man's-land between legal and criminal, enters The Zone by accident. He is desperate to escape back to the city. When he does, why is he obsessively drawn back, knowing that he is a marked man, and that being in The Zone that can only mean one thing? Written by the BAFTA award-winning writer Trevor Preston.
The Two Georges
(Friday 20 June, 2.15pm - Afternoon Drama)
In 1955, the fledgling science fiction writer Philip K. Dick and his wife Kleo received a visit at their California home from two FBI agents, which they believed to be a result of Kleo's left-wing activities. The consequences of the visit are largely unclear, with conflicting accounts suggesting that the couple were asked to spy on college radicals, travel to Mexico, and even that one of the FBI agents taught Dick how to drive.
Using this biographic encounter as its starting point, The Two Georges is a playful and fantastical story, Dick-esque in its absurdity, that sees the sci-fi writer partner up with an FBI Agent to uncover a devilish conspiracy that strikes at the heart of Cold War McCarthyite America.
The Martian Chronicles
(Saturday 21 June, 2.30pm - Saturday Drama)
When the first expedition to Mars mysteriously disappears, Earth sends a second to find out what happened. The real mission is classified however, and only Captain Wilder knows the truth. Derek Jacobi and Hayley Atwell lead an all-star cast in a thrilling new re-imagining of Ray Bradbury's timeless fable of doomed Martian colonisation. Exec. produced by Dirk Maggs.
A Message of Unknown Purpose
(Sunday 22 June, 12.30am)
Peter Marinker reads Tao Lin's curious tale about the discovery of a message from the future in which an elderly prisoner talks about the invention and misuse of a sleep machine. "In 2042, after major worldwide catastrophes in the second and third decades of the 21st century, the world is drastically different. It's much, much worse and maybe more exciting, depending on who you ask." A vision emerges of a society addicted to sleep.
(Friday 27 June, 9.00pm)
A dangerous obsession with immersive virtual reality games has deadly consequences. In the near future Harry is obsessed with totally immersive virtual reality gaming. Then one day he wakes up with a dead body lying next to him bed. All evidence points to the fact that Harry is the killer. Harry even remembers doing it. But why? Did the violence of the games give him his gruesome blood lust? Or is something far more sinister going on? Slowly Harry uncovers a conspiracy that has its roots in the illicit underbelly of the Internet. Sex, violence and virtual reality combine in this futuristic thriller starring Bryan Dick and Steve Oram.
(Sunday 29 June, 12.30am)
Matt Haig's vision in which a man wonders from his cage in a zoo what it means to be human. In a letter to his daughter he describes the events leading up to the moment humankind's supremacy came to an end. Read by Barnaby Kay.
They really are very, very good. Don't miss out!