I’m sure most of you have heard of Journey into Space, even if you have never actually heard it. This was certainly my own situation. I knew of the series, and was vaguely aware of the high regard it was held in, but that was about it.
So, when I put the first disc on to listen to it, I was expecting something very much of it’s time. I was prepared for something entertaining, but – to be frank – past its sell-by date.
What I was not prepared for however, was just how very good this is.
And what’s so good about it?
Well, while it is true there are some astounding anachronisms in there, like while they’re running low on oxygen in the ship they resolve to smoke just one cigarette each, these are vastly outweighed by the sheer breadth of ideas in here.
As I listened, without reading the liner notes, I assumed that this was recorded in the mid-sixties. It was incredible to discover that it had actually been originally broadcast in 1953! This was before Laika blasted into space and almost a decade before Yuri Gagarin made history. Too complicated to go into here- look it up on Wiki!
In light of this, the amount of detail that Charles Chilton gets right is nothing short of astounding. Even from our perspective fifty years of scientific discovery later, Chilton’s explanations of faster than light travel, time and space early man still hold up pretty well.
And yes, of course there are some things he gets wrong- like the surface of the moon for example- but these things do not matter.
This is because the story is so very strong. It starts with a few slow episodes, but things quickly pick up once we get to the moon and things start to go… strange. There is one standout sequence with the crew in their capsule on the moon when they hear something outside the ship, banging on the door. It is brilliantly written and performed, and managed to disturb me while driving on a summer day, so heaven knows how it must have terrified the listening audience at the time!
The story twists and turns in an expert fashion, with some delightful cliff hangers, well written and acted characters and well thought out and believable situations.
I really loved this. I did not expect to, buy as I got towards the end, and the final couple of discs, I found myself almost reluctant to listen to them because I didn’t want it to end.
But end it did, and an a nice note that promises more, which I hope AudioGo will release in time.
The set also contains a shot Radio 4 documentary featuring interviews with some of the surviving cast and crew.
A great package, and one well worth the time and effort of any serious sci-fi fan. Or indeed any non-serious one who likes to be entertained!