The Twilight Zone Radio Dramas, Volume 1 [Books]

twilight zoneCan you tell I am absolutely loving Audible?

I try to mix up what I get, and so far I’ve tried non-fiction, full cast, fiction single person narration, and now The Twilight Zone Radio Dramas. Having grown up in the UK, The Twilight Zone wasn’t something I had access to. Not long after we first got together, I got the first ever series on DVD for me and my boyfriend, and we’ve been very slowly making our way through them.

As such, I have never actually heard the radio series before, and was excited to dive in. All except one of these stories were completely new to me, with Long Live Walter Jameson being the one I knew, as it is in the first series of the television show.

The stories contained in this volume are Night Call, Long Live Walter Jameson, The Lateness of the Hour, The 30-Fathom Grave, The Man in the Bottle, and Night of the Meek. Just like in the TV show, the characters range from the likeable and sympathetic, to the kind you’re not sure about and are off-put by. Others fall in the middle, keeping the listener on their toes regarding the characters until, perhaps, the final revelation.

Night Call is a creepy yet ultimately sweet story, focusing on an elderly woman who receives strange calls, though the people around her try to dismiss them as accidents, she knows they are something more.  Long Live Walter Jameson is about a history teacher who talks about the past as if he actually lived it. Even though I’d seen this play out in the TV series and therefore knew the twist, it was really interesting to revisit this in audio, when the clues have to be presented more carefully without the reliance on sight.

The Lateness of the Hour doesn’t have the most hard to spot twist – none of these really do – but the story is entertaining and engaging, and it’s hard not to feel for the characters presented here. It’s a story about a young woman growing up and growing curious, and the father who wishes to keep her at his side. Similarly, The 30-Fathom Grave has an ending in some ways easy to see, but it’s the little extra bits that make it worthwhile. It’s about a naval destroyer picking up signals from a ship that sunk twenty years before, and this one is honestly creepy.

The Man in the Bottle shows just how tricky genies can be, focusing on a kindly yet impoverished pawnbroker who is sometimes perhaps a bit too generous. When he gets four wishes, he tries to ensure they are carried out exactly as he wants, but even that isn’t enough. There was a lot going on in this one, and I found myself quickly wrapped up in the story, trying to work out what the next wish would be and how exactly it would go wrong.

Finally, Night of the Meek rounds off the volume with a story about Christmas, Santa and Christmas miracles. This was a sweet, heartwarming story about a department store Santa who just doesn’t have it in him to spread Christmas cheer, until he discovers a sack of presents which seems to contain exactly what people want most for Christmas. This was a good story to end the volume, really nicely showing how the smallest of gifts can go a long way, and how important hope is.

I really enjoyed listening to these radio dramas, and it was a great way to get a different type of storytelling from The Twilight Zone, with all the elements of an audio production done really well. Without a doubt I’ll be listening to Volume Two at some point in the future.

Season of Wonder – Edited by Paula Guran

season of wonderSeason of Wonder is a winter holiday themed anthology, bringing together fantasy and science fiction stories centred around the darkest months. Christmas isn’t the only holiday contained in these stories, but it is the most prominent. Still, as a whole, I think this is a great festive read.

The stories vary enough to give a little something for everyone, with a mixture of science fiction, fantasy, and even some horror elements thrown in. There’s robots caring for the last man on Earth, a post-apocalypse society ruled by religion, a young boy who stands against an evil elf, a young woman who gets caught in the battle between the Holly and Oak king, a woman on a distant planet introduces the inhabitants to Christmas, and a story of mental health, a woman who believes in magic, told through the eyes of her best friend.

The absolute stand out story for me was The Christmas Witch, a story which uses horror and fantasy to do one of my favourite things those genres are capable of; drawing parallels to very real situations, and reflecting issues often faced, especially by younger people. In this story, a young girl grieves the death of her mother, and lashes out in her own way, but the adults all seem to turn a blind eye. Her father tries to help, but not in the best way, and no one actually listens to her. It’s a fantastic read, and one hard to forget.

Pal Of Mine was also particularly good, one of those stories where the fantastical element is in doubt, right until the very end. It was wonderfully written, and very bittersweet.

Home for Christmas is a very sweet story, about a young woman who can talk to objects. It’s wonderfully written, draws you right in with the MC and her unusual ability, and shows how even small acts of kindness can have a lasting impact.

Others I particularly enjoyed, and would have liked to have read more about their worlds, were The Night Things Changed and The Nutcracker Coup. Both wonderful tales with fantastic world building, especially for short stories.

Everytime I think I’ve listed the ones I really liked, more pop into my head. Okay, last one, I swear. Newsletter, the final story in the anthology, is another great read – it’s witty and engaging and had me laughing out loud at the last line. And it’s a really interesting way of telling the story, combined with an uncertainty at the end, leaving the reader with multiple questions, and no answers except for whatever they decide in their head.

I really do recommend this collection. It has interesting portrayals of Christmas and the various aspects associated with the holiday, with more than one take on Santa Claus and the legend of. It was an enjoyable, fun, sometimes downright dark collection, with stories to both warm your heart on these cold winter evenings, and make you snuggle under the covers, glad you’re safe in your bed.