Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Radio Greats: Skulking Permit (X Minus One)

Of the more comic episodes of X Minus One, the one that probably stands out most is "Skulking Permit". Robert Sheckley's satirical short story, "Skulking Permit", first appeared in 1954 in Galaxy Science Fiction. It's a mildly amusing story; most people like it, although it's usually not considered his strongest comic story. However, it is almost perfect for radio adaptation. And X Minus One's adaptation is an excellent one. The actors really make it come alive, in part by so very genuine and sincere in their approach to their characters; and it is very funny.

We find ourselves on the stellar colony of New Delaware, which has been separated from earth for over 200 years. They haven't heard much from Earth at all in that time, but recently they've been notified that Earth is coming for an inspection, to guarantee that there are no aliens among them and that they are fully loyal to Earth and her traditions. They don't quite know what an 'alien' is, but they know Earth means business, so they are set on making sure that they make a good impression. The thing of it is, they know from old books that their culture is not very Earth-like, so they're going to have to make it up whole cloth. A lot of it they can fake. But the real test is whether they can pull off one of the most important and influential of all these strange Earth traditions, the one that all the old books never stop talking about: crime.

You can listen to "Skulking Permit" online at My Old Radio.

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