Journey into Space: Operation Luna (7xCDs, AudioGo/BBC)
Journey into Space: The Red Planet (10xCDs, AudioGo/BBC)
Journey into Space: The World in Peril (12xCDs, AudioGo/BBC)
[Each sold separately]
Space faring adventures from the golden age of radio science fiction.
Charles Chilton’s vintage, epic space opera Journey into Space has been repackaged on CD once more, with fantastic bonus material that puts the show (that ran between 1953 and 1958) into context.
Operation Luna is a re-recording of the earlier, lost 13 episode Journey to the Moon series that saw Jet Morgan and his sidekick Lemmy blast off to explore Earth’s natural satellite. Wisely, the remake ditches the first four Earthbound episodes and gets straight on with the space action.
As suggested by the title, The Red Planet sees the gang set off for Mars. After various escapades en route, they finally arrive in the eighth episode and explore an ancient ruined city. Elements of this echo Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, as the astronauts discover an ordinary home and a couple who think they are living in Australia in 1939. The Martians are revealed as alien spheres, and the series ends on a climax that sees an invasion of Earth launched.
The World in Peril picks up that thread, as Jet and crew flee the red planet with the Martian spheres in hot pursuit. Back in Earth space, the thwarting of the Martian attack is central to the third and final series. It’s exciting if overstretched stuff, and brings the adventures of these plucky British space heroes to a conclusion.
Bonus material includes a half hour documentary and a PDF booklet on Operation Luna, a 10-minute Round Midnight interview with writer Chiltern and another PDF booklet on The Red Planet and The World in Peril boast, alongside the cutomary PDF booklet, the 90-minute sequel Return from Mars and a Radio 4 Archive Hour feature on the show.
Verdict: Sometimes a bit clunky and old-fashioned, this is nonetheless genuine, vintage ‘sense of wonder’ science fiction from the golden age.
Part 1, ‘Operation Luna’: 6/10
Part 2, ‘The Red Planet’: 7/10
Part 3, ‘The World in Peril’: 7/10
Brian J. Robb