Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Tales of Tomorrow was an early television effort to bring adult science fiction to the medium.  Eighty-five episodes were filmed beginning on August 3, 1951.  The very first episode was a live telecast of Theodore Sturgeon's story And the Sky Was Full of Ships, retitled Verdict from Space and with a script by Sturgeon.  The episode was directed by Leonard Valente and featured Len McCallister, Martin Brendt, William Lally, Bernard Lenrow, and Watson White.    (Interestingly, the technical director appears to be Walter Kubilius, someone science fiction writer and one-time Futurian.)

The previous year, Sturgeon had adapted the story for a proposed radio show Beyond Tomorrow that may or may not have been aired.  Only three episodes were taped, along with a preview show.  What was cool here is that the host of the show was none other John W. Campbell, Jr., the legendary editor of Astounding Science Fiction.  Episode One adapted a Robart A. Heinlein story; Episode Three a story by Graham Doar; in between was Sturgeon's story.  From the radio show Beyond Tomorrow, here's another version written by Sturgeon, titled  Incident at Switchpath.  (Also included at the link are three episodes from the radio show Exploring Tomorrow.  These episode include Liar [from an Isaac Asimove story], Mimic [scripted by Robert Silverberg from his novel Invaders from Earth], and The Trouble with Robots [ also known as New Transylvania or The Hunting Lodge, from Randall Garrett's story, The Hunting Lodge].  Exploring Tomorrow was also hosted by John W. Campbell. Jr.) )

Incident at Switchpath was directed by Mitchell Grayson and features Bret Morrison (who also played The Shadow for ten years on radio) and Michael O'Day.

The source story was originally published in Thrilling Wonder Stories in June 1947.  It's been reprinted in Judith Merril's Shot in the Dark (1950), in Damon Knight's The Shape of Things (1965), and in Helen Tono's S-F Yearbook #1 (1967), as well as (under the title The Cave of History) in both George W. Earley's Encounter with Aliens (1968) and Peter Haining's The Ancient Mysteries Reader (1975).  It has also been included in  the collections The Worlds of Theodore Sturgeon (1972) and Thunder and Roses:  the Collected Stories of Theodore Sturgeon, Volume IV (1997).  But nothing beats reading the story in its original pulp appearance, so here's the June 1947 issue of TWS, with  the original magazine version of The Sky Was Full of Ships.  (As a bonus, this issue has three stories by "Murray Leinster" -- as "Leinster," as "William Fitzgerald," and under his real name, Will F. Jenkins -- and stories by Federik Pohl [as "James McCreigh"], Henry Kuttner [as "Hudson Hastings"], and Jerry Shelton.  And in the Letters column this issue are letters from future writers Marion E. Zimmer [pre-"Bradley"] and Lin Carter, as well as from well-known fans Rick Sneary and Redd Boggs, among others.)

For more Overlooked Stuff for today, check out Todd Mason's blog Sweet Freedom, where he will have all the links.


  1. DIMENSION X or X MINUS ONE did a version (iirc), unless I'm conflating it with this one, where the actor given the title line is Very Careful to enunciate "The sky is full of shipppsss!" for fear of sounding like something that the FCC would find very unamusing in those years...

    1. I wonder what that would be, Todd? I'm reminded of the Groton Connecticut newspaper whose headline was supposed to read "NAVY LAUNCHES BIG SHIP" but didn't.

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