The Shadow -- Night Without End

Saturday, 05 October 2013 16:00 Dave Truesdale

"What evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!"

The Shadow aired "Night Without End" on October 16, 1938, an episode that falls squarely into the realm of SF. A scientist has invented a machine that creates a shield of utter darkness, a man-made scientific fog of impenetrable blackness, his hope being to hide entire cities from night bombing raids during the war. The problem arises when it is stolen by a heartless thug who plunges New York City into this stygian darkness for three days. During this time all hell breaks loose:  doomsayers are crying their vindication in the streets that the end of the world is near, the weather bureau is besieged with calls as to the nature of the phenomenon, riots and looting rake the city, deaths begin to mount...and then comes the only clue to the mysterious blanketing fog, and it's from the maniac in possession of the stolen invention via a ransom note. Pay $5 million dollars or he'll add a deadly, poisonous gas to the fog and kill untold thousands unless his demands are met! Before time runs out the Shadow must find and overcome this most dastardly of evildoers, a conscienceless villain willing to murder thousands for money!

After listening to this scary, yet exciting adventure where all of New York City was in deadly peril, listeners had barely caught their collective breath when, not two short weeks later, CBS would present the infamous Orson Welles radio broadcast of October 30, 1938...a little something called "The War of the Worlds." Oh, the horror! The interesting connection between the two radio shows is that from September of 1937 (the debut of The Shadow on radio) until Bill Johnstone took over as the Shadow in late 1938, it was Orson Welles who had won the hearts and minds of children and adults alike as the voice of the Shadow.

"The weed of crime bears bitter fruit." --The Shadow

Play Time: 29:28

(The Shadow covers above: Left, February 15, 1938 -- Right, October 1, 1938. If you look closely at the lower left corner of the February 15th cover you will see: "Hook McGuire, Bowling Detective." I found this highly amusing, the fact that there even was a bowling detective in the first place, but it seems Hook McGuire stories were popular at least through 1938 for his stories are touted on several more covers that year.)

[While youngsters were getting their fix of The Shadow twice a month in the magazine and once a week on the radio, they still found time to gobble up more of their favorite reading with any number of pulps in 1938, a few of which are pictured below.]

{Left: Amazing, October 1938 -- Center: Thrilling Wonder, October 1938 -- Right: Weird Tales, October 1938}


{And of course, while your buddies sat crosslegged on the floor or sprawled across the bed in your bedroom readingThe Shadow and sharing their SF magazines on a Saturday morning (with mom hopefully out in the yard or gone to the corner store), there would always be some kid whose older brother in high school read something else, something secret and forbidden, a copy of which this kid swiped and brought along. This week it was the October 1938 issue of Spicy Detective Stories.}