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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Escape -- "Incident in Quito"

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Escape (1947-54) aired "Incident in Quito" on December 7, 1952 as the 173rd of its 251 episodes. A spinoff of the highly popular radio show Suspense (1942-62), Escape produced (according to one source) 251 episodes of which 241 were unique stories, plots, or scripts (the remaining 10 being rebroadcasts of earlier shows and not different versions of previous episodes). Escape concentrated on adventure tales, some with an SF/F theme, though the straight adventure tale set in exotic locales was its meat and potatoes. "Incident in Quito" is one such tale. It features an archeologist whose wife is his patron, sponsoring his digs and expeditions around the globe. Tired of his absence for weeks or months at a time, she insists on accompanying him on his latest journey to Quito, Ecuador, in search of shrunken heads. While there, and after complaining loudly at the lack of civilized accommodations, she tells him she will no longer pay for his expeditions and is calling a halt to the current one and their immediate return to civilization--just as her beleaguered husband is about to complete a difficult trade deal with the local tribal chief to secure the shrunken heads, a coup that will surely earn him a prominent position at his local university. What takes place next is the crux of this frightening tale, one set in the jungles of South America amidst a tribe of headhunters, and involves more than one twist you may not see coming.

Research reveals that while many cultures beheaded their enemies only the Jivaro residing in the jungles of Ecuador and Peru were known to shrink heads, so in this regard "Incident in Quito" is accurate as to place and practice. To learn the proper method for shrinking heads (as in the photo top right, which are actual shrunken heads from Ecuador), I refer curious parties to this page.

As usual with Suspense and Escape, the production values are high--with top-shelf sound effects and musical score--not to mention the actors' performances. So listen now to "Incident in Quito" with the ubiquitous voice of William Conrad performing the iconic introduction.

Play Time: 29:31

[Though deep into the Korean War in December of 1952 and a hot topic on the minds of Americans and the news media, our stalwart neighborhood gang of SF enthusiasts chose to distance themselves from real world troubles by reading about other worlds, both faraway and unexplored, and so bundled up against the cold and snow would trudge to the local newsstand for their monthly fix of adventure and derring-do. Astounding, as always, continued its long-running monthly publishing schedule with this extremely...minimalist cover. Galaxy, also now a solid monthly magazine since its debut in October of 1950, gave what would become one of Clifford D. Simak's most popular novels the coveted cover. F&SF began as a quarterly with its Fall 1949 issue and would remain a quarterly through the Fall 1950 issue, at which time it went bi-monthly from December 1950 through June of 1952. The August 1952 issue was the first of the magazine's monthly issues, of which the December issue pictured below was the fifth.]

{Left: Astounding, December 1952 - Center: Galaxy, December 1952 - Right: F&SF, December 1952}


To view the entire list of weekly Old Time Radio episodes at Tangent Online, click here.