Hall of Fantasy -- "Out of the Sky"

Saturday, 02 September 2017 15:00 Dave Truesdale

Hall of Fantasy aired "Out of the Sky" on April 20, 1953. Hall of Fantasy (1946-47 from station KALL in Utah, and 1949-53 from station WGN in Chicago) aired an estimated 200+ scripts or (combined) broadcasts, yet only between 40-45 are thought to still exist, which is a shame, for creator, writer, director, and sometimes Hall of Fantasy actor Richard Thorne (1925-2007*, photo at right) was an extremely talented individual, and those episodes still surviving are held in high regard by OTR fans. The first two years airing in Utah (on those stations on the Intermountain Network) the show concentrated on straight mysteries or murder plots, but when the show ended up in Chicago and was subsequntly revived due to a fortunate turn of fate, it shifted focus to the supernatural or straight horror story format for which it became famous, all but adaptations of the classics being written by Thorne. The show went national on the syndicated Mutual Network in 1952.

[*I would like to express my thanks to Old Time Radio historian Karl Schadow for supplying the birth and death dates for Richard Thorne after my own search came up empty.]

The network would run rebroadcasts from 1953-54, though because of the shoddiness of research and/or outright collusion on the part of a few commercial sellers attempting to fob off a number of rebroadcasts as originals to aid their sales, it is quite possible that "Out of the Sky" is a rebroadcast from years earlier, with no foreseeable hope of pinning down its first airing due to the incomplete and/or unverifiable historical record.

"Out of the Sky" is one of the very few science fiction dramas to air on Hall of Fantasy, the supernatural story being its meat and potatoes after its move to Chicago station WGN. It concerns a theme familiar to SF fans and one that has been considered from different angles almost since the beginning of the genre, and that is: How will our first contact with an alien species go down? Will we or they shoot first and ask questions later? Will either species hold back on any aggressive confrontation and attempt a friendly first meeting? Or will trying to understand the mind and thought process of an alien species prove impossible due to--by its very nature--its vast difference of perspective from our own? Listen now to "Out of the Sky" as a scout ship from another planet lands on Earth to check out our defenses for a possible future invasion. Due to where it has landed, is the assumption the alien spacefarers make a valid one when reporting back to their superiors? Or has it made a crucial mistake we can take advantage of? Or...has it set a trap for us, foreseeing our response to its initial landing and drawing us out for an even greater slaughter? Great questions in this military, life-and-death chess game between species to which this story provides but one possible answer.

Play Time: 22:35

{April of 1953 saw the collective eyes of the neighborhood gang turned toward the skies, especially after listening to "Out of the Sky." The corner newsstand found them grabbing their favorite SF pulps with stories turned outward and upward as well. Astounding SF (1930 to present, now Analog) led the way as a long time monthly favorite. Galaxy (1950-1980) was beginning to catch their interest as well, with stories and articles focusing on space exploration. Galaxy was a monthly in 1953. Another new favorite was The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (1949 to present). Begun as a quarterly and quickly turning to a bi-monthly, August of 1952 saw its first monthly issue, while 1953 was its first full year as a successful monthly publication.}

        [Left: Astounding, April 1953 - Center: Galaxy, April 1953 - Right: F&SF, April 1953]    


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