Tangent Online

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

John Steele, Adventurer -- "The First Stone"

E-mail Print

John Steele, Adventurer (1949-1956) aired "The First Stone" on December 26, 1950. Though old episodes are being found from time to time, currently only about 50 are known to still be in circulation out of the original estimated 225+. This is only the third episode of this show we've offered here, the previous pair coming in May and August of 2018. Cribbing from those original notes for the benefit of newcomers, the show debuted just as television was beginning to compete with radio for the attention of the American public, and while it held its own for a respectable number of years, it never quite achieved the recognition that other long-running shows featuring an action and adventure format such as Suspense and Escape were able to garner before the advent ot television.

The show's premise had roving adventurer John Steele (played by Don Douglas, photo top right) introducing the many adventures of others he had met or run into during his world-spanning travels (some of which involved government work for the State Department as in this episode), which ranged from the Pacific to the Near/Middle East and beyond. Billed as full of suspense and hard-hitting action, the stories were of the same mold as those in magazines like All-Story and Argosy, two long-running, iconic pulp adventure magazines (All-Story published the first appearance of Edgar Rice Burroughs's Tarzan with Tarzan of the Apes in its October 1912 issue, for instance).

"The First Stone" takes place at a government department's New Year's Eve party where one of the five possible employees with access to sensitive blueprints has been stealing them. It is John Steele's desperate undercover assignment to ferret out the saboteur, to unmask the duplicitous thief behind the friendly mask. And perhaps the more interesting questions turn out to be not only why, but how. For the answers to these three questions: the who, the why, and the how, simply listen to this episode and maybe your guess as to whom to cast the first stone as being the guilty party will be correct, or not.

Play Time: 29:57

     {Christmas fell on a Monday in 1950, so the day after found the neighborhood gang at the corner newsstand excitedly exchanging stories of the neat toys and games they'd received, all the while ogling all the colorful pulp magazine covers spread before them in what by now were their familiar places on the shelves that took up almost the entire back wall of the newsstand. Christmas coin would soon be spent on gifts to themselves, gifts even Santa and his helpers found impossible to deliver. fantastic Adventures (1939-53) still had a few of its December copies left and with such an intriguing cover and a story (a novella) by Lester del Rey it was soon being held by sweaty hands. It was a monthly in 1950. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (1949-present) had completed its first year successfully and was beginning to attract many a long-time SF magazine reader with its fresh approach and more literary bent to many of its stories, both old and new. It was a quarterly in 1950. Planet Stories (1939-55) was a core favorite of many of the neighborhood gang's sacred collections, and cover stories like Fredric Brown's future classic "Star Mouse" was but one of the reasons. Planet Stories had been a quarterly publication until this November 1950 issue, the first of its new bi-monthly run , a schedule it would keep until its final two quarterly issues for the Spring and Summer of 1955.]

[Left: fantastic Adventures, Dec. 1950 - Center: F&SF, Dec. 1950 - Right: Planet Stories, Nov. 1950]


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