There was a period during my college years when I was seriously into radio dramas. Even though it was a format whose time had passed decades before I was born, I still was fascinated by how successful radio dramas could tell a story using only sound. I burned through tons of classic ones from the format’s heydey, as well as more modern examples such as Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the BBC’s massive Lord of the Rings retelling, and the NPR Star Wars adaptations. Somewhere in the mix I got hooked on J. Michael Straczynski’s excellent City of Dreams audio series, and now you can discover them for yourselves on YouTube.
The City of Dreams was created in 2000 for Sci-Fi Channel’s Seeing Ear Theatre, which produced original radio dramas for SciFi.com. The City of Dreams was an anthology series that explored stories rooted in science fiction, fantasy, and horror. In some ways, it was a return for JMS to the earlier days of his career, when he’d worked on the 1980s revival of The Twilight Zone. Thirteen episodes of the show were planned, but sadly only eight were produced. The voice cast includes such talented people as Steve Buscemi, Andre Braugher, Tim Curry, and John Turturro.
The Candle and the Star has posted all of Straczynski’s City of Dreams installments on YouTube in their entirety. If you’re a JMS fan, or just a fan of the genre, The City of Dreams is definitely worth a listen. (And for the record, my favorite is The Alpha and Omega of David Wells.)
Episode 1: The Damned Are Playing at Godzilla’s Tonight.
A racist club owner is haunted by an all-black band he would rather see dead than hear live.
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For our first story, I wanted something with teeth, something that took one of the more common supernatural tropes and used it in a way that dealt with contemporary themes. It has kind of a Lovecraftian feel, starting at the end, then finding out how we got here, and why. Where else can you get all that *and* a commentary on the state of the music industry? -JMS