Listen to 188 Dramatized Science Fiction Stories by Ursula K. Le Guin, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, J.G. Ballard & More


We here at Open Cul­ture believe that, as far as sci­ence-fic­tion deliv­ery sys­tems go, you can’t do much bet­ter than radio dra­ma. We’ve pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured quite a range of it, from the clas­sic 1950s series Dimen­sion X and its suc­ces­sor X Minus One to adap­ta­tions of such clas­sic works as Isaac Asi­mov’s Foun­da­tion tril­o­gy, Aldous Hux­ley’s Brave New World, and, most recent­ly, Ursu­la K. LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Dark­ness. Now we’ve opened up anoth­er trea­sure trove of sci-fi radio in the form of the archives of Mind Webs, orig­i­nal­ly broad­cast on Madi­son, Wis­con­sin’s WHA-AM, start­ing in the 1970s

One old-time radio site describes Mind Webs as “not real­ly audio dra­ma in the strict sense of the def­i­n­i­tion,” but “read­ings of sci­ence fic­tion sto­ries by some of the gen­re’s best writ­ers [ … ] enhanced by music, peri­od­ic sound cues, and the occa­sion­al char­ac­ter voice.” As the col­lec­tor who made his record­ings of the series avail­able to the Inter­net Archive puts it, Mind Webs “stands as a tes­ta­ment to not only some of our great­est spec­u­la­tive fic­tion authors, but just how well sim­ple dia­log and music minus major sound effects can con­vey sto­ries so well.”

Which authors count­ed as great enough for inclu­sion into the Mind Webs canon? Some of the names, like Ursu­la K. LeGuin, Isaac Asi­mov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Ray Brad­bury, you’d expect to find in this archive, but oth­ers go far­ther afield: the series also fea­tures sto­ries by the likes of Philip K. Dick, J.G. Bal­lard, H.P. Love­craft — writ­ers who, each in their own way, bent the bound­aries of all known fic­tion, sci­ence- or oth­er­wise — and even such sup­pos­ed­ly tra­di­tion­al sto­ry­tellers as John Cheev­er and Roald Dahl who, in these selec­tions, put their own spin on real­i­ty.

Lis­ten to enough episodes of Mind Webs, and you may get hooked on the voice and read­ing style of its host Michael Han­son, a fix­ture on Wis­con­sin pub­lic radio for some­thing like forty years. Back in 2001, just after wrap­ping up his career in that sec­tor, Han­son wrote in to the New York Times lament­ing the state of pub­lic radio, espe­cial­ly its pro­gram direc­tors turned into “syco­phan­tic bean coun­ters” and a “pro­nounced dumb­ing down of pro­gram con­tent.” Mind Webs, which kept on going from the 70s through the 90s, came from a time before all that, and now its smart sto­ry­telling has come avail­able for all of us to enjoy.

The playlist above will let you stream all of the sto­ries — rough­ly 88 hours worth — from start to fin­ish. Or you can access the audio at here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hear Inven­tive Sto­ries from Ursu­la Le Guin & J.G. Bal­lard Turned Into CBC Radio Dra­mas

Hear Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and 84 Clas­sic Radio Dra­mas from CBS Radio Work­shop (1956–57)

Hear Ursu­la K. Le Guin’s Pio­neer­ing Sci-Fi Nov­el, The Left Hand of Dark­ness, as a BBC Radio Play

Free: Isaac Asimov’s Epic Foun­da­tion Tril­o­gy Dra­ma­tized in Clas­sic Audio

Dimen­sion X: The 1950s Sci­Fi Radio Show That Dra­ma­tized Sto­ries by Asi­mov, Brad­bury, Von­negut & More

X Minus One: More Clas­sic 1950s Sci-Fi Radio from Asi­mov, Hein­lein, Brad­bury & Dick

Col­in Mar­shall writes on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

by | Permalink | Comments (6) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (6)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Felipe says:

    This is awe­some, thank you so much!

  • Ellie says:

    Always want­ed to lis­ten to these, thank you !

  • Rick says:

    Mindwebs is one of my favourite series and I strong­ly rec­om­mend it! I’m not sure how Michael Han­son did it, but his voice, inflec­tion, and pac­ing match the mood of each episode. Well done!

    The link above to the Inter­net Archive includes some new encodes and rep­re­sents hun­dreds (thou­sands?) of hours of work by a guy known as ‘Dark­man’. The sound qual­i­ty on some of the encodes is stun­ning­ly clear, but of course, some of the episodes are old­er copies and have very poor qual­i­ty.

    There is some­thing here for every­body.

    I’d like to note, how­ev­er, that the quotes above are cit­ed as hav­ing come from Radio Hor­ror Hosts… but if you look close­ly at that page, you will see that they quot­ed the mate­r­i­al from my web­site:

    There you can find plot sum­maries and reviews of Mindwebs episodes. Come join us.

  • doug says:

    A col­lec­tion of new­ly released remixed remas­tered MindWebs is avail­able here..
    They also have the old­er ver­sions that are in bet­ter qual­i­ty.

  • Michael Hanson says:

    Thanks very much for your kind words and sup­port for MINDWEBS.
    Just. a clar­i­fi­ca­tion: my last name is Han­son, not Hansen. 😉

  • Sanjay says:

    Hi there thanks

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.