Listen to the original NPR radio drama adaptations of the first STAR WARS trilogy

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/05/28/listen-to-the-original-npr-rad.html

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I tuned into those as they were coming out.

Directly after them was another new program, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. What was this amazing radio show??? After a few weeks I quit radio Star Wars, but went on to take in Hitchhiker’s in its (later) book form, records, TV show, text adventure… I never did see the stage play (mentioned in a footnote in the radio series scripts) nor the movie.

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Among the “development challenges” noted for Return of the Jedi was the illness and passing of writer Brian Daley. In addition to his work on the radio drama, Daley also wrote and published some of the first Star Wars expanded universe fiction, in the form of three Han Solo Adventures novels. he was allowed to write stories about Han, Chewy, and the Millenium Falcon; but not about any of the other characters in Star Wars. He had to invent new adversaries, new planets, and new humorous droids. He also wrote the novelization of TRON. These and others of Daley’s novels are entertaining and worth seeking out. Fans of his works can see his influence in many later works by other writers.

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He wrote a great SF series of his own. Really sad when he back-burnered it to work on licensed stuff.


The first Star Wars radio show was great. Empire is oddly paced – an awful lot of it takes place on Hoth – but still worth a listen.

This is the first time I’ve heard that ROTJ was completed!

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Sixth-grade me sat next to my radio tuned to WHIL in Mobile, Alabama, every Sunday evening for 13 weeks in 1981 with a portable cassette recorder, finger poised to press record as soon as I heard “STAR WARS - An adaption for radio in 13 parts. Based on characters and situations created by George Lucas.” Never missed an episode, and I have most of the first one committed to memory. (And I only just now noticed the significance of the call letters of the station with respect to Star Wars canon! Crazy.)

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???

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This is fantastic!

It made me think of doing something I never thought of doing before, searching the Internet Archive for “radio drama”… there are SO MANY.

https://archive.org/search.php?query=subject%3A"Radio+Drama"

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I gather that almost nothing from the golden age of radio was copyrighted. I’m sure that companies could re-claim some of the shows due to copyrighted elements within them, mostly music, but they generally don’t seem to have bothered.

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Yeah, he wrote some fantasy stuff as well. I’ve read most of the books published under his own name, even the GammaLaw stuff that was completed by his writing partner, and most of the stuff published with James Luceno under the Jack McKinney nom-de-plume, except I can’t bring myself to read all those Robotech novels they wrote. The 16 inches of Daley shelf space is certainly well-earned, right next to the 27 inches of Dick.

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Sooooo much great stuff in there. I dove into the old time radio theater rabbit hole about a year ago, and haven’t surfaced yet. A favorite is “Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar” (America’s fabulous freelance insurance investigator).

There’s also this, and this.

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I absolutely loved listening to these as a kid. Pure magic. I always considered the expanded story to be canon. The beauty of the original Star Wars trilogy was how much of the backstory was left hidden. The radio drama gave us a glimpse into that hidden story, while still leaving so much to the imagination. My imaginings of the Republic, the Clone Wars, and the fall of Anakin Skywalker were far richer than what actually was later given to us in the prequels. I really think the true magic of Star Wars was letting the kids fill in those gaps themselves.

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Fantastic interview! Hadn’t heard it before… thoroughly enjoying listening to it now! Thank you for linking it!

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This was on NPR concurrent with the original broadcast of the BBC production Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and I’d basically forgotten the Star Wars version existed as it was fantastic.

It’s very odd that somehow the original radio HHGTTG seemed better produced than the LP version that followed a few years later, and odder still that the TV series was even worse and that the movie was dreadful.

Thank god we have the books. Those will always be perfect.

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You folks are seriously going to let me get away with posting that?

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Wow. This brought back memories. I actually own a casette-tape version of this in the 1990s, and would listen to it in the car with my then young daughter. I SO wish I had hung onto it. I remember loving it, except for the actor who played Vader. No James Earl Jones he.

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One radio drama I would suggest is X Minus One.


It was a science fiction radio drama released in the fifties based on stories by some of the more famous authors of the time.
Asimov, Heinlein, Bradbury and others
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