Welcome back to a new Retro Radio Memories installment, friends. For this go around we are going to be revisiting Michael Hanson’s exceptional 1970’s radio show Mindwebs. And while we have heard adaptations from the likes of Ray Bradbury and Roger Zelazny in the past few months, today we will be listening to the 1941 story by Robert A. Heinlein entitled They.
They is a short story that was originally published in the pages of Street and Smith’s Unknown. The same publishers responsible for the pulp hero and later radio icon The Shadow as well as Doc Savage. Heinlein collected this short story and others in 1959’s The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag – the title of a 1942 story that helped to inspire Alex Proyas’ 1998 film Dark City!
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Dark City is a powerful film, one that doesn’t quite get the recognition it truly deserves – especially Proya’s Director’s Cut of the film. It certainly has some elements that are echoed by 1941’s They. In a nutshell the protagonist of our story is an asylum, he has been placed there because he truly believes he has seen behind the curtain of his existence. He has come to accept that the majority of those around him are fakes, placeholders of a malfunctioning system. That those around him, including his Wife, are merely in place to convince him that everything is fine and that he too is just another human being. He knows better though, he has been fortunate…well…I suppose that is actually unfortunate enough in this case – to see that what he has been raised to believe is nothing but a lie. Obviously what the main gist of the story boils down to is the protagonist right or is this merely a sign of his mental illness?