Greed, by L. Ron Hubbard. Mult-cast, unabridged. Galaxy Audio, 2 hours
Greed is a collection of three short stories written by L. Ron Hubbard and published in science fiction pulp magazines during the 1940’s and 50’s. These stories are brought to audio with sound effects and a multicast performance reminiscent of old-time-radio, with the exception of the typical sound quality of that era – this production is about one thousand times better.
Can one man’s actions determine the fate of nations and even worlds? L. Ron Hubbard tackles this question in Greed, a short story that describes the exploits of George Marquis Lorrilard, an adventurer seeking fame and fortune in the wide open frontiers of space. As Earth lies embroiled in a war of stalemates pitting Asia against the United Continents, Lorrilard concentrates on stealing riches from various Asian ships and outposts throughout the Galaxy.
When his efforts are thwarted by a top-secret weapon called the cohesion projector, Lorrilard must use all the craft and cleverness he’s developed over the years to try and defeat the Asians’ unstoppable weapon. Hubbard’s premise that greed can be a major motivator for explorers (or exploiters, as they are referred to in the story) offers plenty of food for thought.
The telling of this story benefits from the use of sound effects, which help move it forward, but there’s not much dialog for the performers to work with, lessening the audio impact Galaxy Audio performances usually carry. This was the last Hubbard story published in Astounding Science Fiction in April, 1950.
The second offering, Final Enemy, takes a look at humanity’s reaction when the inhabitants of two different planets tell of invading aliens who almost wiped out their respective civilizations years ago. The people of Earth join together in a concerted effort to prepare for a similar invasion.
The single-minded purpose of the entire planet changes governments, armies, and society into one big cooperative effort unlike anything the world has ever experienced. Months of careful examination of the two planets in question eventually reveal the identity of the murderous enemy, but it’s not what anyone expects. The audio talents of the Galaxy team and the clever “gotcha” ending make this a story well worth hearing. Super Science Stories first published this story in September, 1950.
But the last story in this collection, The Automagic Horse, is by far my favorite of the bunch. Published in Astounding Science Fiction in October, 1949, it took the top slot in Astounding’s monthly reader polls, and I can certainly see why. When Gadget O’Dowd is asked to make a robotic horse for a critical scene in a highly acclaimed movie production, the gifted mechanic/engineer/inventor sets to work.
His creation passes all expectations, even fooling seasoned horsemen wagering bets at the local race track. But O’Dowd’s toughest task is fooling the new accountant who has been sent to his office to make sure all of the money he has requested for building the horse is spent appropriately. Evidently Hubbard had a good sense of humor and he unabashedly uses it here to create a story that’s a little bit silly and a whole lot of fun. Evidently the performers felt the same way, because you can almost see them smiling as they deliver this memorable audio performance.