Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Worlds Unknown #4: Fredric Brown's "Arena"

Download Worlds Unknown #4

Many of you good folks out there are familiar with Star Trek's take on Fredric Brown's Arena with the Gorn playing the role of the mysterious Outsiders, but I first became aware of this classic Science Fiction short story through Marvel Comics' Worlds Unknown #4. While I heartily recommend the original short story, this adaptation, which was written by Gerry Conway and drawn by John Buscema and Dick Giordano, is actually quite good. I recall enjoying this one tremendously as a kid and again as an adult, which means this one receives an enthusiastic recommendation.


Cover: Dick Giordano
Script: Frederic Brown (Original Story), Gerry Conway (Adaptation)
Pencils: John Buscema
Inks: Dick Giordano

  • from Unknown Worlds Of Science Fiction Giant Size Special #1 (Marvel, 1973 series)

Surprise download: Fredric Brown's Arena published in Starlog #4:

Download Starlog #4

The teleplay for the original Star Trek series was credited to an original story by Fredric Brown, also titled "Arena," that was first published in 1944 on the pages of Astounding Science Fiction magazine, though Robert Justman and Herb Solow wrote in Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, that Gene L. Coon wrote his script as an original (over the course of a weekend), unaware of Brown's story, and only sought permission to "adapt" the story after the slight similarities were pointed out to him. Brown was more than happy to hear that Star Trek decided to use one of his stories, and probably never found out the real plot behind it.

In his final speech, the Metron informs Kirk that, because he demonstrated mercy, he will not be destroyed. Initially, they said they planned to destroy the loser, "in the interests of peace." In Coon's script, in dialog not aired, the Metron admits that they had, all along, planned to actually destroy the ship of the winner of the personal combat, because that race would represent the greater danger to them. James Blish preserves this disclosure in his novelization in Star Trek 2.

SFFaudio Online Audio

Podcast - The Time Traveler ShowArena by Frederic BrownThe Time Traveler Show podcast #3 is available now! The main content is an unabridged reading of Frederic Brown’s often adapted (though not always attributed) classic SF tale Arena. Originally published in the June 1944 issue of Astounding Science Fiction magazine this tale was first adapted as an episode of the original Outer Limits in 1964, then in 1967 for the original Star Trek television series (the infamous “Gorn” episode), and even as a comic in Marvel Comics magazine Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction in 1976. You can read the complete show notes for podcast #3 HERE or download the show HERE.

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