Science fiction, particularly British science fiction, has always had something of an affinity with the radio play format. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was originally produced as a radio play, and many other classic series including Doctor Who and Sapphire & Steel have released episodes either on British radio or direct to CD. Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy was adapted for BBC radio in 1973, BBC Radio One produced an one-hour tie in to Independence Day entitled (creatively) Independence Day UK back in 1996, and of course we all know the story of Orson Welles’ 1938 broadcast of The War of the Worlds.
The radio play format has now started to move online and make something of a resurgence, and Welcome to Night Vale is perhaps the most well known of this new breed. The Internet has made it easier to produce your own radio play. It is a cheap format to get started in, as you can begin with just a $3 microphone. Of course if you want to produce something a little more professional and polished you’re going to need quite a bit more money, which is why the team behind A Brief History of Time Travel turned to Kickstarter.
ABHoTT is a science fiction sitcom created by James Hunt and Seb Patrick. It follows the adventures of mad inventor Miles Wanderlust, accountant Eric Street, and special agent Nina Seventeen from the 51st century who is attempting to bring the boys to temporal justice before they can do anything too damaging to the timeline. Each episode of the six-part series sees the group thrown into a different time period where they get into trouble with Shakespeare’s daughters, Julius Caesar, and a suddenly erupting volcano, amongst other things. All the while Nina’s bumbling colleague Oscar Quantum is attempting to rescue her but probably making things much worse in the process.
The humor is classic British dry wit reminiscent of The Hitchhiker’s Guide, Red Dwarf, and Doctor Who. It’s also nice to see snippets of history being woven into the plot, such as Francis Bacon’s cause of death, which might have more to do with his surname than you previously imagined thanks to Oscar. Speaking of Red Dwarf, alongside the cast of professional voice actors and rising British comedy talent, Robert Llewellyn guest stars at The Narrator. Each episode is 40 minutes long and can be downloaded individually for £1.49 each or as a complete series for £6.99. An Official Companion is also available for £5.99 featuring six “Making Of” MP3s and a PDF showing more behind the scenes information and episode scripts. The team’s Kickstarter funding allowed them to commission a theme tune and cover art by Disney-trained illustrator Brittney L. Williams.
A Brief History of Time Travel has the potential to become a real cult hit. It is witty, sarcastic, and well-written, as well as enjoying high production values. If you like your science fiction a little bit silly and characters with an inherent sense of British steadfastness as the world goes mad around them, then make sure you head on over and try out the series.