I was three years old when Star Wars scorched movie screens with the force of a Death Star Superlaser. 2001: A Space Odyssey had already been out for almost a decade, Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock syndicated for twice the duration of their original mission. Sci-Fi, in other words, had already conquered both the big and small screens. Radio shows had been long superseded by new technology. Yet here I am in 2017, thoroughly enjoying the Literary Wonder & Adventure Show, a retro audio show streamed to me via a wireless router, via a cell phone tower shaped like a palm tree, and ultimately from the workstation of the talented Robert Zoltan.
His latest offering, “The Strand,” is short, compressed tale, which may have gone without a single commercial break back in the old days. Nonetheless, it contains all the ingredients of compelling drama — passionate characters, a setting bursting with possibilities, high stakes, and a very clever literary device which underpins it all.
The milieu of The Strand is only quickly sketched in, but it suggests a multiverse of planets, their populations going about their workaday existences ignorant of shadowy organizations doing battle to control the fate of them all. Agents of these organizations can travel between the dimensions. Yet agent Guy, the protagonist, is preoccupied with a more personal concern: in his travels, he met and fell in love with local girl Hope, and soon thereafter, they were forced apart into different planes. Now, Guy can only speak to Hope using a jury-rigged machine via a Strand — a wispy, elusive thread of electricity or astral energy or whatnot.