Mike Hodel's Hour 25

Science Fiction Radio for Southern California since 1972

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Christmas Readings - 2016

santa and aliens              space santa

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On Sunday - December 25th, 2016 - Hour 25 will be joining you to celebrate Christmas - a time of family and friends, a time of love and charity, a time when people act - for a few days - in the way we wish they'd act all year long.

And Christmas certainly falls within the purview of the literature of the fantastic - given that it involves a jolly man who travels around the world in a reindeer pulled sleigh giving toys and treats to children everywhere. And he does this all in one night. You can't get more fantastic than that.

And so Hour 25 joins you and your family in celebrating this magical holiday by continuing our long running tradition of reading you Christmas stories with an extra dash of the fantastic.

So pour yourself some eggnog, toss some decorations on your Christmas tree, light up the Yule log and sit back and relax 'cause you're on a journey to the worlds of your imagination with The Hour That Stretches.

holly barholly bar

Snap-Dragon by James Hain Friswell

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Our first story for tonight is Snap-Dragon by James Hain Friswell. In this story a man, who must be a cousin of Ebenezer Scrooge, decides that he wants no part of his family during the Christmas season. He avoids them and their holiday festivities and ultimately learns why this was a very bad idea.

This story revolves around a traditional English family game called Snap-Dragon, which involves filling a bowl with raisins and other treats, covering it with Brandy and then setting the liquor on fire. The family members next take turns trying to extract treats from this flaming mix while hopefully not getting their fingers too burned. {This is certainly not a game that is OSHA approved or suitable for over-protective helicopter parents.} Though this family fun-time goes back to the 16th century it is not commonly played today. {Imagine that.} But it does form an interested setting for the events in our first story.

P.S. We really don't recommend that you try this game at home. But that's just us.

the past
A traditional family playing Snap-Dragon because nothing says family fun like sticking your hand into a fire to get some raisins.

holly barholly bar

The Mystery of My Grandmother's Hair Sofa by John Kendrick Bangs

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Our second story for the night is another Christmas ghost story by John Kendrick Bangs - The Mystery of My Grandmother's Hair Sofa. In this story a writer who has been getting some grief from his editor has a most unusual encounter with a ghost on Christmas Eve. Or does he? Hard to tell, but there is one piece of evidence suggesting that he managed to avoid a very unpleasant encounter with a visitor from the spectral realms.

John Kendrick Bangs was a writer working in the late 19th century and early 20th. He was well known for his humorous take on the supernatural that portrayed ghostly creatures in mundane situations doing decidedly unsupernatural things. His protagonists are often writers having problems with deadlines and editors and whose problems only get worse once ghosts come into the picture. {I suspect that many of his stories are semi-autobiographical - at least the parts that don't involves ghosts and ghoulies.}

Back in the day stories of this type became known as "Bangsian fantasies" and inspired other authors to take a fresh look at fantasy. Bangs's signature approach to supernatural and humor humor laid the foundation for today's urban fantasies ranging from The Twilight Zone to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and many others.

So tonight we're going to bring you a story set in Victorian times combining editorial demands, writerly problems, ghosts(?) and Victorian parlor furniture. We present for your enjoyment The Mystery of My Grandmother's Hair Sofa by John Kendrick Bangs.

look at this
"Look at that!"


Christmas Greetings from the Moon

Listen to a Christmas greeting from Apollo 8

2001: A Christmas Odyssey

I'll never forget Christmas Eve 1968 - when I went outside on a cold winter's night and looked up at the Moon, shining over snow and Christmas lights, and realized that at that very moment three men from Earth were circling that world. This proved that the Moon was not just a place for science fiction dreams but a real place just waiting for discovery and exploration. For a young man who had been dreaming of spaceflight for his whole life the inescapable reality of that moment was a dream come true.

So let us remember that as the crew of Apollo 8 orbited above our lifeless Moon that night, they looked back to see the Earth - a blue and green oasis floating against star filled blackness - and sent the world a Christmas greeting... The first ever from another world.


A Science Fictional Christmas

Back in the 1950's Galaxy Magazine had something of a tradition of publishing Christmas themed covers for their holiday season issues. While looking at them I was struck by the similarities between what Santa does and what engineers do when designing and flying missions to other planets.

Galaxy Magazine - January 1957 - cover by Ed Emishwiller

First you must establish your mission requirements...

Galaxy Magazine - January 1956 - cover by Ed Emishwiller

Next you must plan your mission...

Galaxy Magazine - January 1958 - cover by Ed Emishwiller

Then you must travel through space whilst being careful to account for any mid-course encounters with other objects or spacecraft...

Galaxy Magazine - December 1959 - cover by Ed Emishwiller

Upon reaching your destination you must carefully deploy your payloads...

Galaxy Magazine - January 1951 - cover by Ed Emishwiller

And when your mission is completed you can sit down with friends and give a toast to a job well done.

Now go and enjoy the holidays with your family and friends. From all of us here at Hour 25, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years. And remember, when happiness comes to your party, be sure to give it a comfortable seat.

candle candle candle

The Hour 25 Broadcast

  • Click here to listen to the entire show. {59:35}


  • Click here for the show's intro music. {0:41}

  • Click here for the show's opening. {1:41}

  • Click here for Suzanne's reading of Snap-Dragon by James Hain Friswell. {24:18}

  • Click here for Warren's reading of The Mystery of My Grandmother's Hair Sofa by John Kendrick Bangs. {27:32}

  • Click here for a Christmas greeting from the Moon. {2:53}

  • Click here for the show's closing. {2:30}

  • For more Christmas readings you can listen to our shows from 2015, , 2014, 2013, 2012, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 and 2001.

  • And to add some music to your holiday season you might want to listen to our show featuring holiday carols with a Lovecraftian twist.

  • Click here for links to all of the previous Shows that you can listen to on the Hour 25 Website.

If you enjoyed this show and would like to know when other interviews are uploaded to the Hour 25 Website, then send an email to me at wwjames@earthlink.net and I will add your name to the free Hour 25 Newsletter mailing list. That way you'll get a brief notice in your email every time a new show gets uploaded to the web.


Useful Space Related Links

Space news - Asteroids

  • More information about the first asteroid to be discovered in 2014 can be found in this article from Space Daily, this article from Sky and Telescope, this report from the Minor Planet Center, or this report from NASA's Near Earth Object Program.

  • The homepage for JPL's Near Earth Object Program contains a great deal of news and other information about asteroids and includes an interactive orbit display program that can show the orbit of any known asteroid.

  • The Minor Planet Center is a clearinghouse for information about asteroid orbits and keeps track of newly discovered asteroids as well as objects that have been tracked for decades or even centuries. Their blog is an on-going source of news for all things relating to asteroids.

    Space News - Dawn - A Mission to the Asteroids

  • Updates and additional information about the mission of the Dawn spacecraft can be found at the project's Home Page at JPL or at this NASA Web Site.

  • Additional information about asteroids can be found at the NASA Near Earth Asteroid (NEO) Web Site.

  • Dawn is a part of the Discovery Program of deep space missions. Information about Dawn and other missions can be found at the Discovery Program Web Site.

    Space News - Mars

  • Much information about the Phoenix mission to Mars can be found at this JPL Web Site or at this Web Site from the University of Arizona or this NASA Web Site. Additional information about various past NASA missions can be found here.

  • For more information about the Mars Exploration Rovers be sure to check out the MER Web Site at JPL or this Mars Rover site at Cornell University. You can also get information about the MER mission by reading the News Updates posted by Dr. Steve Squyres, the project's Principal Investigator.

  • To learn more about the Mars Express mission you can go to this ESA Mars Express Web Site, this Mars Express Web Page from JPL, this NSSDC Mars Express Web Page, or this Web Page from Mars News.Com.

  • For more information about the Exploration of Mars be sure to go to the JPL Mars Exploration Site, the Center for Mars Exploration at NASA Ames, or the Mars Missions Web Site at the Planetary Society.

  • Information about the data returned by previous Mars missions can be found at this Mars Web Page at the NSSDC.

  • Information about the Phoenix Mission to Mars can be found at this Press Release from the University of Arizona. You can view a 3D picture of the Mars Phoenix spacecraft here.

  • For more Mars news be sure to check out the Mars News.Com Web Site.

  • Percival Lowell did much to shape our ideas about Mars in the early years of the 20th Century. You can learn more about his work by reading this on-line copy of his 1895 book Mars.

    Space News - The Cassini Mission to Saturn

  • Much information about the Cassini mission can be found at the Project's Official Web Site at JPL.

  • JPL is constantly releasing pictures from Cassini. You can find them by going to this JPL Web Page.

  • Additional information about the Cassini mission can be found at this ESA Web Site.

  • The University of Arizona Web Site for the imaging system used to take the Huygens pictures of Titan has much information about how they were obtained and processed as well as a collection of processed and unprocessed images.

  • The Huygens probe carried a microphone and recorded the various sounds that it heard while descending to the surface of Titan. You can listen to those sounds at this Web Page sponsored by the Planetary Society.

    For On-Going Updates on Space News

  • Links relating to the loss of Space Shuttle Columbia can be found here.

  • The Reusable Launch & Space Vehicle News Web Site Web Page that is part of the Hobby Space Web Site is a really good place to watch for news about, well... Reusable Launch Vehicles and related subjects. I check it out just about every day and often find news there that doesn't show up anywhere else. Give it a look. {And while you're there be sure to check out some of the site's other pages. Wow! Is there a lot of information there.}

  • The Space Today Web Site is a great place to find space news from all over the 'net.

  • The Spaceflight Now Web Site carries real time information about current space missions and presents a lot of space and astronomy news. This is the place I go to when I want up to the minute information about current space missions. Do I need to say more?

  • The NASA Watch Web Site is another great place for getting information about current space missions. Check there also for news about other 'goings on' within NASA. Highly recommended.

    ISS News

  • The Florida Today Web Site has a very interesting report about the causes of the ISS budget problems and their impact on the space program. It makes very interesting reading.

  • Click here to view the press kits for various ISS missions.

  • Check out the NASA International Space Station Web Page or the Boeing Web Page to learn more about this project.

  • A great source of news about Russian space activities, including their work on the ISS, can be found at the Russian Space Web.

  • Do you wonder where the Space Station is right now? You can use your browser to view real time maps showing the location of the ISS by going to this link at the NASA Space Link Web Site or here at the Johnson Spacecraft Center. Please note that your browser must support Java to make use of this satellite tracking software.

  • You can find out when the ISS - or many other spacecraft - can be seen from your location by going to this NASA Web Page. Please note; your browser must support Java for this application to work.

    Space Related Organizations

    If you are interested in learning more about current space activities there are many local and national organizations you might want to know about. Joining these organizations and taking part in their activities is a good way to stay abreast of things going on in space as well as a way to show your support for those activities. Listed below are some of those organizations.

  • The Organization for the Advancement of Space Industrialization and Settlement has long been place for persons living in the Los Angeles area to gather and discuss the promise of space. Be sure to check out their Web Site for information about their meetings and other activities.

  • The Orange County Space Society is another Los Angeles area organization that provides a focal point for persons who are interested in space developments to get together and share their ideas. They have created a number of displays explaining the history and importance of space exploration that have appeared at various public events. Be sure to check their Web Site for information about their meetings and other events.

  • The National Space Society has a long history of being an advocate for a vigorous space program and provides much information to its members through their magazine and Web Site.

  • The Space Frontier Foundation is a strong advocate for a non-governmental space program and serves as a focal point for much activity in that arena. Their annual conference in Los Angeles during the Fall is a great way to find out what is happening in the non-government space arena.

  • The Space Access Society is focused on reducing the cost of going into space by promoting non-governmental launch vehicle programs. Their annual conference in the spring is a major source of information on non-traditional launch vehicle activities.

  • The Planetary Society is focused on the exploration of the Solar System and has a wealth of information for its members and others.

  • Click here for information about the audio files used for Hour 25 and for information about configuring your browser and downloading audio players.

    Please note Web Pages from external sites will open in a separate browser window and that Hour 25 Productions are not responsible for the content of any external Web Sites.

    Upcoming Shows

    Join us in the coming weeks and months when our guests will include authors and scientists from the worlds of science, science fiction, mystery, horror and suspense.

    If you'd like me to let you know exactly when our next show is available, then send me an email { wwjames@earthlink.net } and I'll add you to the Hour 25 Newsletter Mailing List. That way you'll get an email notice telling you when the latest show was uploaded and who had joined us on that show. Being on the Hour 25 Newsletter mailing list will let you know when those specials are available as soon as they are uploaded. {Privacy notice: The Hour 25 Newsletter mailing list is kept in strict confidence and will not be used for any other purpose nor will it be given, sold or in any way provided to any other person or group for any other purpose.}

    Previous Shows

    Go to our Previous Shows Page to find out about previous guests on the show and to listen to some of our past shows.

    Audio Index

    Go to our Audio Index for a listing of the various shows, interviews and readings available on the Hour 25 Web Page. The exact locations of the shows will constantly be changing as this Web Site evolves, but the Audio Index page will always be your shortcut to finding what you want to hear.

    Note to Web Masters : If you wish to link your site to an Hour 25 interview you should do so using the Hour 25 home page as that page will be able to direct people to the specific information they are looking for.

    Science Fiction Matters

    Check out the pages below for more information about matters having to do with science fiction.

  • Click here to read what Suzanne had to say concerning children's and young adult books about fantasy and magic.

  • Click here for information about the various awards in the science fiction field.

  • Hour 25 - Background

    Burt Suzanne Warren

    Burt Handelsman
    Crack Engineer

    Suzanne Gibson
    Our Producer

    Warren W. James
    Your Host


      Mike Hodel   Terry Hodel  

    Mike Hodel
    The First Host of "Hour 25" {Picture Copyright © Burt Handelsman}


    Terry Hodel
    Our Late Executive Producer {Picture Copyright © Joel Farr}

    Click here to view a page with some of our thoughts about Terry.



  • Warren's Niftoidal Web Sites - Release 8

  • Long time listener Eric Foss has an Hour 25 archive page.

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