John wrote this one-act play in 1960. It was one of his few excursions into science fiction, and it’s thoroughly dystopian. After a nuclear holocaust, a few survivors huddle in a dark cave. They complain about the cold and dark, reminisce about life under sunlight, and prepare to hunt rats as the rats hunt them. Another survivor joins the group, and they greedily devour the small bag of termites she’s managed to find. A firefly makes its way into the cave, and they marvel at its dazzling light, “a sun of our own”—except for the youngest of the group, who is blind. Here’s the first couple of pages.
June 30, 2014
June 17, 2014
In the 1980s, John’s magazine work was drying up, and he tried working on a number of novels and plays. Unstrung, from 1982, is a two-act romantic comedy set in World War III. A couple, Pete and Barbara, wake up hungover after a one-night stand. They discover that World War III has broken out, there’s no power, and the streets are full of rioters and looters. In the course of the play, they get to know one another, quarrel, make up, fight off intruders, and finally decide to stay together. One amusing note: near the end, Pete reveals something he thinks Barbara should know: he’s a great fan of Harvey Kurtzman.
Here’s the beginning.
June 8, 2014
Mary Hyre’s next letter to John was postmarked May 20, but, as she notes in a postscript, it had been returned; so, I’m assuming it was written the preceding Sunday, the 14th. She fills him in on UFO sightings, Mothman reports, strange noises, doorbell ringers, and a dream of her own.