Re-Imagined Radio presents The Willamette Radio Workshop, Portland, Oregon, performing two short radio dramas, “Hiro & Liling,” by Kristina Jones, an original performance, and “The Martian Death March,” by Ernest Kinoy, an episode from Dimension X and X Minus One. Both are directed by Sam A. Mowry.

Inspired by Japanese folklore, possibly the story of Meoto Iaw (see, the wedded rocks, “Hiro & Liling,” an original love story by Kristina Jones, Portland, Oregon, unfolds as an old man teaches his grandchild the legend of an ancient rock formation. In simple, lyrical language the grandfather traces the relationship between a war-hardened Japanese General and a young Chinese girl orphaned by his troops. At once poignant and hopeful, potent and reflective, the piece represents some of the best work to come out of Willamette Radio Workshop’s 2004 Writers-on-the-Air Workshop, directed by Cynthia McGean.

“The Martian Death March” is an original radio drama from a true master of the genre, Ernest Kinoy. First broadcast as episode #34 of Dimension X (14 January 1951), a Martian colonist from Earth recounts how, as a young boy in 1997, he accompanied the spider-like Martians on a trek from an Earth-imposed reservation to their former home in the mountains of Mars. Science fiction writers are often able to move Earth-bound topics into space or to other planets where they can be examined and discussed with greater ease and insight because perhaps they seem fictional, more distant, less imposing. Kinoy achieved great success with this approach, offering with “The Martian Death March” a prism through which to view more clearly human inhumanity to other humans here on Earth. “The Martian Death March” becomes an allegory of systemic racism toward indigenous peoples seen as obstacles to national expansion. Perhaps by listening carefully, and critically to Kinoy’s story, we can finally learn the lesson we seem to be forgetting, or ignoring.

Possibly, Kinoy was inspired to write “The Martian Death March” after reading about American Indians who escaped their reservation and marched toward a hoped for freedom in the Nineteenth Century. Possibly Kinoy read about a group of eight hundred Nez Perce Indians, who led by Chief Joseph, left their reservation in Idaho hoping to find freedom in Canada. Chief Joseph led his people more than fifteen hundred miles across the rough mountainous terrain evading U.S. troops, only to be captured within fifty miles of the Canadian border in 1877.