Journey in Space – World in Peril follows on directly from the events in the second adventure The Red Planet where they had been part of the first manned mission to Mars, which ended rather badly.
When the four astronauts arrive back on the Earth to tell the authorities about the future invasion of the planet they are very quickly hidden away from the general public by the authorities, and intensely questioned about what happened to them on their trip. They discover that there main ship, the Discovery, is being readied for takeoff.
They visit an astronomer, who has reported suspicious looking objects in the sky. Jet and Lemmy are persuaded to go up in an orbital rocket to investigate these objects. Whilst up there they are sent to sleep by a mysterious noise for twenty four hours. A mysterious sphere crash lands in the Lake District and Jet and Doc go to see what it is. They manage to enter the ship briefly, but when they leave it shoots back up into the sky.
They agree to go back to Mars and are driven to an airfield to be flown to Australia. However on the way Jet and his team are almost killed in a car crash started by the driver who happened to be a conditioned human. Despite all of this they are able to reach Australia, and then take off for the moon, where more spheres are spotted. Moonbase seems to be under Martian control and somehow the discovery manages to take off and head towards Mars.
When they arrive they find some of their remaining freighters still orbiting the planet. They use freighter number 1 to refuel the Discovery. Whilst there they hearing a voice which turns out to be that of Frank Rogers one of the crew of the original Mars mission, who had been conditioned by the Martians. They decided to land near Freighter 2 as they think that Frank might be there. Jet and Mitch find that the freighter is empty, whilst Doc and Lemmy spot the Martian spheres approaching them. Jet and Mitch return to the Discovery but do not make it.
As the spheres approach closer the entire crew pass out and when they wake up they find themselves in a darkened room, and discover Frank Rogers there still in his conditioned state. Doc works to wake Frank up from his conditioned state and he is able to tell them that they are on their way to Earth on an asteroid ship.
It is later discovered that the Lunar Controller Jack Evans is a Martian agent who is acting as the voice of the Martians who explains that the main aim is to invade the Earth by turning the entire population into conditioned humans by using a hypnotic television broadcast and that there have been conditioned humans on the Earth for centuries.
Jet decides that their best plan is to return to Mars, and use their freighters equipment to contact Earth and warn them of the impending invasion so they steal a sphere and return back to Mars, with the asteroids continuing to pursue then.
When they get back to Mars they realise that the Discovery has been stripped of its entire useful component and they transfer to the first freighter and attempt to contact the Earth to warn them. Jet decides to use all of the remaining fuel to set course for earth. The freighter ends up crashing onto the surfaces of an asteroid, which turns out the be the main flagship of the invasion fleet.
They then find out the main thrust of the story with the discovery that there is only Martian left alive, and that they are looking for a new home, and have been for centuries and centuries.
We find out that the Martians are giant creatures and that the stories of giants came from them. They plan to take over the Earth in order to prevent them from destroying themselves like they had done to their own home planet.
The asteroid soon arrives in the Earth’s orbit but the television transmissions have still not been stopped as per Jet’s message which looked like the invasion will still on but just before the set time of the transmission all transmissions are killed and the Martian decides to cease the invasion plans and will have to find another planet to settle on. He decides to allow any of the humans in the fleet to return to the Earth if they wish, and Jet and his team return home.
What I liked about this was the way in which Charles Chilton was able to keep people interested in the story for 10 hours of running time, which was no mean feat. If you take the whole Martian saga as one big story then it accounts for 20 hours of material, and really none if it seems to be a waste, even if there are bits of it which do seem like padding, it doesn’t really feel like it doesn’t really need to be there, such as the earlier episodes in this story before they decided to go back to Mars, it just adds to the story and is totally compelling.
I can genuinely see why people were drawn into these serials back in the 50s because they were well acted, well put together, well written and captured this listener’s imagination with aplomb sixty years after its first broadcast.