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The Ninth Volume


A geologist accidentally makes the fabulous discovery of a modern residence buried underneath the rocks for twelve billion years. This structure also houses a nine volume history of the world that also encapsulates the present (1998) and the future of our world. But the ninth volume is lost and he must find it before the deadline.



Air Dates

  • First Run - December 30, 1977
  • Repeat - June 3, 1978





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24 Responses to Episode 0761

This was is favorite episode - whoch i happened to tape the first time it was broadcast. It's one i could listen to again and again and not get tired of it. It's an intriguing triangle of several forces: science, commercial interests, and fear of the unknown. Robert Dryden is great in the scenes where he makes clear where he stands. Fascinating questions are raised, and the listener is left to ponder the answers each time. The closing line is brilliant, and immensely visual. This one still fascinates me.


One of my favorites. Very thought provoking.


Ohhhhhhh, what a story this could have been if we would have had: 1) one more hour, and; 2) perhaps a few more plot twists. An oil drilling crew somewhere around western Colorado has been toiling on a certain spot for several days. Their parent company is getting restless because there's been lots of work and no oil found. A young, hotshot geologist is convinced that there's an incredible amount of petroleum to be discovered...the drilling rig boss tells the driller to try and go down 50 more feet, difficult because the drill bit is 4 miles underneath the surface. All of a sudden the drill operator says they appear to have hit an air pocket...oil must be near! Then he stops and gets extremely nervous. The manager and geologist arrive and he tells them red powder started coming out of the hole...power which they learn mysteriously disappears shortly after contact with air. The geologist links up with one of his favorite college professors and arranges for the dust to be tested. It appears to be a substance unknown to any recorded primitive culture, subsequent tests show it's 12 billion years old. The professor says an abandoned silver mine he's aware of nearby may have a deep shaft that can lead to a passageway to the vicinity of the finding. The geologist and the drill operator, armed with explosives, venture down to it, then detonate a hole through the rock into the precise area. They find: a ranch house, looking almost exactly like a home in their era (1998) would appear. Everything's intact, even the windows. The faucets, when turned on, dispense pure crude oil. They also find adjacent to the basement (the floor of which is covered with crude) a library, filled with books by Shakespeare and all the great novelists. Astounded (and filled with glee because the oil is where he predicted it) the geologist finds a set of books that are apparently a set of nine, but only eight volumes are there. Their title: "A history of the world, by D.V. (the "V" stands for "Vladimir" Davis). The ninth volume, which would cover all history past Y2K, is missing. The geologist is convinced this was a civilization just like ours that lived billions of years ago, and if he can find that ninth volume we'll learn what's going to happen to us. This is an interesting episode to listen to, but I do think there is so much that could also have happened within...but that's JMO, as we say in webspeak...

Pulvinar C.

A very interesting episode that is "Outer Limits" or "Twilight Zone" in atmosphere. Well worth a listen and avoid reading too many comments so it remains a surprise!


Absolutely love this episode! First heard it when I was 11 years old in the summer of '78 and it stayed with me for 30+ years 'til I managed to get a copy of my own a few years back. The mood and atmosphere were first-rate. You could really visualize the men moving through the darkened, eerie rooms of the ancient "modern" house. The whole second act was as spooky as I remembered as a kid. The pacing is also excellent. The listener is just as frantic as Michael Wager (an excellent performance) to get back to the house and find the ninth volume before it's too late and yet we all know --it will be. What was the major catastrophe we needed to avoid? Question. How do other listeners interpret the ending? When the house collapses, as it's exposed to the fresh air, do John Perk and the Professor get out alive? Or are they killed in the house's collapse? When, I was little, one of the reasons this episode so haunted me was I assumed our protagonist was killed. What do all of you think? Whenever I listen to this one now (which is quite often) I go back and forth about the last scene. After "Death Is a Woman" and "The Judge's House" I would say this is my favorite RMT. The unanswered questions at the end just make it even more entertaining. The stories that leave you guessing (and thinking) long after the final curtain has come down are the ones that really fire the imagination. On a side note: during a previous discussion of this show, someone mentioned the "Quiet, Please" episode "The Thing on the Fourbleboard"-- I'm so grateful they did! I stayed up to listen and record a copy of it when it was on a old time radio station @ 6 months ago-- because of their recommendation. If any of you ever get a chance to hear this tale--DO!!!!!!!!!! It is, without a doubt, one of the creepiest, shivers down the spine, radio dramas you'll ever experience.

M. Cabochan

Great selection. "The Ninth Volume" remains one of my favorite RMT's; it combines a fun, interesting story with good performances. I love the performance by the actor who portrayed Sharkey (or whatever his name was) who lied when asked to confirm the scientist's claims about the modern dwelling below the earth. I laughed when Sharkey said he didn't recognize half of the names the geologist read out as authors of various books in the library. As for the ending, I took it to mean that the two scientists died after the house disintegrated; I don't see how they could have escaped, but I hope I am wrong! This episode occurred in the far flung future of....1998. I guess that means the end is near.


This particular episode is a sentimental favorite of mine because it was the very first CBS RMT show that I had the pleasure of listening to. At the ripe ol' age of ten, I stumbled upon this episode while playing around with a brand new AM transistor radio that was given to me as a Christmas present from my father. I had no idea what the creaking door noise was suppose to be but thought it might be worth checking out. As soon as E.G. Marshall began with the opening monologue, I closed my eyes and began listening very intently as the plot unfolded. It wasn't long into the story before I found myself completely immersed in it, setting the wheels in motion that would later create the lifelong fan that I am today. In the story of the Ninth Volume, oil drillers stumble upon a subterranean cavern several billion years old that contains modern trappings and a library of great literary works, including eight volumes of a history of the world up to the present time. The ninth volume is missing, but should (presumably) record the future as evident by the eighth volume, that covers historical events through the year 2000 (it's 1998 in the story's setting). The problem is that time is not on their side in their quest to find the ninth volume. The oil rig has a deadline to meet and it's drill is headed directly towards the cavern which will destroy everything in it's path. As the desperate men make their way back to the cavern, you find yourself right there along with them, hoping that they're successful because the final volume parallels our future and will enlighten us as to what lead to mankind's demise. And so the story goes... The Ninth Volume is simply a wonderful sci-fi story. Well, at least for me anyways as I'm certain that most will agree here that it makes an excellent choice if you're a first time listener.

L. Strothers

I've always wondered if this episode was inspired in part by a "Quiet, Please" radio show called "The thing on the fourbleboard", which also took place on an oil drilling rig. (Much bloodier tale, though, and different plotline.) was a tale that should have been able to have been told in two hours rather than one, but I loved it nonetheless.


This is a major favorite of mine. While re-listening to it today, I was struck by a curious thought. It was produced in 1977. It's set in the year 1998, which was 21 years in the future for the show's original audience. They had a 'cushion' of two decades between the events of the episode and their own present-day. For today's audience, 1998 is just a few years ago. Having this episode set in our recent past made it seemed more immediate to me, more suspenseful. The 1990's setting, which would have seemed 'unreal' to the 1977 audience, is more 'real' to today's fans than a show set in the 1970's. It is for me, anyway, and I do remember 1977. We're living in the future.

Martin N.

This is one of my favorite RMT shows. One of my first recollections, too. I think the most poignant dialogue comes in the exchange between Milo ( the drilling foreman) and the Professor: The Professor: "You can't keep drilling! Don't you understand that by drilling, you might destroy an invaluable clue to our past?" Milo: "I don't care about the past, Professor, I only care about the future!" And Milo's future concern was only in regard to retreiving the oil. How funny was that line to have in there, only to be unveiled later in the episode exactly as such. But, what interested me most, was what would John have done with the information contained in Volume 9 if he were able to present it to the public? Who would have believed him, first, but secondly, the whole conundrum of "if you know something's going to happen so you try to change it, by changing it you could be triggering the event to happen anyway!" It's a paradox. Very sci-fi. Regarding the episode, I kept thinking how it would make a great movie. When they make films such as Sphere, which, in my opinion, was both a mediocre book and an even more mediocre movie, I wonder why these episodes never made it that far. Legality? Copyright? Lack of interest? who knows.  An excellent selection and a great on to listen to again.

J. Webb

Just listened to it again. My thoughts: - I remember my business communication teacher in college talking about how in the 60s many corporations began moving away from a linear way of thinking toward a more circular "two-way" (or however many levels of management there were) way of thinking. Those of you who went through business school probably remember "Theory X" (linear), "Theory Y", "Theory Z" and so forth. This change in the 60s came about when eastern religions such as Buddhism began to be seen as an influence. Such a religion saw history as cyclical as opposed to linear, exemplified by Christianity. (For those interested, there appears to be a reversal of the trend in modern-day China among a growing number.) Looks like the author of this took a story that indeed saw history as cyclical. Which meant in a few billion years there was likely going to be ANOTHER drilling rig, which was going to strike the roof of ANOTHER subterranean ranch house, etc. - I mentioned the "Quiet Please 'Thing on the fourbleboard' " episode. Relistening to this makes me believe even further that this show was an influence on "Ninth volume". Quick summary of "fourbleboard"...a few guys on a remote drilling rig dredge up (without knowing it) a hideous, invisible, half-woman (?) creature from the earth's depths which is pulled up by the drill bit and deposited on the "fourbleboard" (platform on the fourth level) of their rig. One of the first clues that they've brought something horrendous up is that the geologist (I believe) finds a finger, wearing an ornate filigreed ring, in the mud. When he wipes the mud off the finger is invisible. Apart from the modern touch of the ranch house (like the modern (?) ring in the other episode) in "The ninth volume" there was that red mud/clay which disappears on contact with air. Similarity to "fourbleboard"? Could be, but not worth much pondering on. - I loved the combination of Court Benson, Robert Dryden and Michael Wager. I also loved it when Benson's drill boss character "Milo" said, mockingly, "But, he went to college." - On first listen, was there anyone else besides me who thought something or someone very creepy was going to pop out of that underground ranch house's basement and devour one of the characters? Don't know, but I would have been a lot more uneasy about poking around down there than Wager's character was. - I also wondered how feasible it was that a drilling bit that far underground was able to be found by one blast through a wall of a deep cave, but then, that's central to what made this story. Impossible by physics or not (and maybe it wasn't) it was still forgivable and enjoyable. Wonderful RMT...again, too bad it couldn't have lasted longer, though this is the first listen where I've actually felt the limited amount of time it took to tell this tale was justified.


I liked the surrealistic underground house with the naugahyde recliner and collection of great literature. The concept was captivating and the story flow held my interest throughout. The urgency of the deadline, the danger of the treks to the center of the earth, the strong, identifiable characters, the betrayal, the near miss, the disappointment... a very richly developed tale. I give this episode a rating of five, one of the precious few I have rated so highly.

Donald Clarence

It's an excellent show. Thanks again for the suggestion. BTW, two other things: 1. Another great line from Court Benson as "Milo": "So what if that stuff down there acts weird? If I was down there, I would act weird." 2. In real life, oil well drilling is dangerous work, and men can make a lot of physical sacrifices (read: lose fingers) doing it. In old time parlance, the oil drillers were called "roughnecks". My wife's great grandfather was one, though he worked high up building the rig towers. He was one of those guys who isn't afraid of any height, kind of like those mohawk construction workers in New York City who can run along girders eighty stories above the city streets. A riddle I was told by a man who used to work with drilling rigs (He was in some sort of engineering position): Q: "What's this?" (Holds up his index and pinky fingers with all other fingers pointed into the palm of his hand, kind of like the University of Texas "hook 'em, horns" sign.) A: "A roughneck ordering 5 beers."


I really loved this show.I like the sci-fi feel and the way each probable reaction was represented. Beside being drawn into the story, I found myself justifying just about each character's position. I think each differing stance was valid to a greater or lesser degree. I could see wanting to know the future and not wanting to know it. I could see the science's quest for answers and even the business side. But, being caught up in the story line was the best part! I could really imagine what it was like in the caves. There was a make-up tycoon that built an underground house in Las Vegas and that was how I imagined the house in the story to be. Great story.


I also gave this one a five. I thought the script idea was incredibly original and the story was well paced . It was a little light on character development, but that's a minor detail in a plot-driven story. I never saw the end coming. Better yet, I really couldn't predict how it was going to end. I'm not a big Court Benson fan. I don't mind it when he is doing his straight voice (which he does in this episode), but the guy can't do voices worth a damn. He does come through in this episode. Robert Dryden usually can lift an episode to another level with his acting and he does not disappoint in this episode.


I hadn't heard this in 30 years (a high school / elementary school buddy had it) but I just found and downloaded "The thing on the fourbleboard". Again, I'm guessing this helped inspire "The Ninth Volume", but boy, is this a different kind of tale...

Justin M.

A ludicrous story, but entertaining.


Favorite episode, the Ninth Volume. I recorded it on Memorex tapes and used the story for "inspiration" on a middle school writing project.


"The Ninth Volume"...One of the Best Ever!


he Ninth Volume is my favorite one


This is my most favorite or memorable episode.


Very captivating sci-fi story which doesn't let up on the action. However some flaws in the science department. If the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, how can a lost civilization have lived on it 12 billion years ago? The oil drilling crew with difficult drilled down 4 miles of rock only to discover that a silver mine was already there with an entrance at the bottom of the valley, and all they had to do to get to the oil was blast a little wall with some dynamite and there is the oil! Fire their surveyor! This was not some futuristic Buck Rogers house from the lost civilization, but an ordinary house from 1998. How would a wood built house from 12 million years ago remain intact buried under 4 miles of solid mountain rock? Luckily it can withstand all that pressure from above and the pressure from the oil below, but yet it disintegrates in seconds when exposed to fresh air? The 12 billion year old civilization had Shakespeare write all his plays and other authors like Hemingway. This leads to the protagonist thinking that the civilizations are duplicate and what destroyed the early civilization will be fated to destroy us. Then if there is no free will, and the present time is just a recording then what difference does it make if he finds the ninth volume? He can't stop it from happening. And lastly, how did this ancient author DV Davis write about what destroyed his civilization in the last volume of his books, and still have time to publish his book and print it? Maybe the book publisher thought they could sell it to the surviving cockroaches?


Natural gas has no odor. Gas companies add a harmless chemical called mercaptan to give it its distinctive “rotten egg” smell. another story where the author as no idea what he is talking about when it comes to science fact.


Ah, but Wade, perhaps the gas company from 12-BILLION years ago added the mercaptan! Ever think about that? You've got to use your imagination, my boy!


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