X Minus One was a half-hour science fiction radio series broadcast from April 24, 1955 to January 9, 1958, in various timeslots on NBC. Initially a revival of NBC's Dimension X (1950-51), X Minus One is widely considered among the finest science fiction dramas ever produced for radio. The first 15 episodes were new versions of Dimension X episodes, but the remainder were adaptations by NBC staff writers, including Ernest Kinoy and George Lefferts, of newly published science fiction stories by leading writers in the field, including Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, Robert A. Heinlein, Frederik Pohl, and Theodore Sturgeon, along with some original scripts by Kinoy and Lefferts.
Episodes of the show include adaptations of Robert Sheckley's "Skulking Permit", Bradbury's "Mars Is Heaven", Heinlein's "Universe" and "The Green Hills of Earth", Pohl's "The Tunnel Under the World", J. T. McIntosh's "Hallucination Orbit", Fritz Leiber's "A Pail of Air", and George Lefferts' "The Parade".
The program opened with announcer Fred Collins delivering the countdown, leading into this introduction (although later shows were partnered with Galaxy Science Fiction rather than Astounding Science Fiction):
"Countdown for blastoff.... X minus five, four, three, two, X minus one.... Fire!" [Rocket launch SFX] "From the far horizons of the unknown come transcribed tales of new dimensions in time and space. These are stories of the future; adventures in which you'll live in a million could-be years on a thousand may-be worlds. The National Broadcasting Company, in cooperation with Street and Smith, publishers of Astounding Science Fiction presents...X Minus One.
"'X Minus One' hatches a new fictional universe with each episode. The series is united, however, by a consistent auditory aesthetic. It is rich with quavering theremins and faint, crackling radio transmissions. Heroes speak in plain voices while villains dither in mid-Atlantic accents. Robots and aliens, equally unreal at the time, sound and act tellingly alike. Horns blare and strings scream. Silence is employed liberally. The aesthetic is convincing and total, and it flatters the show's content. It lulls you through the most regressive episodes and intensifies the best. In 2015, it is twice transporting, from now to then and back again." (John Herrman, New York Times Magazine)
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The Dying Art Form: Great Old Time Radio Sci Fi
Many of the stories in this radio drama are staples of the Sci Fi canon, and it was fun to hear them acted out with the serious tones of the times. I'm a sucker for radio dramas in many ways, and wish audible would get more of these old shows in their collection.
While many of the concepts might be dated and pulpy, there is a sincerity in the voices of the actors. I was immediately transported back to the days of my childhood (in the 70's - not THAT far back), when I would curl up under my blanket at night to listen to scary and fantastical stories in my room, while my parents watched Gun Smoke, Bonanza, The Waltons or whatever was on that night - we had different tastes.
The special effects come off surprisingly well, and there's plenty of room to flesh out the images in your head.
Ray Bradbury has always been one of my favorites, so I enjoyed the dramatizations of the stories included. Nightfall by Asimoz was also a standout. But if I had to pinpoint what makes this a memorable collection, it's that we get to hear stories that haven't been published, i.e. the stories written by Lefferts and Kinoy specifically for the program. Whereas nowadays we can see reruns of classic shows on TV and see the skill that many script writers had, sadly we are not able to get so many of the stories from radio easily.
Hard to choose a favorite scene or story. There were many "corny" scenes, which when filtered through the lens of "that was the 50's" are still more enjoyable than cringe worthy.
As for being moved, it was more about being taken back to the "tell me a bedtime story" era of my youth, the nostalgia that keeps me optimistic and wanting to go to bed with just the slight sense of unease that the universe is huge and there just might be a monster under the bed.
If there is something to complain about, it's that the collection is not complete as it states. It ends after about the first third of episodes. I knew this coming in to the purchase. Though there are many repeats on the original broadcast run, there's no way 20 hours can fit 120+ episodes. I'm hoping with get the rest out soon and correctly call this Volume 1 of 3.
- Amazon Customer
Probably the Best Radio Show Ever Created
Out of all of those old radio shows produced from the 40's to the 60's, "X-Minus One" is by FAR my favorite.
Not only is the acting quality superb, but the production, writing, & sound effects couldn't be as good if they were made today.
X-Minus One was a series that rehashed a previous series known as "Dimension X". Both sci-fi radio dramas used scripts adapted from the VERY best science fiction authors of the time. Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Robert Sheckley, Philip K. Dick, & Robert A. Heinlein are just a few of the fantastic authors behind these short stories.
If you're a fan of science fiction, you WILL enjoy this series.
9.7 / 10.0
- Niels J. Rasmussen