Today is the 57th birthday of X Minus One
, a science fiction anthology that debuted on NBC
radio on 24 April 1955.
It began as a sort-of revival of pioneering sci-fi program, Dimension X
and the first fifteen episodes were remakes from that series. The remainder of the episodes were originals from staff writers Ernest
Kinoy and George Lefferts as well as their adaptations of new works by the likes of A. A. Phelps Jr., Alan Nourse, Algis Budrys, Arthur Sellings, Clifford Simak, Donald A. Wollheim, Evelyn Smith, F. L. Wallace, Finn O’Donovan, Fletcher Pratt, Frank M. Robinson, Frank Quattrochi, Frederic Brown, Frederick Pohl, Fritz Leiber, Gordon R. Dickson, Graham Doar, H. Beam Piper, H. L. Gold, Isaac Asimov, J. T. McIntosh, Jack McKenty, James Blish, James E. Gunn, James E. Gunn, James H. Schmitz, Katherine MacLean, L. Sprague de Camp, Mark Clifton, Milton Lesser, Murray Leinster, Ned Lang, Peter Phillips, Phillip K. Dick, Poul Anderson, Ray Bradbury, Richard Maples, Richard Wilson, Robert Bloch, Robert Heinlein, Robert Sheckley, Robert Silverberg, Ross Rockland, Stephen Arr, Stephen Vincent Benet, Steven Tall, Theodore sturgeon, Tom Goodwin, Vaughn Shelton, William Tenn, and Wyman Guin.
Each episode began with announcer (variously Ben Grauer, Bill Rippe, Don Pardo, Fred Collins, Jack Costello, Kenneth Banghart and Roger Tuttle) intoning:
Countdown for blastoff… X minus five, four, three, two, X minus one… Fire! 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.
As a result of renewed interest in Old Time Radio
, Robert Silverberg
wrote a new episode “The Iron Chancellor” in 1973 but did not result in a revival.
NBC was infamous for not showing much interest in their radio programs — especially as radio waned and TV waxed — and Dimension X suffered from being bounced around between Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and barely received any promotion. However, they didn’t skimp on the writing and sound effects budget and the results were frequently amazing.
Ultimately the series ran for 124 episodes (plus the audition). Its last episode aired 9 January, 1958. Almost all episodes have been preserved and most can be listened to here. They also appear on CDs and Audio DVDs, which can sometimes be found at Amoeba. NB: the ongoing popularity of X Minus One has led to some unscrupulous folks splicing together various previously existing material from different sources to create “newly discovered” episodes. Special thanks to the folks at the Digital Deli Too for their hard work in the name of preserving OTR. Consult with them before splurging.
Published by Eric Brightwell
Eric Brightwell is an essayist, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener. He lives in Los Angeles because he loves it -- not because he was born there. He doesn't really care about street art, sleb culture, sunshine, and prefers mass and active transit to cars.
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