“X minus 5…4…3…2…X minus 1… 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 maybe-worlds. The National Broadcasting Company, in cooperation with Galaxy Science Fiction magazine, presents:
X! Minus! One!”
Has it really been almost a year since X Minus One went off the air?
What? You’ve never heard of X Minus One?
Sit down, Lucy. I’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do.
As you know by now, I am a big fan of Galaxy Science Fiction (except they changed their name to simply “Galaxy” earlier this year; perhaps they are trying to diversify their audience, or perhaps spine lettering costs too much per letter). Galaxy is one of the Big Three s-f digests. Its content ranges from decent to excellent. So you can imagine how excited I was when NBC partnered with Galaxy to adapt some of its best stories into half-hour radio shows. And this from the network known for the Dinah Shore show and The Great Gildersleeve!
I was lucky enough to catch the show at the beginning thanks to the ads that appeared in Galaxy. I’m sure I’ve listened to the better part of a hundred of them. I never missed an episode by choice (even though I was familiar with all of the stories, all of them having appeared in Galaxy’s pages before). But, family matters sometimes took precedence, and on a few occasions, NBC switched up its broadcast schedule, leaving me rather steamed for the evening.
It is my understanding that there was another show early on in the decade with similar content, and I found out after the fact that John Campbell (editor of Astounding) tried doing his own science fiction dramatization show for a year or so, but I never caught a listen before it went off the air.
I only wish they would make more, or at least there might be some place I might listen to them all again. In case any of you find that NBC recorded them all on 33s somewhere, here are some of my favorites:
- “Skulking Permit” by Robert Sheckley
- “Junkyard” by Cliff Simak
- “A Pail of Air” by Fritz Leiber
- “Star, Bright” by Mark Clifton
- “Hallucination Orbit” by J.McIntosh (or was it J.M’Intosh?)
- “Saucer of Loneliness” by Ted Sturgeon
- “Something for Nothing” by Robert Sheckley
I think that’s the order in which I heard them. In any event, even if you can’t get your ears on the X Minus One adaptations, I’m sure you can find the written stories. They are all worth reading. I’m pretty sure Katherine MacLean, who I talked about a few days ago had one, too, though I don’t remember its name.
Being unable to listen to these shows again drives home just how ephemeral broadcast entertainment really is compared to the written word. We lament the loss of the Library at Alexandria, but we still have hundreds of surviving Classical works. X Minus Zero is just.. gone.
If NBC ever revives this show, I’m going to buy an old wire recorder or (since they are becoming quite affordable these days) a reel-to-reel tape recorder just so I can listen to episodes over and over. Maybe I’ll be the modern-day Alexandria of science fiction!
(Confused? Click here for an explanation as to what’s really going on)