Saturday, August 17, 2013

Quasar Dragon Spotlight On X Minus One.

X Minus One was a half-hour science fiction radio anthology that ran from April 24, 1955 to January 9, 1958 on NBC.  It was overseen by NBC staff writers Ernest Kinoy and George Lefferts, who also wrote some stories and adapted most of the rest.  The series featured stories by many of the best writers of that era (Bradbury, Asimov, Heinlein, Pohl, Dick, etc.), typically either a rewrite of a Dimension X script or taken "from the pages of Galaxy Magazine," and was one of the last great Old Time Radio series.

As with virtually every anthology series, the episodes were rather hit or miss. Some were great, while other (including most original stories by Kinoy and Lefferts) weren't very good.  But with so many episodes, if a listener likes even half of them, it's a great series.  Tastes vary so I'm reluctant to recommend any except to say that the stories by the better known writers tend to the best ones.

There was a single episode attempt to revive the series in 1973, that some purists do not consider part of the series.  And I'm the only person in the world, but I consider the 19 Nocturne Boulevard episode "The leech" to be an honorary X Minus One episode. (It's a dramatization of 1950's Galaxy Magazine story by a big name SF writer - Robert Sheckley).

While X Minus One had some flaws, such as a half-hour being a bit short for the adaptations, it was one of the high points of twentieth century science fiction.

The links after the fold are direct download MP3 from the Internet archive, except on names which lead to the original story at Project Gutenberg and on The 19 Nocturne Boulevard which leads to that site.

1. "And The Moon Be Still As Bright" by Ray Bradbury.  April 22, 1955
    Following the death of the Martians to human disease, the crew of the fourth expedition from Earth react very differently to the discovery. - Part of The Martian Chronicles.

2. "No Contact" by George Lefferts. April 24, 1955
     "A strange invisible barrier is frustrating Man's attempts to explore the depths of space. Six expeditions have been lost trying to cross it, their fate a mystery since no signal can pass through the barrier. This is the story of the seventh..." OTR Plot Spot

3. "The Parade" by George Lefferts. May 1, 1955
      An advertising agent is hired to promote the arrival of the Martians.  Thinking it's a hoax, he promotes it as a film.  An extremely cheesy episode.

4. "Mars is Heaven" by Ray Bradbury. May 8, 1955 
     The crew of the first expedition to Mars, find themselves in a small Earth town, populated by childhood friends and family.  - Part of The Martian Chronicles.

5. "Universe" by Robert A. Heinlein. May 15, 1955
     A generation ship is populated by descendants of the original crew who have forgotten virtually everything. 

6. "Knock" by  Fredric Brown and Ernest Kinoy. May 22, 1955
    Aliens have put the last surviving humans in a zoo.  Inspired by Brown's micro-story.

7. "The Man in the Moon" by George Lefferts. May 29, 1955
     "The Federal Missing Persons Bureau receives a desperate radio message from a crank who claims to be calling from the Moon (unlikely in 1950)."  OTR Plot Spot.

8. "Perigi's Wonderful Dolls" by George Lefferts. June 5, 1955
    A dollmaker's dolls are clearly much more than they seem.

9. "The Green Hills of Earth" by Robert A. Heinlein. July 7, 1955
     Rhysling, a blind vagabond in space, dreams of one last trip home to stand among the green hills of Earth.  Of interest, there is a real crater on the Moon named after this character.

10. "Dr. Grimshaw's Sanitorium" by Fletcher Pratt. July 14, 1955
    An insane asylum is much more than it seems.

11. "Nightmare" by Stephen Vincent Benét. July 21, 1955 based on the poem "The Revolt of the Machines"
     Somewhat light-hearted story about machines taking over the world

12. "The Embassy" by Donald A. Wollheim. July 28, 1955
     A detective is hired to find a group of Martian spies.  Cliché sci-fi.

13. "The Veldt" by Ray Bradbury. August 4, 1955
     Parents become concerned when their children spend too much time in a gruesome scene in what is essentially a holodeck.  Creepy.

14. "Almost Human" by Robert Bloch. August 11, 1955
     Crooks steal a robot named Junior and teach it to be bad.  A disappointingly cheesy story from Block.

15. "Courtesy" by Clifford D. Simak. August 18, 1955
    When a serum for a plague is depleted, scientists hope to find a solution from natives who are immune.

16. "Cold Equations" by Tom Godwin. August 25, 1955
    A woman stows away on a small spaceship hoping to see her husband.  The ship doesn't have fuel for the extra weight.  Can she be saved?

17. "Shanghaied" by Ernest Kinoy. September 1, 1955 
     "A man is drugged and press-ganged from his own stag party to serve on board a deepspace freighter outward bound on a fifteen-year round trip to Alpha Centauri." OTR Plot Spot

18. "The Martian Death March" by Ernest Kinoy. September 8, 1955.
     An obvious Western relocated to Mars, spider-like Martians follow a human from their reservation back to their homelands.  A decent story, despite its origin. 

19. "The Castaways" by Ernest Kinoy. September 15, 1955
     "Nuclear testing on a remote Pacific island goes awry when the natives—rather than be relocated—threaten to commit mass suicide to put a curse on the project." OTR Plot Spot

20. "And The Moon Be Still As Bright" (Repeat) September 22, 1955 Ray Bradbury
     See above.

21. "First Contact" by Murray Leinster. October 6, 1955
     An Earth spaceship and an alien spaceship meet in space.  Although they get along very well, can they really trust each other.  The most logically paranoid story ever.

22. "Child's Play" by William Tenn. October 20, 1955
     "A milquetoast lawyer accidentally receives a package in the mail containing a cloning machine from the future, with which he sets about making a duplicate capable of turning his life around." OTR Plot Spot.

23. "Requiem" by Robert A. Heinlein. October 27, 1955
   An elderly tycoon hires two desperate pilots to take him on the Moon trip has was denied in his youth.

24. "Hello, Tomorrow" by George Lefferts. November 3, 1955
     After generations of living underground, humanity has strict taboo against any mutations.  A normal human falls in love with a mutant.

25. "Dwellers in Silence" by Ray Bradbury. November 10, 1955
     Martian colonists return to a devastated Earth and find a shockingly normal family - Part of The Martian Chronicles.

26. "The Outer Limit" by Graham Doar. November 16, 1955
    A test pilot disappears and then returns long after his fuel would have been exhausted.

27. "There Will Come Soft Rains / Zero Hour" by Ray Bradbury. November 23, 1955
    An automated house continues to function after mankind has self-destructed. Children play a game about an alien invasion. 

28. "The Vital Factor" by Nelson Bond. November 30, 1955
     "Wayne Crowder, the ruthless head of Crowder Industries, assumes the Herculean task of being the first man in history to achieve space travel. Building the ship proves easy, but to propel it at sufficient speed seems impossible, until one man shows up with an answer... and a heavy price for achieving the stars." OTR Plot Spot.  

29. "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov. December 7, 1955
   On a world where periods of darkness are separated by thousands of years, civilization is threatened by an upcoming nightfall.

30. "To the Future" by Ray Bradbury. December 14, 1955 from "The Fox and the Forest"
    Time Travelers from a dystopic future come to the present day to escape.

31. "Marionettes, Inc." December 21, 1955 Ray Bradbury
    A husband buys a robot duplicate in order to vacation away from his wife.

32. "A Logic Named Joe" by Murray Leinster. December 28, 1955
     A computer gives out to much information. In some ways this story foreshadows the internet.

33. "The Roads Must Roll" by Robert A. Heinlein. January 4, 1956
    In a future where moving sidewalks have replaced roads, a strike threatens to cripple society.

34. "Time and Time Again" by H. Beam Piper. January 11, 1956
    The mind of a dying soldier is transported back in time into his childhood body.

35. "Perigi's Wonderful Dolls" by George Lefferts. (Rebroadcast) January 18, 1956
     See above

36. "The Parade" (Rebroadcast) by George Lefferts. January 25, 1956
     See above 

37. "The Cave of Night" by James E. Gunn. February 1, 1956
     An astronaut trapped in orbit inspires a worldwide rescue effort—but does he need it? OTR Plot Spot

38. "C-Chute" by Isaac Asimov. February 8, 1956
    A group of humans is taken hostage by aliens, but do not submit too quietly.

39. "Skulking Permit" by Robert Sheckley. February 15, 1956
    An isolated colony attempts to fit in with Earth culture, including by having a licensed criminal.

40. "Junkyard" by Clifford D. Simak. February 22, 1956 
    A spaceship lands on a planet covered in junk and the crew slowly starts to forget important skills.

41. "Hello, Tomorrow" by George Lefferts. (Repeat) February 29, 1956 
    See above.

42. "A Gun for Dinosaur" by  L. Sprague de Camp. March 7, 1956
    A hunting safari to the Cretaceous has trouble with an arrogant jerk.

43. "Tunnel Under the World" by Frederik Pohl . March 14, 1956
      A man realizes that every day has been June 15th. 

44. "A Thousand Dollars a Plate" by Jack McKenty. March 21, 1956
    A group of astronomers fight back against a casino whose fireworks have been ruining their observations. Cheesy.

45. "A Pail of Air" by Fritz Leiber. March 28, 1956
    A family attempts to survive on a future Earth that has lost its atmosphere after moving further from the sun.

46. "How-2" by Clifford D. Simak. April 3, 1956 
     "A man orders a robotic dog kit in the mail, and instead receives an android—one ready to serve in every capacity and equally ready to reproduce himself a thousand-fold. All his problems vanish - until the government sticks their bean-counting nose into it." OTR Plot Spot

47. "Star, Bright" by Mark Clifton. April 10, 1956
    Children are inexplicably mutanting to higher levels of intelligence.

48. "Jaywalker" by Ross Rocklynne. April 17, 1956 
     "A pregnant wife stows away on an Earth-Moon liner to be with her husband the pilot, unaware that space travel is fatal both to her and her unborn child. Her husband must choose between their lives and a maneuver which could kill everyone on board." OTR Plot Spot

49. "The Sense of Wonder" by Milton Lesser. April 24, 1956
     A generation ship is populated by descendants of the original crew who have forgotten virtually everything.  Similar to Heinlein's Universe above.

50. "Sea Legs" by Frank Quattrocchi . May 1, 1956
     "A homesick space jockey returns to an overcrowded, authoritarian Earth whose welcome is little warmer than the cold of space." OTR Plot Spot.

51. "The Seventh Order" by Jerry Sohl. May 8, 1956
     "A robot shows up at a college professor's doorstep to announce he has come to prepare the way for an alien invasion. He is armed with enough personal firepower to take on anything we can send against him. Or is he?" OTR Plot Spot.

52. "Hallucination Orbit" by J. T. McIntosh. May 15, 1956
   A man stationed alone for years in outer space begins to question reality.

53. "The Defenders" by Philip K. Dick. May 22, 1956 
   Humanity has moved underground to escape the contamination of war and has left machines to continue the fighting.

54. "Lulungomeena" by Gordon R. Dickson. May 29, 1956
     "Tensions at a deepspace relay station erupt over a veteran's claim that his homeworld, Lulungomeena, is the most beautiful in the galaxy. To resolve the dispute, they must rely on the arbitration of an alien Hixabrod, the most literal and honest race in the universe." OTR Plot Spot.

55. "Project Mastodon" by Clifford D. Simak. June 5, 1956
     Classic time travel story about some ambitious individuals setting up their own independent country 50,000 yeas in the past.

56. "If You Was A Moklin" by Murray Leinster. June 12, 1956
    A cute, charming alien race want to be just like humans.

57. "Project Trojan" by Ernest Kinoy. June 19, 1956
     "An odd episode about the British hiring a Sci-Fi writer to fool the Nazis into thinking they have developed a super Death Ray. Hopefully, the Nazis will divert their scientific resources from the V-2 program to developing an 'impossible' counter-weapon. Best laid plans..." OTR Plot Spot.

58. "Wherever You May Be" by James E. Gunn. June 26, 1956
   A rare fantasy on X Minus One.  A salesman meets a farmer's daughter who happens to be a witch.

59. "Mr. Costello, Hero" by Theodore Sturgeon.  July 3, 1956
     "A star freighter's crew is glad to see the end of their enigmatic passenger, Mr. Costello. During their run through the circuit of Earth's colonies he has managed to either manipulate or destroy everything and everyone around him. But pity the poor isolated colony world where they dump him off..." OTR Plot Spot.

60. "Bad Medicine" July 10, 1956 Finn O'Donnevan
    "A New York jetbus driver with a simple case of homicidal mania purchases a home computer therapist, unaware that this particular machine has been programmed to treat only Martian psychoses."  OTR Plot Spot

61. "The Old Die Rich" July 17, 1956 H. L. Gold
    The bodies of many old people star being found with significant amounts of money in their possession.  The cause of death, starvation.

62. "The Stars Are The Styx" by Theodore Sturgeon. July 24, 1956
     Trouble stars when the coordinator for outbound prospective colonists falls in love with one of them.

63. "Student Body" by  F. L. Wallace.  July 31, 1956
    Highly evolved alien mice versus human colonists.

64. "The Last Martian" August 7, 1956 Fredric Brown
     "A reporter for a big city newspaper overhears a very confused young man in a bar confess that he is not who he appears to be, but is in fact the last of the race of Mars, somehow transported to Earth into a human body.OTR Plot Spot.

65. "The Snowball Effect" by Katherine MacLean . August 14, 1956
     "A sociologist seeking to prove his equations of exponential growth dynamics tests his methods out on a ladies sewing club, with more than spectacular results.OTR Plot Spot.

66. "Surface Tension" by James Blish. August 28, 1956
    a civilization living in a drop of water try to explore beyond the "surface"

67. "Tunnel Under The World" by Frederik Pohl. (Rebroadcast) September 4, 1956
   See above

68. "The Lifeboat Mutiny" by Robert Sheckley. September 11, 1956
     An alien lifeboat traps a group of humans who attempt to use it cross an alien sea.  Unfortunately for them, it's a war relic programmed to protect a species of aliens with vastly different needs than humans.

69. "The Mapmakers" by Frederik Pohl.September 26, 1956
   A starship's navigational system is destroyed and all will be lost unless a miracle occurs.

70. "Protective Mimicry" by Algis Budrys. October 3, 1956
     "A galactic treasury agent must trace down the origin of counterfeit credits which are good enough to fool the government's most sophisticated detectors. His search leads him to a world of swamps and primitive natives, a place which could not possibly possess the technology necessary." OTR Plot Spot.

71. "Colony" by Philip K. Dick. October 10, 1956
    Classic about an alien planet that is too good to be true.  Shape changing and a twisted sense of humor highlight this one.

72. "Soldier Boy" by Michael Shaara. October 17, 1956
    "Earth's colonies are spread too thin over space, making them easy targets for attack by an unknown alien race. When a minor colony planet is threatened, the military can only spare a one-man defense force." OTR Plot Spot.

73. "Pictures Don't Lie" by Katherine MacLean. October 24, 1956
    An alien ship is on its way to Earth

74. "Sam, This Is You" by Murray Leinster. October 31, 1956
    A man recieves a telephone call from the future.

75. "Appointment In Tomorrow" by Fritz Leiber. November 7, 1956
     Is the giant computer that makes all important decisions a fraud?  Two scientists think so.

76. "The Martian Death March" by Ernest Kinoy. (Repeat) November 14, 1956
     See above.

77. "Chain of Command" by  Steven Arr. November 21, 1956
     Intelligent mice want a better life.

78. "The Castaways" by Ernest Kinoy. (Repeat) November 28, 1956
     See above.

79. "There Will Come Soft Rains" & "Zero Hour" by Ray Bradbury (Rebroadcast) December 5, 1956
     See above.

80. "Hostess" by Isaac Asimov. December 12, 1956
    Is an alien visitor everything he seems or do sometimes words have two meanings?

81. "The Reluctant Heroes" by Frank M. Robinson. December 19, 1956
    After a long stationing on the Moon, their is conflict over who gets to return to Earth first.

82. "Honeymoon in Hell" by Fredric Brown. December 26, 1956
     "Under the dual threat of a nuclear war and a serious drop in male birth, civilization seems doomed. Until a supercomputer concocts a plan to send a man from our side and a woman from theirs on a mission to the Moon to hopefully conceive a son.OTR Plot Spot.

83. "The Moon Is Green" by Fritz Leiber. January 2, 1957
    A husband orders his wife to stop opening their window and risking radioactive contamination.  There wouldn't be a story if she didn't disobey.

84. "Saucer of Loneliness" by Theodore Sturgeon. January 9, 1957
     "After an unsuccessful suicide attempt, a woman explains to her rescuer how she received a message from a flying saucer, her subsequent imprisonment and interrogation by a government bent on discovering that message, and... her lifelong loneliness." OTR Plot Spot.

85. "The Girls From Earth" by Frank M. Robinson. January 16, 1957 
    Con artists get the all-male Mars colony to pay for a shipment of beautiful women.  A possible inspiration for "Mudd's Women"

86. "Open Warfare" by James E. Gunn. January 23, 1957
    A robot golfer versus human golfer.  Cheesy humor.

87. "Caretaker" by James H. Schmitz. January 30, 1957
      A man and his wife wage war against the alien Zares.  All is not as it seems.

88. "Venus Is A Man's World" by William Tenn. February 6, 1957
    Men versus women on a colony ship to Venus.

89. "The Trap" by Finn O'Donnevan. February 13, 1957
    Two drunks with a very special trap capture more than they bargained for.

90. "Field Study" by Peter Phillips. February 20, 1957
     "An unorthodox healer selling placebos seems to be achieving a phenomenal number of cures." OTR Plot Spot.

91. "Real Gone" by Ernest Kinoy. February 27, 1957
     "A sculptor becomes rich over his miniature creations, renowned for their astoundingly realistic detail. But a jazz musician friend of his soon discovers there is more than to his masterpieces than mere artistic talent." OTR Plot Spot

92. "The Seventh Victim" by Robert Sheckley. March 6, 1957
    a well-known classic story of government sanctioned hunting of willing prey.

93. "The Lights On Precipice Peak" by Stephen Tall. March 13, 1957
    Unexplained glowing lights are seen in the mountains of Wyoming.

94. "Protection" by Robert Sheckley. March 20, 1957
    "When a man receives a guardian alien to watch over him, he doesn't realize just how much trouble he is really in for." OTR Plot Spot

95. "At The Post" March 27, 1957 H. L. Gold
     A bookie tries to save his wife who suddenly entered a catatonic state.

96. "Martian Sam" by Ernest Kinoy. April 3, 1957
   A Martian baseball pitcher does too well for the leagues own good.  Less funny than it should be.

97. "Something For Nothing" by Robert Sheckley. April 10, 1957
    A machine to grant virtually any wish.  Of course, there's a catch.

98. "The Discovery Of Morniel Matheway" by William Tenn. April 17, 1957
   A time traveler lets an artist know that he will be famous in the future.

99. "Man's Best Friend" by Evelyn E. Smith. April 24, 1957
    A computer chooses a man to assassinate a very cooperative overlord and assume his position. One of the rare comedic episodes that is even vaguely funny.

100. "Inside Story" by Richard Wilson. June 20, 1957
    "A newshound on Mars looking for a big story goes undercover in a colony of nullies—a segregated camp reserved for the violently insane." OTR Plot Spot.

101. "The Category Inventor" by Arthur Sellings. June 27, 1957
     A man must create a new type of job to avoid being automated into unemployment.

102. "Skulking Permit" by Robert Sheckley (Rebroadcast) July 4, 1957
     See above

103. "Early Model" by Robert Sheckley. July 11, 1957
    A personal forcefield is almost as much trouble as it's worth.

104. "The Merchant Of Venus" by  A. H. Phelps Jr.  July 18, 1957
   An overpopulated Earth, a nearly empty Venus, but few will migrate there.

105. "The Haunted Corpse" by Frederik Pohl. July 25, 1957
   A scientist who can transfer his mind to other bodies plans on outwitting the army.

106. "End As A World" by F. L. Wallace. August 1, 1957
     "People all over the world seem to know that the world, as they know it, is about to come to an abrupt end at a certain hour of a certain day... but no one seems particularly concerned." OTR Plot Spot.

107. "The Scapegoat" by Richard Maples. August 8, 1957
     "Rescuing an old man from an apparent mugging is not necessarily a good idea - especially if the 'victim' happens to be an alien exiled from his own planet for what soon become obvious reasons.OTR Plot Spot.

108. "At The Post" by H. L. Gold.  (Repeat) August 15, 1957
    See above

109. "Drop Dead" by Clifford D. Simak. August 22, 1957
    "A survey team encounters a planet with only a single indigenous species, a bizarre life form which is both utterly harmless and invariably deadly." OTR Plot Spot.

110. "Volpla" by Wyman Guin. August 29, 1957
    "A scientist creates a race of intelligent flying creatures that soon get out of hand."

111. "Saucer Of Loneliness" by Theodore Sturgeon. (Repeat) September 5, 1957
    See above.

112. "The Old Die Rich" by H. L. Gold. (Rebroadcast) September 12, 1957
     See above.

113. "Tsylana" by James E. Gunn. September 19, 1957
     An act of theft creates problems in a highly conformist future.

114. "The Native Problem" by  Robert Sheckley. September 26, 1957
     Humorous story about a marooned space traveler who cannot get the crew of another ship to believe that he is not a native.

115. "A Wind Is Rising" by Finn O'Donnevan. October 3, 1957
     A pair of humans on an alien world discover that the high winds are much more severe than they had anticipated.

116. "Death Wish" by Robert Sheckley. October 10, 1957
     A spaceship crew with no hope of rescue must rely on a computer that is believed to be misanthropic.

117. "Point Of Departure" by Vaughn Shelton. October 17, 1957
     "Ancient tablets uncovered in Egypt describe what seem to be blueprints for the construction of a starship drive system" OTR Plot Spot.

118. "The Light" by Poul Anderson. October 24, 1957
     The first lunar astronauts find footprints.

119. "Lulu" by Clifford D. Simak. October 31, 1957
     Radio butchering of Simak's almost funny story of a ship's computer that falls in love with its crew and the problems that result from that.

120. "The Coffin Cure" by Alan E. Nourse. November 21, 1957
    A cure for the common cold causes problems and an unorthodox solution is found.  Bad pun.

121. "Shocktroop" by Daniel F. Galouye. November 28, 1957
    A micoscopic alien invasion runs into serious problems.

122. "The Haunted Corpse" by Frederik Pohl. (Rebroadcast) December 12, 1957
     See above

123. "Double Dare" by Robert Silverberg. December 19, 1957
    Human engineers versus alien engineers. Which are better?

124. "Target One" by Frederik Pohl. December 26, 1957
     "In a desperate attempt to avert nuclear Armageddon, a man travels back in time to kill the one man responsible for bringing the world to the brink - Albert Einstein." OTR Plot Spot.

125. "Prime Difference" by Alan E. Nourse. January 2, 1958
     A husband has an illegal robot duplicate of himself made so that he can have an affair.Is there a possible outcome in which that wouldn't end poorly for the man?

126. "Gray Flannel Armor" by Finn O'Donnevan. January 9, 1958
     "A lonely bachelor accepts a free trial offer from a matchmaking service that guarantees success through its strategy of 'spontaneous fate', and a little cheating on the sly."

127. "The Iron Chancellor" by Robert Silverberg. January 27, 1973
    A robot programmed to protect its family does its job far too well.

128. (Honorary)  "The Leech" 20XX. Robert Sheckley - 19 Nocturne Boulevard.
     "Classic era science fiction about a very odd visitor from outer space."

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