Divider
Go to Main Menu Go to Plot Archives
Divider

X Minus One

holds the record for the longest running Sci-Fi radio series ever produced, airing on NBC for almost three years (1955-58) and spanning 130 episodes (and one revival show that had nothing to do with the original production).

However, as successful as it was, the popularity of radio drama was on the wane as the juggernaut of television inexorably took over the home. Low budgets and increasingly disinterested sponsors made production difficult, but these adversities were somewhat counterbalanced by a direct tie-in with Galaxy magazine, a popular Sci-Fi digest of the period. Most of the stories were culled directly from the pages of Galaxy, or remakes of stories produced for Dimension X (of which X Minus One was originally a revival series). Many of Sci-Fi's most popular authors got mass exposure through this series, and even today X Minus One is still generally considered a cornerstone of radio drama.

Currently this archive contains 115 of 115 plotlines

See the CD cover art for this series.

Divider

Webmaster Recommends:
Chain of Command | A Gun for Dinosaur | Hallucination Orbit | The Lifeboat Mutiny | Pictures Don't Lie | The Reluctant Heroes | Sam, This is You | Sea Legs | The Seventh Victim | Skulking Permit | Star, Bright | A Wind is Rising

Jeff Dickson Recommends:
C-Chute | Early Model | First Contact | Hallucination Orbit | Lulungomeena | The Mapmakers | The Reluctant Heroes | Sea Legs | The Seventh Victim


$1,000 a Plate

aka: "A Thousand Dollars a Plate"
Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Mars
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Jack McKenty

Astronomers on a colonized Mars take on the local casino syndicate to stop the nightly fireworks which are fogging their photographic plates.

Almost Human

Year: 1955
Duration:
Genre: Robots
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert A. Bloch

A scientist builds a robot - 'Junior' - capable of intelligence and consciousness, but the machine is stolen by a criminal who has other ideas for its uses. Junior, on the other hand, has plans of his own.

Another version of this story originally appeared on Dimension X. See also 'Beware Tomorrow' (The Mysterious Traveler).

Reviews:
A by-the-numbers story. It's quaint, in a way. A solitary scientist builds a childlike robot, the scientist's secretary has an ex-boyfriend who's a mobster, he makes off with the girl and the bot, you know the rest. Bleah. The lack of imagination here is impressive. --- Brad Reed

And the Moon Be Still As Bright

Year: 1955
Duration:
Genre: Mars
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ray Bradbury

As though wiping out the Martian race with Earthborn diseases weren't enough, humans demonstrate a hostile contempt for what relics and monuments the Martians left behind—until one man with a conscience and a gun decides to stand up for the dead. Part of the Martian Chronicles future history.

Other versions of this story aired on Dimension X and Omni Audio Experience. See also 'The Martian Death March' (X Minus One and Dimension X); See the full listing of Martian Chronicles stories under 'Ray Bradbury' on the Famous Authors on Radio page.

Appointment in Tomorrow

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Fritz Leiber

A look into a dark future controlled by the 'Thinkers', and the computer brain they rely on to do the actual thinking.

See also 'Man's Best Friend' (X Minus One), 'The Last Rose of Summer' (BBC), and 'When the Machines Went Mad' (2000 Plus).

Reviews:
Probably my favorite episode of the series. It tells two stories: the operators of the Big Computer Brain that runs everything, and two scientists who think the Big Computer Brain is a giant scam. It's cynical, funny, and takes a really nasty shot at science fiction fans, who evidently were the same in the Fifties as they are today. --- Brad Reed

At the Post

Year: 1957; 1957
Duration:
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: H.L. Gold

Where do the minds of catatonics go? A horserace bookie finds out when his wife's comatose condition draws him into an alien operation to record all of our collective human knowledge before we destroy ourselves.

Reviews:
Not terribly interesting, though it does have a redeeming trait: the bookie, a diehard cynic, is an unreliable interpreter of events. Otherwise, it's a boring "Foolish humans, thou hast created the means of thine own destruction!" story. --- Brad Reed

Bad Medicine

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Humour
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Sheckley

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.

Caretaker

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: James H. Schmitz

A mission to rescue the survivor of a long lost expedition to a remote planet, discovers him not only alive and well, but engaged in a private war to protect the native humanoids from the slug-like 'Zares'.

Reviews:
An interesting story very similar to the Twilight Zone episode where the main character thinks she is ugly and so she has doctors operate on her face but then you see that she is the one who is pretty and everyone else is ugly. When I first heard the man who had been isolated on the alien world say that his alien wife was really beautiful but she wasn't around yet for the men to meet her I instantly knew something was up. When he later described the two rival groups on the planet and said that his wife was from the good ones and that they were beautiful and the other ones were ugly I figured that it would be otherwise. I guess these types of stories have been regurgitated on television so much that it doesn't shock me but it is still good to hear them in their original or close to original form. --- Barry Howell

Castaways, The

Year: 1955; 1956
Duration:
Genre:
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: George Lefferts and Ernest Kinoy

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.

Two separate versions of this story were produced for X Minus One. Also, an original production appeared on Dimension X.

Reviews:
How's this for a truly Fifties idea? An unspecified new kind of nuke is about to be tested on a tiny island. The natives refuse to leave and end up committing mass suicide to curse the project. Shortly after, the bomb fails to detonate. Excellent setup. The payoff was dumb, but what a setup. --- Brad Reed

Category Inventor, The

aka: "The Category Inventors"
Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Arthur Sellings

In the future, staying competitive in the super-automated, highly specialized job market can be tough—unless you can invent a profession nobody has ever thought of before.

Cave of Night, The

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: James E. Gunn

An astronaut trapped in orbit inspires a worldwide rescue effort—but does he need it?

C-Chute, The

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Aliens / War
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Isaac Asimov

A mixed group of humans is taken captive when their spaceliner is boarded and hijacked by enemy aliens.

Chain of Command

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Humour
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Stephen Arr

Radioactive experiments at a top secret government research lab inadvertently produce intelligent mice, who take exception to the traps laid out for them in the hallways... such exception, in fact, that one mouse is willing to take his case to Washington.

Reviews:
Like the episode "Nightmare," this is a strange combination of whimsy and paranoia. I didn't much care for it. It seemed like a relaxing frippery created by a writer so steeped in paranoia he didn't know how to write any other way. --- Brad Reed

Child's Play

Year: 1955
Duration:
Genre: Super Science
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: William Tenn

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.

Another version of this story originally aired on Dimension X. A more recent version was produced by Seeing Ear Theatre. See also 'Marionettes, Inc.' (Dimension X and X Minus One) and 'Prime Difference' (X Minus One)

Coffin Cure, The

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Humour
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Alan E. Nourse

A research company discovers an answer to Mankind's oldest and greatest dream—a cure for the common cold. But as the old saying goes, the cure is often worse than the disease.

Cold Equations

aka: "The Cold Equations"
Year: 1955
Duration:
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Tom Godwin

Classic story of a space pilot on an emergency medical run who finds himself carrying a stowaway. His shuttle, however, does not have enough fuel to land with the extra weight.

Versions of this story also appeared on Exploring Tomorrow, Future Tense, Sci-Fi Radio, and the CBC pilot Faster Than Light.

Reviews:
This is one of the saddest OTR episodes I've heard so far. --- David Hassell

Very good episode. The woman snuck on board because her husband was on the target world, and she had no idea about the difficulties of fuel consumption in the far frontiers. It's a sad story. If she stays on the ship, sixteen men die, including her husband. If she leaves, she dies. There is no third option. And that's that. A cold, cold situation. Very well done. --- Brad Reed

Colony

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Philip K. Dick

A survey expedition on a distant planet must determine whether the world is safe for colonization. It seems ideal, in fact, until one scientist reports that his microscope tried to strangle him.

See also 'Drop Dead', 'Student Body' (X Minus One), and 'Here There be Tygers' (Bradbury 13)

Reviews:
Very Philip Dick: things are not what they seem, kinda hallucinatory, evil humor. A good episode, with an odd side bit: the commander of the ship is a woman. This being the Fifties, she's not all that commanding, but still. Not the best X Minus One, but good. --- Brad Reed

Courtesy

Year: 1955
Duration:
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Clifford D. Simak

An expedition to the planet Landro meets with disaster when the serum protecting against a local plague runs out. The natives are immune to the disease, but seem reluctant to explain the source of their natural immunity.

NOTE: The same characters appear again in a later episode, 'Junkyard'. Another version of this story originally aired on Dimension X.

Reviews:
Didn't quite get this one. I think the premise was an interesting idea, but just not the solution that was given. However this is sci-fi and exploring anything and everything is what it is all about. --- Barry Howell

Death Wish

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Sheckley

A mishap aboard a spaceship sends it hurtling out of the Solar System with no hope of rescue, save for an onboard computer which the ship's engineer is convinced hates humans.

See also 'The Mapmakers' (X Minus One), 'Survival' (BBC) and 'Space Wreck' (2000 Plus).

Defenders, The

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Future Earth / War
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Philip K. Dick

Mankind has retreated underground to escape the horrors of a surface decimated by World War Three, leaving the machines to continue the fighting.

Another version of this story appeared on Future Tense. See also 'Hello, Tomorrow' (X Minus One and Dimension X) and 'The Last Objective' (Dimension X).

Reviews:
It's such a period piece it makes my teeth ache. On the plus side, it's a gripping story, well told. To see the naked fears of a culture so used to war and just coming to understand the terror of nuclear weapons is revealing, lemme tell ya. To the audience of 1955, the fear of nuclear war wasn't abstract. It felt real and inevitable. That'll scare the pants off of you. --- Brad Reed

Discovery of Morniel Mathaway, The

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Humour
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: William Tenn

A worthless artist receives a visitor from the future who tells him his art will come to be known as the work of a genius.

A version was produced for Future Tense. See also 'Sam, This is You' (X Minus One).

Dr Grimshaw's Sanitarium

aka: "Dr Grimshaw's Sanitorium"
Year: 1955
Duration:
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Fletcher Pratt

An Private Eye infiltrates an insane asylum to investigate rumors of strange goings-on, and discovers some bizarre physical transformations.

Versions of this story also appeared on Future Tense and Dimension X.

Double Dare

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Silverberg

Two human engineers get caught in a deadly game of one-upmanship on an alien planet.

Drop Dead

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Clifford D. Simak

A survey team encounters a planet with only a single indigenous species, a bizarre life form which is both utterly harmless and invariably deadly.

See also 'Colony', 'Student Body' (X Minus One), and 'Here There be Tygers' (Bradbury 13).

Reviews:
Not much of a story. Kinda boring. On the other hand, you'll never hear the word "critter" uttered as frequently as you will during this episode. --- Brad Reed

Dwellers in Silence

Year: 1955
Duration:
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ray Bradbury

Colonists from Mars return to Earth generations after the Atomic War and discover a few survivors—a family with some very odd peculiarities about them. Part of the Martian Chronicles series.

Another version of this story originally appeared on Dimension X. See also 'A Pail of Air' (X Minus One) ;See the full listing of Martian Chronicles stories under 'Ray Bradbury' on the Famous Authors on Radio page.

Early Model

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Aliens / Humour
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Sheckley

A personal forcefield provided for a First Contact Agent backfires when the natives he's meant to survey interpret his invulnerability as demonic influence and decide he must be destroyed.

Reviews:
This is actually a pretty funny story with a somewhat twist ending. The protectant the main character wears seems to protect him at the most inopportune times and therefore gets him into a lot of trouble (which was quite hilarious actually, especially when he tries to shake hands with the head alien chief). What happens when he finally takes it off at the end was a nice twist. I especially liked how the alien's speech was translated into a BBC announcer voice. This story reminded me of a "Monsters" episode I saw on TV many years ago in which a man with heart trouble wears this thing that protects him from potential heart attacks as well anything else that poses a risk to his life. After it goes off several times he wants to get rid of it but the people who installed it won't take it off cause it would be a breach of contract.--- Barry Howell

Embassy, The

Year: 1955
Duration:
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Donald Wollheim

A detective agency is hired by a crackpot who wants them to investigate and expose a nest of Martians sent to prepare the way for an invasion of Earth.

Another version of this story originally aired on Dimension X.

End As a World

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: F.L. Wallace

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.

Field Study

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Super Science
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Peter Phillips

An unorthodox healer selling placebos seems to be achieving a phenomenal number of cures.

A version of this story was produced for Future Tense.

First Contact

Year: 1955
Duration:
Genre: Space Exploration/Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Murray Leinster
Awards: Hugo (retro), 1966; SFWA - Hall of Fame, 1970

Classic story of the first encounter with an alien race and the mutual distrust that would involve—neither ship wishes to be the first to depart for fear of giving away clues of their origin to a potential adversary.

Versions of this story also appeared on Dimension X and Exploring Tomorrow.

Reviews:
Probably my very favorite episode from X Minus One; A true sci-fi classic, very original and exciting in a speculative sort of way. Anyway, you must hear this show! I highly recommend it! --- Luc L'Heureux

Girls from Earth, The

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Humour / Mars
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Frank M. Robinson

Two crooks con the all-male colony on Mars into paying for a shipment of beautiful women from home at a hundred dollars a head, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Reviews:
A western story rewritten as a space story. It's okay, though. The con men hit upon the idea of importing brides for miners on Mars. To drum up business, they doctor the forms to make the women look beautiful and young. They plan on scooting out before the ships arrive, but their plans don't quite work out. Not too bad an episode. --- Brad Reed

Gray Flannel Armor

Year: 1958
Duration:
Genre: Speculative
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Sheckley

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. No real sci-fi elements here.

A version of this story was later produced for Future Tense (as 'The Romance Game').

Green Hills of Earth, The

Year: 1955
Duration:
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert A. Heinlein

Classic story of a space engineer who suffers a tragic accident and ends up tramping about the Solar System singing about the life of spacers and dreaming of returning to Earth once more before he dies.

Versions of this story appeared on Dimension X and CBS Radio Workshop; also a TV version was produced for a 50's show called 'Out There'.

Reviews:
'The Green Hills of Earth" is a story by Robert A. Heinlein adapted to radio by no less than three production companies. Dimension X, X Minus One, and the CBS Radio Workshop. The first two, the "X" sessions paint the main character, Rhysling to be a drunk and a jokester. He loses his sight, and goes on to write the greatest song in the galaxy, "The Green Hills of Earth." The CBS version shows Rhysling to be a rude sot that already has this song written, but with no ending. When Rhysling looses his sight in the CBS version, he finishes the song.

All three versions have merit, and are very well done. Please note, the actor in both "X" sessions can sing. Not so much for the CBS version. If music is your forté, X Minus One is better because the whole songs are played. Dimension X has the better acting. The CBS version is just plain edgy, Rhysling seems very bitter about a lot of things. This is my favorite radio story. My favorite telling would have to be the Dimension X version. The legend of Rhysling is real in the hearts of those who believe it. Just take a look at how obsessed Apollo XV astronauts were when looking for Rhysling crater on the moon. --- John Pote

Gun for Dinosaur, A

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Time Travel
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: L. Sprague de Camp

A safari into the Cretaceous to hunt for Tyrannosaurus Rex is endangered by a reckless glory hound, whose ineptitude and arrogance are matched only by his capacity for murder.

See also 'Project Mastodon' (X Minus One), and 'A Sound of Thunder' (BBC, Bradbury 13, and SF68).

Reviews:
I love everything about this episode - the acting is superb, the situation is unique, the tension profound, the danger real. This is probably my favorite OTR episode of all time. --- David Hassell

Pretty darn good. Most worthy of a listen. Not too hefty a subject; it felt like a good episode of Jonny Quest or a comic book. But it's a fine example of middleweight sci-fi. --- Brad Reed

When it comes to listening to old time radio, I guess I'm no different than some people in that I will listen to certain shows based on my mood at the time. A Gun For Dinosaur is an episode that I can listen to just about anytime. This is an episode that I usually give to people if they are new and have asked about where to begin. There are times when I want something a little deeper, but I will always enjoy listening to adventures like this one that just take you for a ride and don't let you off until the end. This is one of my favorites. --- Will Todd

I thought I would point out a quirky little fact about an X Minus One episode that you may want to include in the reviews. In the episode "A Gun for Dinosaur" the music is the same music score used in the legendary Ed Wood film Plan 9 from Outer Space. Just thought that was fun. --- Brian Y

Hallucination Orbit

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: J.T. McIntosh

Stationed alone on Pluto for six years and suffering from isolation psychosis, a man begins to have 'visitors'.

See also 'The Eleventh Plague' (CBS Radio Mystery Theater).

Reviews:
An interesting examination of the effect long periods of isolation will have on future space exploration. Solitosis will likely be as much a threat as any physical hardships we encounter out there, and it is as inevitable as old age. In this story it is not so much a question of if the hero will get it, but how bad he will get it. In severe cases it causes hallucinations, as the brain tries to fill out the gap in normal social interactions. Even the rational, tough-minded personalities we will no doubt depend on for such jobs are not immune. Their cold reason will not protect them from solitosis; it will merely allow them to recognize that they are slowly going insane. Not a lot of action here - but a great psychological study. --- Jeff Dickson

Haunted Corpse, The

Year: 1957; 1957
Duration:
Genre: Super Science
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Frederik Pohl

A scientist who resents the 'protection' of the military in his secret work to transfer minds from one body to another, hatches a private plan to outwit his benefactors.

Reviews:
Not good. Two points of interest for this episode: the slightly comical narrator and the somewhat interesting mystery of trying to figure out what exactly the scientist's device does. Aside from that, dumb. Plus, some awfully big logic holes in the story's conclusion. --- Brad Reed

Hello, Tomorrow

aka: "Hello Tomorrow"
Year: 1955; 1956
Duration:
Genre: War/Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: George Lefferts

To escape a world of radioactive dust and intense gamma radiation, the survivors of the 3rd Atomic War burrowed underground and, over the next 2,000 years, rebuilt civilization. But with scant resources, such a civilization has no place for the genetically inferior... or for a geneticist who falls in love with one of them.

See also 'The Defenders' (X Minus One) and 'The Last Objective' (Dimension X).

Honeymoon in Hell

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Humour
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Fredric Brown

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.

Reviews:
A bit boring and predictable, with some slightly weird sexual politics to make it a curiosity. Nothing great. --- Brad Reed

Hostess

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Isaac Asimov

A housewife offers lodging to an alien psychologist who finds humans both strange and fascinating, and wishes to observe life in an average home. Her husband, however, is convinced the alien has a more sinister purpose in mind—one which may affect the future of the human race.

Reviews:
A first class mystery drama that has many unique features: it has only three characters, is set in a family home, doesn't have a "hero" in the classic sense and perhaps all three characters are "the victims". Nevertheless the plot is ingenious and far-reaching. It is no wonder that the short story upon which it is based has appeared in so many SF anthologies.

This is a special treat for Asimov fans. It is a perfect enactment of the story and it includes a generous use of Asimov's original dialogue. While there are minor omissions this does not at all detract from the tale and in fact may well help make it more appealing to a more modern audience. However, pedants may well notice that one "clue" has not been included (I'm not going to mention it here as it would give the game away to new listeners). Whether you're an Asimov fan or not this should definitely be on your listening list! --- Anthony Fenlon

How-2

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Robots / Humour
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Clifford D. Simak

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.

Reviews:
Excellent acting sets this story apart. The nervous stutter of the lead character makes this humorous situation all the more entertaining. --- C. Phillips

If You Was a Moklin

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Murray Leinster

The primitive, native Moklins are so enamored of humans that they want to be just like us. But the humans soon discover that imitation can not only be flattering, but deadly...

Inside Story

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Mars
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Richard Wilson

A newshound on Mars looking for a big story goes undercover in a colony of nullies—a segregated camp reserved for the violently insane.

Reviews:
The setup is halfway promising. A wildly infectious disease has hit some people on Mars, turning them into violent loons. They're kept in a camp, and nobody, not even the guards, comes within a hundred yards of them. A reporter puts on an experimental invisible spacesuit and infiltrates the camp to see what's really going on. The answer proves to be disappointing. --- Brad Reed

Iron Chancellor, The

Year: 1973
Duration:
Genre: Robots
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Silverberg

A robot created to make the lives of the family which purchased it safer and healthier undertakes its role with fanatical devotion.

[NOTE: This episode is NOT from the original X Minus One series. Rather, it was an attempt to revive the series, independently produced in 1973. I have included it here only because many program logs include it as belonging to the series.] See also 'With Folded Hands' (Dimension X)

Jaywalker

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Space Travel
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ross Rocklynne

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.

Junkyard

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Clifford D. Simak

On a remote planet littered with alien junk, a survey team find themselves trapped when their engineers suddenly can't remember how to lift the ship.

Reviews:
An intriguing premise which suffers from a trite and somewhat unsatisfying resolution. Interestingly enough, this is the only episode of X Minus One which re-uses characters from an earlier episode. The same ship's crew appears in the episode 'Courtesy'. Considering the outcomes to both shows, their order should have been reversed. Maybe it's one of those weird time dilation things. Besides, how can you resist getting as much mileage as possible out of a character with a name like 'Bat Ears Brady'? --- Jeff Dickson

Knock

Year: 1955
Duration:
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Fredric Brown

Aliens who have no concept of natural death have wiped out humanity, literally to the last man and woman, whom they put in a zoo as public curiosities.

Versions of this story also appeared on Dimension X, Future Tense, 2000X (not to be confused with 2000 Plus) and Seeing Ear Theatre.

Reviews:
The premise to the episode comes from the world's shortest sci-fi story: "The last man on Earth sits in his room. There's a knock on the door." It's an okay episode, marred mostly by the fact that the Last Man on Earth seems only mildly bemused at the thought of the end of the human race. It's disconcerting to hear him be perky. But otherwise, not a bad episode at all. --- Brad Reed

Last Martian, The

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: 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. Utter nonsense, of course.

Reviews:
It's okay, but nothing great. Like a lot of these stories, it's soaked in paranoia like a pickle in brine. Predictable plot. And yet another episode that makes a reference to "Madison Avenue." Dang, was that lodged in the popular consciousness. --- Brad Reed

Lifeboat Mutiny, The

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Humour / Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Sheckley

Two men planning an expedition across the sea of an alien planet buy a lifeboat from a junk dealer, unaware that said boat is a relic of an ancient alien war. The boat's computer is programmed to protect its occupants at all costs, which is fine if you happen to be a Drome instead of a human being.

Reviews:
Very funny show! I loved the Drome anthem. It demonstrated how absurd and pathetic their predicament was. --- Alex Di Pietro.

A better-than-average, lighthearted episode. The two men trying to outwit the computer weren't dopes, which helped. I hate it when the solution to the story's problem is totally obvious to the listeners but not to the characters. Not the case here. The trap of the ship was well-written. Good stuff. --- Brad Reed

Light, The

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Poul Anderson

The first astronauts to reach the Moon discover the impossible - footprints.

Lights on Precipice Peak, The

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Stephen Tall

Two men determine to find the cause of strange glowing lights emanating from atop a high Wyoming mountain.

Reviews:
[SPOILER --- I was kind of hoping for a little more from this story - specifically, what were the aliens up there for? Just taking a vacation like the hikers? It was a nice touch having one of the hikers who stayed behind be an alien. Was he there to make sure they didn't tell anyone else about them? Anyway, a really simple story; not much to get excited about. --- END SPOILER] --- Barry Howell

Logic Named Joe, A

Year: 1955
Duration:
Genre: Super Science
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Murray Leinster

An enterprising computer company releases a PC capable of answering any question put to it. Unfortunately, some of the questions people want answers to are not ones that members of a civilized society should be asking...

A version of this story was also produced for Dimension X.

Lulu

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Humour / Space Travel
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Clifford D. Simak

Hell hath no fury like a computer spurned... three spacers are saddled with a lovesick ship's computer who is unwilling to return home unless they indulge her romantic inclinations.

Lulungomeena

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Gordon R. Dickson

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. Part of his Dorsai series about a planet that breeds mercenary soldiers.

Reviews:
This is a great story with a clever twist. If you find yourself rooting for the underdog, you'll like this episode. I've read the original short story and I find this radio adaptation to be better. --- C. Phillips

Man in the Moon, The

Year: 1955
Duration:
Genre: undefined
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ernest Kinoy

The Federal Missing Persons Bureau receives a desperate radio message from a crank who claims to be calling from the Moon (unlikely in 1950). Of course the call is dismissed, until a minor functionary begins to suspect that the call is related to a strange series of disappearances over the past several years.

Versions of this story were produced for Dimension X and Future Tense.

Reviews:
Definitely a freaky setup. I found the end to be too telegraphed, but otherwise a pretty good episode. - Brad Reed

Man's Best Friend

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Humour/ Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Evelyn E. Smith

In the 28th century, a reclusive man is chosen by a central computer to assassinate the Overlord and take his place. All of society is egging him on, including the Overlord himself - but the computer has ulterior motives.

See also 'Appointment in Tomorrow' (X Minus One).

Mapmakers, The

aka: "The Map Makers"
Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Frederik Pohl

A deepspace survey ship collides with a meteor during a jump through hyperspace, becoming hopelessly lost. Their navigation system destroyed, they have no way of even determining their own location. Then a crewman blinded in the accident begins to undergo a strange transformation...

See also 'Death Wish' (X Minus One), 'A Fall of Moondust' (BBC or Nightfall), 'Survival' (BBC) and 'Space Wreck' (2000 Plus)

Reviews:
A rollicking good story in the grand tradition of SF; The reasoning behind Grodin's transformation is never fully explained, and therefore the final outcome seems a little trite, but that does not overly detract from what otherwise is perhaps one of the series' best efforts. So often X Minus One utilized the same limited repertoire of sound effects episode to episode for its shipboard noises, but this time there is a greater depth to the layers of sound which, along with scientific details such as interior heat buildup, spinning the ship for gravity, and attitude thruster burns, create a believable experience for the listener. Don't miss this one! --- Jeff Dickson

This is a strange one. In a way, it's a solid achievement in "hard" SF. While the science is make-believe, it has the feel of reality. There are rules to the fantasy, and they are followed scrupulously. The sound effects are very well used, as the Jeff Dickson noted. However, the story was not all that involving. Basically the whole episode was an excuse to trot out the author's idea of how space travel might look. The story, such as it was, felt like an afterthought. The speculative science was very cool, but there's nothing else here. --- Brad Reed

Marionettes, Inc.

aka: "Marionettes, Incorporated"
Episode: 030
Year: 1955
Duration:
Genre: Robots
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ray Bradbury

A husband looking to get away from his wife for a vacation purchases a robot duplicate of himself to take his place. Bad idea...

Versions of this story were made for Dimension X and an independently produced series called Audion Theater. See also 'Child's Play' (Dimension X and X Minus One) and 'Prime Difference' (X Minus One).

Mars Is Heaven!

Episode: 003
Year: 1955
Duration:
Genre: Mars
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ray Bradbury
Awards: SFWA - Hall of Fame, 1970

The first astronauts to land on Mars discover... Earth: a planet where their long-dead loved ones are waiting for them in a small Midwest town just like home. Part of the Martian Chronicles series.

A popular story for radio; Two separate versions were produced for Dimension X. Another version appeared on Escape. See the full listing of Martian Chronicles stories under 'Ray Bradbury' on the Famous Authors on Radio page.

Reviews:
This falls under the heading of an "idiot story." If even one member of the crew stopped to think for a second, the whole thing would fall apart. Which is a pity, since otherwise it's a great story. The captain of the ship is a butthead, in that "I'm the Big Man in Charge, How Dare You Defy Or Question Me" sort of way. Killer idea, good-to-mediocre execution. --- Brad Reed

Probably the most imaginative and original plotting in Bradbury's much acclaimed The Martian Chronicles. Written and performed as a tightly woven gem of a suspense laden horror yarn. A grabber. --- Bruce Fisher

Martian Death March, The

Year: 1955; 1956
Duration:
Genre: Mars
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ernest Kinoy

On a Mars conquered by Earthmen, the few remaining spider-like Martians escape from their reservation and embark on a desperate trek across the deserts to their mountain homelands, lead by a human religious fanatic.

X Minus One produced two separate versions of this story. Also, versions were produced for Dimension X and Future Tense. See also 'And the Moon be Still as Bright' (X Minus One, Omni Audio Experience and Dimension X)

Reviews:
A sad, almost epic saga of a quest for racial equality is very simple, but very powerful and sad, leaving a strong impression on the listener. This is one of the very best radio dramas I have ever heard. A really great show. --- Luc L'Heureux

A thinly-veiled recasting of the plight of American Indians. It's strange to hear this sort of thing in the Fifties, before it was in full vogue. But here it is, in its glory. Decently done. --- Brad Reed

Martian Sam

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Humor
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ernest Kinoy

The losing LA Dodgers bring in a stringer to bolster their chances for a winning season—a Martian with eight arms.

See also 'Open Warfare' (X Minus One)

Merchant of Venus, The

aka: "The Merchants of Venus"
Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: A.H. Phelps

Overcrowding on Earth means colonizing Venus, a steaming, putrid hellhole of jungles and swamps. So how come nobody wants to go there?

See also 'The Space Merchants' (CBS Radio Workshop)

Mr Costello, Hero

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Theodore Sturgeon

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...

Moon Is Green, The

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Fritz Leiber

For years following a nuclear holocaust, a husband bullies his wife to never open the windows of their shelter, for fear of the terrible mutants who live outside. But temptation proves a little too much for her.

An earlier version of this story appeared on Tales of Tomorrow.

Reviews:
Hard to know what to make of this story. [SPOILER --- The wife has been talking to a man who survived the holocaust, who spins for her tales of the beautiful world outside. In the end, the husband finds out and pitches a fit. He confronts the drifter, who eventually admits he's full of crap. The wife leaves the shelter to join the drifter anyway and, presumably, dies horribly in a few days. The wife is a twit, the husband is a pinheaded bully, and the drifter is a manipulative jackass. I suppose it could be considered a deep and moving story, except it isn't. --- END SPOILER] --- Brad Reed

Native Problem, The

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Sheckley

An explorer marooned on a distant planet is ecstatic to witness a ship descending, until he discovers it is an antiquated generation ship filled with an archaic crew who mistake him for a hostile native.

Nightfall

Year: 1955
Duration:
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Isaac Asimov
Awards: SFWA - Hall of Fame, 1970

Classic tale of an alien civilization whose world circles a multiple star system of six suns, and faces worldwide insanity and social collapse when night descends once every several thousand years.

Another version of this story originally aired on Dimension X.

Nightmare

aka: "Nightmare Number Three"
Year: 1955
Duration:
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Stephen Vincent Benét

A man begins to suspect that all machines are on the verge of a unified worldwide revolt to overthrow their human masters.

Another version of this story was produced for Dimension X. See also 'Darling Deadly Dolores' (CBS Radio Mystery Theater).

Reviews:
Could this be The Terminator prequel? Good idea but I was hoping to hear what happens next. --- Barry Howell

Nothing special here. It's too light-hearted to be scary, but too serious to be funny. Plus, it seemed strange that the machines opting to revolt weren't just computers, but basic physical devices, like doorknobs and lighters. The strange silliness of that pulled me out of the story. Bonus points for the mention of ENIAC and vacuum tube "computing machines." --- Brad Reed

No Contact

Year: 1955
Duration:
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ernest Kinoy and George Lefferts

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...

Two separate versions of this story appeared on Dimension X; another version appeared on a 50s series called The Chase.

Reviews:
A chilling story written by future Emmy-award winners Ernest Kinoy and George Lefferts. A terrific performance by Luis van Rooten and a surprise ending make this show one of my all-time favorites. Also, the sound effects are most compelling.- Gregg Kaulfers I found the story boring and trite. Though admittedly, I have a low tolerance for that Look-Out-For-Commie-Spies type of story. And in their efforts for realism, there's a lot of boring dead time in this episode. Countdowns, loud beeping, nonsense like that. Dull, unless you're a fan of very Fifties-style sci-fi. --- Brad Reed

Old Die Rich, The

Year: 1956; 1957
Duration:
Genre: Time Travel
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: H.L. Gold

An unusual number of elderly turn up dead with money stuffed in their pockets, yet having died of starvation. The investigation leads to an unscrupulous woman who is using a time machine to send people back to make fortunes for her.

Versions of this story appeared on Tales of Tomorrow and Future Tense.

Open Warfare

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Humor / Robots
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: James E. Gunn

A champion golfer accepts a challenge to play a round against a robot built and programmed to play a perfect game.

See also 'Martian Sam' (X Minus One).

Reviews:
This was a pretty clever and funny story. I liked how the golf player and his caddy progressed the story through their simple dialogue of watching the game and I especially liked how they figured out what to do to win. Very cool. Highly recommended. Robots in the sixties! Wouldn't that have been cool. --- Barry Howell

Got to say I thought this was one of the most insipid episodes I ever heard. Total waste of time. --- Alex Di Pietro

Dumb. Not insultingly awful, but predictable and not really worth your time. --- Brad Reed

Outer Limit, The

Year: 1955
Duration:
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Graham Doar

A test pilot on an experimental high altitude aircraft with only ten minutes worth of fuel disappears from radar for ten hours, yet returns safely. Of course, it is impossible...

A very popular story with radio producers. Versions also appeared on Escape, Dimension X, Beyond Tomorrow, and two versions for Suspense.

Pail of Air, A

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Fritz Leiber

In a future where the Earth has moved away from the Sun and lost its atmosphere, a lone family of survivors struggle to survive in the ruins of a dead city.

Another version of this story also appeared on Future Tense. See also 'Dwellers in Silence' (X Minus One and Dimension X).

Reviews:
This is the episode that turned me on to X Minus One and still one of my favorites. The story moves along nicely, slowly building suspense. I can remember being a little scared when I first heard it at about midnight in the mid 1980's. I love the father's low-tech solution for creating the family's "nest". --- C. Phillips

Parade, The

Year: 1955; 1956
Duration:
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ernest Kinoy

An ad agency is hired by a man insisting he is from Mars to promote an upcoming parade marking the arrival of Martians on Earth. Of course, he must be lying, or simply crazy...

As well as their own version, X Minus One also re-broadcast the version originally produced for Dimension X. Also a version was produced for Future Tense.

Reviews:
Another big ol' time capsule. Fifties pop culture was obsessed with advertising and "Madison Avenue." It was also obsessed with Martians, Communist infiltration, spies, and Elvis. This episode combines all of that, save for the Elvis. The story unfolds predictably, but the production is impressive. Better written than I expected, but not great. --- Brad Reed

Perigi's Wonderful Dolls

aka: Pyrigi's Wonderful Dolls
Year: 1955; 1956
Duration:
Genre: Super Science
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ernest Kinoy

A dollmaker sells a father an unusual doll which seems capable of responding to people, presumably by recording voices and replaying them in its own voice. Is it just a bit of technical wizardry, or is there something more to this doll than meets the eye?

A version of this story also appeared on Dimension X.

Reviews:
This one really creeped me out at first but quickly took a dive toward absurdity. Although this episode shows a lot of promise, the ending is a little on the cheesy side. The build-up was interesting and suspenseful, but once the plot unfolded I was left a bit disappointed. I'll give it a 3 out of 5. --- Jennifer Morrison

Pictures Don't Lie

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Katherine MacLean

Scientists receive a video signal from an alien spaceship on its way to Earth. Its arrival is imminent, but uninvited - what chance would humanity have if they turned out to be hostile?

This story is suspiciously similar to an episode of Escape called 'The Invader'. Another version appeared on Future Tense.

Reviews:
An okay episode. Really not much to say. I give it a firm "meh." --- Brad Reed

Point of Departure

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Vaughan Shelton

Ancient tablets uncovered in Egypt describe what seem to be blueprints for the construction of a starship drive system.

Prime Difference

Year: 1958
Duration:
Genre: Robots
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Alan E. Nourse

A henpecked husband, fed up with his wife, has an illegal android facsimile of himself made to step into his domestic role so he can have a fling with his secretary.

See also 'Marionettes, Inc.' (Dimension X and X Minus One) and 'Child's Play' (Dimension X and X Minus One).

Project Mastodon

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Time Travel
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Clifford D. Simak

Entrepreneurs appeal the government to award official state recognition to their own personal republic of Mastodonia, 50,000 years in the past. Sounds like a great opportunity to make a fortune, but the past is not all it's cracked up to be...

See also 'A Sound of Thunder' (Bradbury 13, BBC, SF68), and 'A Gun for Dinosaur' (X Minus One).

Project Trojan

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Super Science
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ernest Kinoy

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...

An original story by Ernest Kinoy, based on an idea contained in an editorial in Galaxy Magazine by H.L. Gold.

Protection

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Aliens / Humor
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Sheckley

When a man receives a guardian alien to watch over him, he doesn't realize just how much trouble he is really in for.

A version of this story appeared on Future Tense.

Reviews:
What's this? Science fiction, or Fibber McGee meets the aliens? A comical episode with no real plot. The thing tried to be good, but lost it's way somewhere along it's trip. The only thing I couldn't figure out till the end was, what on earth, or under it is "lesnerizing?" --- Fallen Angel

Protective Mimicry

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Algis Budrys

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...

Real Gone

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Super Science
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ernest Kinoy

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.

A version was done for Future Tense under the title 'Really Heavy'.

Reviews:
Arguably the stupidest episode X Minus One produced. An absolute waste of time. --- Jeff Dickson

Reluctant Heroes, The

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Frank M. Robinson

Team members of a remote base on the Moon serve long tours of duty, and come into conflict over who is next in line to return to Earth.

Reviews:
A gritty study of the human side of space exploration, and what makes some men stand a cut above the crowd. Robinson's heroes don't wear their virtue on their sleeves. They have no grandiose ideas about sacrifice for the betterment of Humanity. Their heroism is buried deep in their psyches, and often needs a bombshell to expose it to the light. The production is appropriately low-key, and the acting very down-to-earth, both of which add to the realism of the episode. Highly recommended. --- Jeff Dickson

Requiem

Year: 1955
Duration:
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert A. Heinlein
Awards: Hugo (retro), 2004

Two grounded astronauts are offered one more chance by an aging tycoon who will stop at nothing to achieve his lifetime dream of setting foot on the Moon.

Versions of this story also appeared on Beyond Tomorrow and Dimension X. See also 'The Vital Factor' (Dimension X and X Minus One).

Roads Must Roll, The

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert A. Heinlein

In the future the country depends on an electro-hydraulic road system which acts as a conveyor belt to transport people and cargo. The system works well, until the engineer's union which maintains the roads stages a strike as a bid to gain power.

Another version of this story originally appeared on Dimension X.

Reviews:
I've always had trouble getting through this episode. I can't listen to it without thinking about 1950's propaganda. Also, the underdog loses because he's got an inferiority complex. I don't need to hear that - I live it! --- C. Phillips

Sam, This Is You

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Humour
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Murray Leinster

A telephone lineman having trouble with his girlfriend receives a phone call from himself in the future, advising him how to turn his life around.

See also 'The Discovery of Morniel Nathaway' (X Minus One), and 'Night Call, Collect' (Bradbury 13).

Saucer of Loneliness

aka: "A Saucer of Loneliness"
Year: 1957; 1957
Duration:
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Theodore Sturgeon

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.

Two separate versions of this story were produced for X Minus One. Other versions were produced for Future Tense, and Mindwebs. It was also produced on the revival series of The Twilight Zone in the mid 80's.

Reviews:
This one almost put me to sleep. Must have been the director's fault, since T. S. is a good writer. --- Alex Di Pietro.

Scapegoat, The

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Richard Maples

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.

Sea Legs

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Frank Quattrocchi

A homesick space jockey returns to an overcrowded, authoritarian Earth whose welcome is little warmer than the cold of space.

Reviews:
I like this episode. I get a little exasperated with the main character because he should have seen it coming, but then I suppose there wouldn't be any story if he had. --- C. Phillips

Sense of Wonder, The

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Milton Lesser

The inhabitants of a generation starship have long ago forgotten their origins and purpose. To them, ' the Ship is All', until one low caste Attendant questions the pseudo-religion which has grown up around the archaic manuals left by the vessel's long dead crew.

See also 'Universe' (X Minus One and Dimension X).

Seventh Order, The

aka: "The 7th Order"
Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Robots
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Jerry Sohl

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?

Reviews:
The robot never even sees it coming, though he has the power to read minds at great distances. It's a very good episode with a clever ending. --- C. Phillips

Seventh Victim, The

aka: "Seventh Victim"
Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Sheckley

In a future which regulates the instinct for violence by staging government-subsidized hunts—in effect making a social institution of murder—there is no place for human compassion. Or is there?

A version was produced for Future Tense. This story was also made into a movie called 'The Tenth Victim'.

Reviews:
The premise is pretty far-fetched, and the acting does not succeed in making it any more believable. Nevertheless, if you have more than your fair share of suspension of disbelief, it is an entertaining ride. Sheckley, like Philip Dick, had a gift for concocting 'out-there' societies and story ideas, and this is certainly one of his most outrageous. Yet beneath the absurdity, one gets the feeling he is trying to say something very serious about human nature, and it is usually something so dark that a bubble gum coating like this is the only way to get the patient to swallow the pill. --- Jeff Dickson

Shanghaied

Year: 1955
Duration:
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ernest Kinoy

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.

Another version of this story originally appeared on Dimension X.

Shock Troop

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Daniel Galouye

A microscopic alien race expands its empire not by conquering worlds, but by waging aggressive campaigns to seize control of individual minds and bodies from within. This is the story for one such war to 'colonize' a human body.

Skulking Permit

Year: 1956; 1957
Duration:
Genre: Humour
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Sheckley

A small colony, cut off from Earth for generations, must prove they are a model of Earth culture when a ship arrives to effect their 'reclamation'. They strive to provide archetypes of Earth society, including a town criminal...

Two separate versions of this story were produced for X Minus One.

Reviews:
Here's an episode I listen to all the time. I grew up in a very small town in the middle of Texas - cut off from the "real" world. So much of this episode reminds me of that place, that I have to laugh. Every town needs a criminal! --- C. Phillips

Snowball Effect, The

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Katherine MacLean

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.

Soldier Boy

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: War/Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Michael Shaara

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.

See also 'Resident Killer' (CBS Radio Mystery Theater).

Something for Nothing

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Time Travel / Humour
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Sheckley

A down-on-his-luck nobody wakes up to find a wishing machine from the future in his room, and an army of service techs ready and willing to see to it that his every desire is fulfilled. Of course, there couldn't be any catch to it all...

Reviews:
Robert Sheckley is the best humorous sci-fi writer ever, as far as I'm concerned. This is one of the best examples of his humor. Although the ending is, perhaps, predictable, it's nonetheless entertaining. --- C. Phillips

Star, Bright

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Mark Clifton

Children are apparently evolving at an alarming rate; what to do when your six-year old daughter demonstrates an IQ of over 400, and starts to experiment with previously unknown physical dimensions?

A version of this story was produced for Future Tense.

Reviews:
A subtle, eerie, and very odd little gem. It's probably one of the series' best shows. The acting, script, and overall feel make this one a Science Fiction classic that can't be missed. --- Luc L'Heureux

Stars Are the Styx, The

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Theodore Sturgeon

At a way station for starbound colonists, a coordinator whose responsibility is to match suitable couples for the long journey, falls in love with one of the prospects himself.

Another version of this story originally aired on Tales of Tomorrow.

Student Body

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: F.L. Wallace

A colony world has problems with alien 'mice', which seem to have the ability to eat virtually anything and use it as raw material to rapidly evolve beyond any measure employed against them.

See also 'Colony', 'Drop Dead' (X Minus One), and 'Here There be Tygers' (Bradbury 13)

Reviews:
A cracking story. Why? Because its not your usual SF fare. In fact it is a mystery story, with an unexpected (and slightly chilling) end. And when the end is revealed... well I won't spoil it, but it reminded me of a lot of contemporary "intelligent" SF (Contact, Close Encounters, Legacy of Heorot etc). Also the plot doesn't rely too much on detailed explanations of technology (I find this often demonstrates the age of SF from the 50's), and where it does, the technology doesn't seem that unbelievable (except maybe for the robot cat - but don't let that put you off!). So. If you get the chance, this is a good one to listen to. --- Marcus Lancaster

Surface Tension

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: James Blish

The world is headed for unavoidable destruction, so a brilliant scientist conceives a microscopic civilization in a drop of water; one day, however, his 'children' must begin to wonder what lies beyond the surface of their cosmos.

Reviews:
Not quite a religious parable, but close to it. Still a thought-provoking storyline that's been explored elsewhere before. And done here as a taut little Sci-Fi melodrama rather then some preachy Christian metaphor. --- Bruce Fisher

Target One

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Time Travel
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Frederik Pohl

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.

There Will Come Soft Rains

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ray Bradbury

An automated house faithfully continues its daily routines after its occupants—and the rest of humanity—have long gone.

The BBC produced 4 versions of this story. Another version appeared on Dimension X.

Time and Time Again

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: War / Time Travel
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: H. Beam Piper

A soldier dying on a battlefield of the future suddenly finds himself transported back to his own childhood.

Another version of this story also appeared on Dimension X. See also "Flashback" (Exploring Tomorrow).

Reviews: I recommend the Dimension X version. The scripts for X Minus One and Dimension X are nearly identical. X Minus One has better sound quality, better delivery by the narrator and better incidental sound effects, but seems rushed. The Dimension X version is 1:30 longer (less advertising) and that goes a long way toward making the dialog seem more natural. Plus the actor playing the 13-year old boy seems more like a young boy in that version. They both have the same good ending, but the Dimension X version seems a little stronger. (8/10) --- zM

To the Future

aka: "The Fox and the Forest"
Year: 1955
Duration:
Genre: Time Travel / War
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ray Bradbury

A couple escape the totalitarian, war-torn world of 2155 for the carefree gaiety of 20th century Acapulco. Unfortunately, however, the government of the future considers them essential for the war effort and cannot allow them to escape. Inevitably, the Seekers are sent to find them...

A version of this story under the same title originally aired on Dimension X, and also as 'The Fox in the Forest' on Bradbury 13.

Trap, The

aka: "Trap"
Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Sheckley (as Finn O'Donnevan)

Two drunken hunters in the woods try out a new trap and end up becoming embroiled in an alien love triangle.

Tsylana

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Future Earth
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: James E. Gunn

In a future society which prizes order and conformity above all else, a statistician is horrified to uncover an act of petty theft. Concerned for the welfare of civilization, he determines to become a petty thief himself in order to catch the subversive sociopath. But to do so requires the aid of a very unorthodox psychoanalyst, who harbors some very serious ulterior motives of his own.

Tunnel under the World

aka: "The Tunnel under the World"
Year: 1956; 1956
Duration:
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Frederik Pohl

Every day seems to be a repeat of June 15, but only one man in the entire city is aware of the anomaly.

Two separate versions of this story were produced for X Minus One. Another version appeared on Future Tense, and more recently on the BBC.

Reviews:
The ending was a shock for me the first time I heard it, but I continue to listen to this episode all the time. There must be something besides the ending that keeps me listening. --- C. Phillips

One of the better X Minus One episodes, this story perfectly encapsulates author Frederik Pohl's (near prophetic) fear of a too-powerful corporate America. "It was the morning of June 15 and Guy Burkhart woke up screaming..." Note: This episode was aired twice on X Minus One, the second with a different cast and slightly different script and sub-par (especially for X Minus One) production values. --- Brendan

Creatively, the best episode of this landmark series bar none. Excellent organic storyline loaded with intriguing plot twists and a surprise ending that would even surprise Rod Serling. Excoriations against the ad world are however ridiculous, but work beautifully as classically satirical anti-big business paranoia of the straight out-of-left-field, far left. --- Bruce Fisher

This is the single old time radio episode that most stuck in my brain after hearing it - I originally heard it when I was 9 years old or so and thought it was terrifying! The premise - that the main character keeps re-living the same day, and no one else realizes that the day keeps repeating - is clever, and chilling when you start to find out why this is happening. There are some clear plot holes that detract a bit from the show, but overall a good, fun episode. --- Raj Ghoshal

Universe

Year: 1955
Duration:
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert A. Heinlein
Awards: SFWA - Hall of Fame, 1970

Humanity's descendants aboard a space Ark are divided into two factions - the lower decks occupied by humans, and the upper by mutants. One man dares probe the upper levels and his quest leads him to question not only his society's prejudices, but the ultimate truth of what might lie beyond the Ship.

Another version of this story originally appeared on Dimension X. See also 'The Sense of Wonder' (X Minus One).

Veldt, The

Year: 1955
Duration:
Genre: undefined
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ray Bradbury

A couple purchase a holo-theatre to keep their son and daughter amused, but the recreation of the sweltering African savannah the children concoct is anything but amusing...

See also 'The House on Chimney Pot Lane' (CBS Radio Mystery Theater).

One of Bradbury's most popular stories. Versions appeared on BBC, Bradbury 13, CBC Playhouse, Dimension X, Mindwebs, and X Minus One

Venus Is a Man's World

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: William Tenn

A gender schism among interplanetary pioneers aboard a colony ship to Venus.

A version of this story was produced for Future Tense.

Vital Factor, The

aka: "Vital Factor"
Year: 1955
Duration:
Genre: Space Exploration
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Nelson S. Bond

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.

Another version of this story originally appeared on Dimension X. Yet another was produced for television on the program Tales of Tomorrow, with Lee J. Cobb as Crowder.

See also 'Requiem' (Dimension X and X Minus One).

Reviews:
This well done episode is one of my favorites. A bully gets outsmarted, which goes to show that money can't buy brains. Perfect! --- C. Phillips

Volpla

Year: 1957
Duration:
Genre: Super Science
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Wyman Guin

A scientist creates a race of intelligent flying creatures that soon get out of hand.

Reviews:
I tend to like the more humorously eccentric characters in Sci-Fi stories and the shortsighted genius in this episode is no exception. In a certain way, it reminds me of the movie "Young Frankenstein" - the mad scientist has the ability to create life, but all he can think of to do with his gift is go into show business. This character just wants to play a joke on the world. I love it! --- C. Phillips

Wherever You May Be

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Occult
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: James E. Gunn

A new twist on the traveling salesman/farmer's daughter shtick; this time the country girl has an ace up her sleeve... witchcraft.

Wind Is Rising, A

Year: 1957
Duration: 20 min
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Robert Sheckley (as Finn O'Donnevan)

Two men stationed on an alien world scoured by tornadic winds ignore the counsel of the spidery natives and brave the weather to reach a damaged water main. After all, the wind outside is only blowing at about 150 mph... and rising.

Reviews:
A short, quick, suspenseful tale with a good ending. There is a thread of blatant xenophobia that winds its way through the story and generates a feeling of sympathy for the native Karellans... and a yearning for justice. Not that I want anything bad to happen to the humans... I just want the Karellans to get their due. [8/10] --- zM

Zero Hour

Year: 1956
Duration:
Genre: Aliens
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Ray Bradbury

Suddenly, children from all over the country are playing a new game called Invasion, with Zero Hour set for 5:00 PM, today. How charming. How droll. Or is it really just a game?

Versions of this story also appeared on Future Tense, Adventure Theater, Suspense (3 versions), Dimension X, The Mysterious Traveler, and Escape.


Divider
Rant. X Minus One was an amazing series with solid acting, writing that could be poignant or humorous as needed, fully-developed story-lines, and engaging sound effects. There were some poor episodes, to be sure, but many of the episodes were very, very good. Although the series showcased some of the best that Old Time Radio had to offer, it also illustrates how the networks destroyed the medium they sought to profit from. An essential element of storytelling is the suspension of disbelief. The storyteller draws the listener in, one step at a time, until the listener is actually inside the story. Breaking away from the narrative... for a commercial... breaks the story. As television started to gain market share, the only viable option for radio drama was to reaffirm the storytelling experience by abandoning commercial interruptions. Instead, radio executives did the opposite and expanded the intrusion of commercials... breaking the stories into smaller and smaller pieces until hardly anything was left.

X Minus One is an example of this. One of the earliest original X Minus One broadcasts was one of its best: "A Gun for Dinosaur". Strip it of the opening and closing credits and you are left with 26 minutes for continuous storytelling. Compare this with one of the last X Minus One broadcasts: "Grey Flannel Armor". Stripped of the opening, closing, and commercial break, we are left with 15 min for storytelling... and that was broken up by the commercial break! The result was stories that were one-dimensional, with no suspense, no character development, and very little conflict. You may as well be watching TV. End of Rant

Divider