X Minus One

  • by Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, Robert A. Heinlein, Frederik Pohl, Theodore Sturgeon, Isaac Asimov, Ernest Kinoy, George Lefferts
  • Narrated by Old Time Radio
  • 20 hrs and 5 mins
  • Radio/TV Program

Publisher's Summary

X Minus One was a half-hour science fiction radio series broadcast from April 24, 1955 to January 9, 1958, in various timeslots on NBC. Initially a revival of NBC's Dimension X (1950-51), X Minus One is widely considered among the finest science fiction dramas ever produced for radio. The first 15 episodes were new versions of Dimension X episodes, but the remainder were adaptations by NBC staff writers, including Ernest Kinoy and George Lefferts, of newly published science fiction stories by leading writers in the field, including Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, Robert A. Heinlein, Frederik Pohl, and Theodore Sturgeon, along with some original scripts by Kinoy and Lefferts.
Episodes of the show include adaptations of Robert Sheckley's "Skulking Permit", Bradbury's "Mars Is Heaven", Heinlein's "Universe" and "The Green Hills of Earth", Pohl's "The Tunnel Under the World", J. T. McIntosh's "Hallucination Orbit", Fritz Leiber's "A Pail of Air", and George Lefferts' "The Parade".
The program opened with announcer Fred Collins delivering the countdown, leading into this introduction (although later shows were partnered with Galaxy Science Fiction rather than Astounding Science Fiction):
"Countdown for blastoff.... X minus five, four, three, two, X minus one.... Fire!" [Rocket launch SFX] "From the far horizons of the unknown come transcribed tales of new dimensions in time and space. These are stories of the future; adventures in which you'll live in a million could-be years on a thousand may-be worlds. The National Broadcasting Company, in cooperation with Street and Smith, publishers of Astounding Science Fiction presents...X Minus One.

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What the Critics Say

"'X Minus One' hatches a new fictional universe with each episode. The series is united, however, by a consistent auditory aesthetic. It is rich with quavering theremins and faint, crackling radio transmissions. Heroes speak in plain voices while villains dither in mid-Atlantic accents. Robots and aliens, equally unreal at the time, sound and act tellingly alike. Horns blare and strings scream. Silence is employed liberally. The aesthetic is convincing and total, and it flatters the show's content. It lulls you through the most regressive episodes and intensifies the best. In 2015, it is twice transporting, from now to then and back again." (John Herrman, New York Times Magazine)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Splendid stuff from the Golden Age

The Golden Age of sci-fi (1940s, 50s and 60s) was a wonderful period. These stories mostly illustrate it beautifully. This download is wonderful value - over forty half hour dramatisations of science fiction stories from the period.

Many of the stories are by famous writers - Ray Bardbury, Robert Bloch, et al, but some are not well-known but still memorable.

The best thing about these stories is how they are very much of their time, filled with the uncertainty associated with the '50s: spy scandals, McCarthyism, the growing cold war and the fear of nuclear disaster. The inherent psychological fear is beautifully portrayed in most of these short radio plays. There's a real feeling of paranoia running through them all.

On the whole, apart from one or two which are simply Westerns in space, the majority of these stories are a wonderful snapshot of the best of sci-fi at the very worst of times.
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- Angela

Fabulous listening from Amazing Stories

Would you consider the audio edition of X Minus One to be better than the print version?

Largely much better although these are radio dramatisations of classic science fiction stories. What is lovely is that when these were recorded they weren't classics-and some of the stories and authors on the audiobook are new to me.


What was one of the most memorable moments of X Minus One?

I have always loved 'The Green Hills Of Earth" by Robert Heinlein and the audio did it justice.


What about Old Time Radio’s performance did you like?

Everything-and adding the little bits about baseball games next week etc made me feel much more as if I was back in the 50s-couldn't have been given my age!


Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Several of the stories do that short story 'thing' of leaving a miserable upsetting ending and unresolved problems. Given the Cold War at the time it seems fair enough.


Any additional comments?

I bought this from pure nostalgia. I have early print editions of several of the stories, not because of collecting but as they were at home since my father had bought them new and can't throw books out. I enjoyed them immensely and the very long school runs/commutes became bearable. It felt as if I was in 1950s America waiting for the radio. There are some repeats which seems to reflect laziness in compilation. I listen to them in the car and fast forwarding 25 minutes using the hands free controls is not feasible, so I listened to some twice. Unfortunately they weren't the particularly good ones. Overall though if there were a volume 2 I would willingly buy it despite minor gripes.

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- Alison

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-02-2013
  • Publisher: BN Publishing