Long before Rod Serling
created The Twilight Zone
, probably the best science fiction and fantasy program made, there was X Minus One
, the radio drama which ran during 1955-1958 on the NBC radio network. Using material supplied by the two major science fiction magazines of the day, Astounding Science Fiction
and later Galaxy
, the show produced a weekly radio drama involving science fiction, aimed at adults. (One of the program's sponsors was Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.)
As noted on The Other Wiki
, the show opened with the same teaser:
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.
Later they would use Galaxy
in place of Astounding
. Some openings did not include the word 'transcribed'.
Each week, a new story, taken from either Astounding or Galaxy, was performed as a radio drama (or comedy) in which the material was played straight for an adult audience, as opposed to typical 1950s science fiction (especially science fiction movies or TV shows) which either trivialized this type of story (as in the case of most "bug eyed monster" style low-budget "earth is being invaded by monsters (or) Martians
" films) or targeted it for juveniles (e.g., Captain Video
For its time, the show was somewhat groundbreaking in that it covered science fiction as serious fiction directed to adults. Story lines included characters with gambling and addiction problems, criminal tendencies, and even one case where a space ship piloted by a computer with a female personality, was being "made love to" by its "robot boyfriend."
MP3s of the show can be downloaded for free from the Internet Archive http://www.archive.org/details/XMinus1_A
, or can be purchased on CD for $10 for the low quality set or $25 for the high-quality set from the "official" http://www.xminusone.com/text/showlist.htm
website, it claims to include all 195 episodes.
The various episodes of the series supply examples of
- Double Don't Know: One episode had the character using this trope
- Downer Ending: Many of the shows ended up with a bad result for the protagonist.
- Genre Anthology
- Recycled Script: Over a dozen scripts from a previous sci-fi radio series, Dimension X, were reused on X Minus One.
- Spiritual Successor: X Minus One is this to Dimension X, which aired on NBC radio from 1950–1951.
- Worthless Yellow Rocks: A protagonist got mixed up in a time-traveling get-rick-quick scheme by going to the past and investing in stocks that would rise and property loaded with a type of mineral that the seller told him had interesting scientific qualities but was basically worthless—uranium.