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Radio / Dimension X

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"Adventures in time and space, told in future tense! Dimension X!"

Broadcast on NBC from 1950–1951, Dimension X was among the first science fiction radio shows aimed at adults. The weekly half-hour series featured stories adapted from some of the top science fiction writers of the day, and many of its episodes were later recycled by its better known successor, X Minus One.

The entire series survives today in digital form, and can be downloaded from The Internet Archive.

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This series provides examples of

  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: In the short story "Time and Time Again" by H. Beam Piper, the transfer of the 43-year-old Allan Hartley's mind into his 13-year-old self's body in 1945 is seemingly permanent. In the radio adaptation, the process reverses after only a few hours and the older Allan dies in both body and mind in 1975. As such, the radio version leaves it ambiguous as to whether his father Blake will succeed in being elected President in 1960 and preventing the outbreak of World War III. While he only has a vague impression of the events that the next 30 years will bring, he is determined to save his son's life. Blake also has the list of the race winners up to 1970 that Allan gave him before his mind returned to the future so he can still raise the necessary capital.
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  • Adapted Out: "Time and Time Again" omits the Hartleys' German housekeeper Mrs. Stauber from the short story.
  • Artificial Family Member: In "Dwellers in Silence", Dr. Cornelius Hathaway created robot copies of his deceased wife Alice and children Susan, Marguerite and John to combat his terrible loneliness after they were killed in the Earth Wars.
  • Blind Musician: In "The Green Hills of Earth", the jetman and guitarist Rhysling is blinded during an accident in the power room of his ship. His optic nerve is burned out by radiation from the jets. Over the next 30 years, he becomes known as the Blind Singer of the Spaceways.
  • Chromosome Casting: No women appear in "Courtesy".
  • City in a Bottle: In "Universe", it is generally believed that the Ship, which is 25 kilometers wide and has 100 levels, is the sum total of the universe. Even asking what is beyond the Ship is considered heresy and typically leads to the culprit being fed into the converter.
  • Colonized Solar System:
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    • In "Kaleidoscope", there are colonies on the Moon, Venus and Jupiter.
    • In "Dwellers in Silence", the survivors of the Earth Wars established a settlement on Mars.
    • In "The Green Hills of Earth", the entire Solar System has been colonized with major settlements on the Moon, Mars and Venus.
  • Earth That Used to Be Better: In "Dwellers in Silence", Earth was rendered a radioactive wasteland by the devastating fallout from the Earth Wars in 1987, leading the survivors to evacuate the planet and establish a colony on Mars.
  • Fantastic Nuke: In "To the Future", William Travis was working on a new and highly advanced atomic / bacteria bomb in 2155 before he and his wife Susan traveled back in time to 1950.
  • Fantastic Slur:
    • In "Universe", the residents of the Lower Levels of the Ship refer to the Mutants who live on the Upper Levels as "Muties."
    • In "Courtesy", Bat Ears Brady continually refers to the Landro natives as "Gimpoes."
  • Generation Ships: In "Universe", a generation ship was constructed in its own orbit beyond the Moon over the course of 60 years. It was launched on a mission to colonize Centaurus but a mutiny led by Huff resulted in the ship going off course.
  • Genre Anthology: Dimension X was a science fiction radio anthology series.
  • Homeworld Evacuation: In "Dwellers in Silence", Earth was evacuated on June 18, 1987 in the aftermath of the Earth Wars. By this time, the radioactive dust cloud had already encompassed New York City and was heading west. The comparatively few survivors settled on Mars.
  • Indentured Servitude: In "The Green Hills of Earth", Rhysling first performs the titular song for indentured men in a Venusian labor camp.
  • Legend Fades to Myth: In "Universe", a scientist named Jordan created a generation ship which was intended to colonize the distant planet Centaurus. Forty years after it was launched from the Solar System, a man named Huff led a mutiny aboard the Ship as he and his followers believed that they should return to Earth. In the fighting, the navigators were killed. All attempts to put the Ship back on its proper course failed and it began moving aimlessly through the universe. Over the course of many thousands of years, the inhabitants of the Ship came to believe that Jordan was a god who created both them and the Ship, which is the sum total of the universe. They regard Centaurus as the afterlife where they go once they are fed into the converter.
  • Let X Be the Unknown/"X" Makes Anything Cool
  • The Morlocks: Subverted in "Universe". The Mutants are regarded as being primitive creatures who are little more sophisticated than animals by the so-called superior race that resides on the Lower Levels of the Ship. As their leader Gregory informs Hugh Hoyland, most of them are every bit as intelligent as he is in spite of their physical deformities.
  • Mutants: In "Universe", a race of Mutants lives on the Upper Levels of the Ship. Those on the Lower Levels fear and despise them because of their deformities. For instance, their leader Gregory has a malformed leg and Bobo has been mute since birth. The Mutants are believed to be descended from the followers of the mutineer Huff, the most hated name in their mythology as he opposed their god Jordan. It is unclear whether or not this is true.
  • New Neo City: In "The Green Hills of Earth", the city of New Shanghai is located somewhere in the Solar System.
  • Oh My Gods!: In "Universe", Alan Mahony and Hugh Hoyland both swear "For Jordan's sake!" Hoyland also says "Ghost of Jordan!"
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: In "Courtesy", Bat Ears Brady's first name is never revealed.
  • Oral Tradition: In "Universe", John the Witness is the latest in a long line of witnesses who have been passing on the story of the creation of the Ship by the god Jordan for thousands of years. However, the story has become increasingly distorted over the millennia and bears only a slight resemblance to the actual events of their distant past.
  • Power Echoes: In the Title Sequence. "Dimension X!... X!... X!..."
  • Precursors: In "The Lost Race", the titular species are an ancient race who constructed the canals on Mars and the ruined cities on Titan and Centaurus II and III 100,000 years ago. Their influence extended to more than 1,000 planets before they mysteriously destroyed themselves. The archaeologist Mr. Howell determines that the Lost Race were a race of highly evolved monkeys who were being slowly mutated by atomic energy. He concludes that they committed mass suicide as they could not stand the idea of turning into human-like creatures.
  • Sole Survivor:
    • In "Mars is Heaven", Dr. Horst was the only member of his family to survive The Holocaust. When he was a child, all of his relatives were gassed in Dachau.
    • In "Dwellers in Silence", Dr. Cornelius Hathaway is the only surviving human on Earth in 2007 as all other survivors of the Earth Wars settled on Mars 20 years earlier. Hathaway managed to survive as he was in his lead-lined laboratory in the Sierra Mountains when the radioactive dust cloud enveloped the United States.
  • The Speechless: In "Universe", the mutant Bobo was born without the power of speech.
  • Spiritual Successor: X Minus One, which ran on NBC from 1955-1958, featuring many of the same cast members and reusing many of the same scripts.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future:
    • In "Mars is Heaven", the United States vessel XR-53 became the first Earth ship to land on Mars on April 20, 1987.
    • In "Courtesy", humanity has colonized numerous planets, including Landro, by 1997.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: In "Mars is Heaven", the Martians are a race of shapeshifters who assumed the forms of the deceased relatives of the crew of the XR-53 in order to make them think that Mars is Heaven and lull them into a false sense of security.
  • World War III: In "To the Future", a devastating atomic / bacteriological war is being waged in 2155. William Travis says that half the world is dead and the other half is dying.

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