Just as with the Horror Genre, Radio is a superior medium for Science Fiction than TV or Movies. It is not a medium for the lazy Sci Fi fan: the producer couldn't call in the CGI (computer generated image) team and have them created an exploding space cruiser. But for the fan willing to lose himself in his imagination, Radio could make the loneliness of space that much deeper, the burning sands of a distant planet that much bleaker, and the evil of a rogue robot that much more frightening.
One of the best Science fiction Anthologies on radio was X Minus One. What made the series great was the stories, which were adapted from the pages of Galaxy Magazine, and later Astounding Science Fiction Magazine. Galaxy had become the leading Science Fiction publisher in the 50's by publishing stories that dealt with social issues and not just technology and monsters.
The stories were adapted for radio by NBC staff writers, mostly Ernest Kinoy and Frank Lefferts, who were usually respectful enough of the material to change it as little as possible while adapting it for the half hour radio format. Some of Sci Fi's all-time great authors were featured, including Frederik Pohl, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Theodore Sturgeon, and Ray Bradbury.
Some of our favorite episodes include the following:
X Minus One: The Cave of Night by James Gunn; A Spaceman's craft is hopelessly damaged, and the whole world waits breathlessly as a rescue is organized. "The Cave of Night" anticipates the drama of Apollo 13, as well as the tragedy of the Challenger shuttle disaster.
X Minus One: C-Chute by Isaac Asimov; A civilian space transport is hijacked by chlorine breathing enemy aliens. The human passengers become POWs and argue about how to react to their situation. A mild mannered bookkeeper finds the courage to exit the craft via the C-Chute, normally used to lauch corpses into space, then reenter to defeat the enemy hijackers.
X Minus One: Sam, This is You by Murray Leinster; A telephone repair man has a quiet life, except for trouble with his girl friend, until he receives a call; "Sam, this is you..." It is himself one week in the future calling to tell him how to turn his life around.
X Minus One: Honeymoon in Hell by Fredric Brown; Along with the treat of Atomic War, there is a decline in the male birth rate. The solution seems to be sending a man from our side and a woman from their side to the moon in order to conceive a son.
X Minus One: Something for Nothing by Robert Sheckley; A Class A Utilizer suddenly appears in Joe Collins' tenement apartment. The Utilizer is a Wishing Machine from the future, and Joe goes a little crazy, having a mansion built in a day in upstate NY, and then a palace in South America, before discovering that there really is no free meal ticket.
X Minus One: The Discovery of Mornial Mathaway by William Tenn; A Time Traveler goes to the past to find the greatest artist in history, only to discover that he has no talent. He is almost as surprised as the artist, who discovers his work will be considered great.
X Minus One: Man's Best Friend by Evelyn Smith; The Prognosticating Computer chooses a man to assassinate the Overlord, and everyone is excited for him, even the Overlord! Yet he has trouble accepting the unreality of it. Until he makes it appear that he goes through with in, and makes an amazing discovery.