Sturgeon! Dick! Asimov! Heinlein! DeCamp! Bradbury! Sheckley! Pohl!
June 12, 2013 1:16 PM   Subscribe

The very first major science fiction series for adults on radio was Mutual Broadcasting System's 2000 Plus (1950-1952). An anthology program, 2000 Plus used all new material rather than adapting published stories. Just one month after its premiere, NBC Radio began airing Dimension X (1950-1951), which dramatized the written work of such young writers as Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Kurt Vonnegut. In 1955, NBC relaunched Dimension X as X Minus One (1955-1958), drawing from stories that had been published in the two most popular science fiction magazines at the time: Astounding and Galaxy. 17 of 30 episodes of 2000 Plus, all 50 episodes of Dimension X, and all 125 episodes of X Minus One are available for free download as individual mp3s from the Internet Archive.

The shows are also available in free zip file compilations:

Direct link to zip file: 2000 Plus
Download pages: Dimension X and X Minus One.
posted by zarq (23 comments total) 104 users marked this as a favorite
God, I love old-time radio. Fantastic post.
posted by jbickers at 1:19 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I should note for accuracy's sake that X Minus One reused 15 scripts from Dimension X when it first began, but they also aired some original, non-adapted scifi scripts from NBC staff writers George Lefferts and Ernest Kinoy.

Also, the first 13 episodes of Dimension X were broadcast live. The rest of the show was taped. And Wikipedia has an ad for the show!
posted by zarq at 1:24 PM on June 12, 2013

Can anyone recommend standout episodes? There are a lot of them.
posted by wittgenstein at 1:28 PM on June 12, 2013

A trove, but I wish they had the authors' names on the file listings. There are some writers whose stories I'd be more interested in than others. I can't believe with all the work someone put into this it didn't occur to them.
posted by aught at 1:32 PM on June 12, 2013

wittgenstein: "Can anyone recommend standout episodes?"

Haven't played them all yet, but these are ones I liked:

Dimension X:
#10 The Green Hills of Earth - Heinlein
#14 Mars is Heaven - Bradbury
#20 The Martian Chronicles - Bradbury
#22 The Roads Must Roll - Heinlein
#31 Universe - Heinlein
#37 Pebble in the Sky - Asimov
#50 Nightfall - Asimov

X Minus One:
#78 There Will Come Soft Rains - Bradbury
#126 The Iron Chancellor - Silverberg
posted by zarq at 1:36 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Sorry. I didn't think to include the author names. Wikipedia lists them for the two NBC shows:

* Dimension X
* X Minus One

You can see a few author names for the 2000 Plus episodes here.

Sorry to flood the thread. I'll shut up now! :)
posted by zarq at 1:40 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

My childhood favorite, and still a favorite, is #44 — A Pail of Air.
posted by sonascope at 1:42 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]

Dimension X - "A Logic Named Joe" was an episode I remember particularly enjoying, as well as "The Parade". "There Will Come Soft Rains / Zero Hour" contains a neat short story by Bradbury that I thought nicely describes the loneliness of the end of the world.

X Minus One - "Cold Equations" was interesting. "A Thousand Dollars a Plate", "Project Trojan", and "Skulking Permit" were some of the more lighthearted episodes that I think X Minus One was good at!
posted by Nutri-Matic Drinks Synthesizer at 1:44 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Pail of Air is great, There Will Come Soft Rains is great, The Veldt is good, Mr Costello, Hero also nice... You know what, just listen to them all. Really. They're amazing and many of them stand on their own, decades later.
posted by boo_radley at 1:45 PM on June 12, 2013

oh, Marionette, Inc is also super good.
posted by boo_radley at 1:46 PM on June 12, 2013

Relic Radio has a weekly scifi-themed podcast where they play a lot of these episodes, for those who don't want a massive download. iTunes link
posted by PlusDistance at 1:48 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

You can play them on too.

Yeah, I listen to too much old timey radio.
posted by Seamus at 1:50 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

A similar show available on is Vanishing Point, a CBC radio show from the 80's. Once again no authors, but I know #94-102 are J.G. Ballard stories.
posted by catastropher at 2:03 PM on June 12, 2013 [7 favorites]

And if your tastes run to classic horror/ supernatural try The Weird Circle.
posted by boo_radley at 2:10 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Dear LORD! Vanishing Point did Le Guin's "The Dispossessed in 5 or 6 parts.
How could I have missed that?
posted by Seamus at 3:05 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Robert Sheckley is brilliant and hilarious. I can't recommend him highly enough, he was the PG Wodehouse of 60's scifi.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:12 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I needed some new bedtime listening!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:17 PM on June 12, 2013

Thanks for this!
posted by Smedleyman at 3:33 PM on June 12, 2013

This is just wonderful!
posted by graxe at 3:55 PM on June 12, 2013

So cool!
posted by Kevin Street at 5:41 PM on June 12, 2013

I'm sorry to "me too" this post, but hell yeah, "Me, too!" I discovered X-Minus One and Dimension X about 10 years ago. I bought an MP3 CD (remember those?) from a guy for $5 and it was worth multiples of that amount. What is most fun is hearing the obsessions and fascinations of the 1950's. Aliens were really a proxy for Communist Russian invaders (e.g., "The Embassy"). Scientific advancement was a reflection of the benefits of post-War mass consumerism (example, "The Iron Chancellor"). And some stories were just creepy weird (listen to "Dr. Grimshaw's Sanitarium").

Besides the excellent writing, there is the richness of the lost art of radio drama which can fill your mind with detail better than any TV show can.
posted by Cataline at 8:27 PM on June 12, 2013

I loved thaws shows. When my family lived in Mexico, we did not have a TV. My parents did not want us forgetting English. So my younger sister and I were allowed to listen to radio shows at night, which were in English. Lots of Sci-Fi and crime dramas. It was not 100% successful.
I did not speak English on entering school in Texas. I learned my English from Rocky and Bullwinkle.
Seriously, as a person with low vision most of my life, I really preferred radio. TV puts me to sleep even if I actually wanted to see the show and am enjoying it.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 10:58 PM on June 12, 2013

I stumbled on this treasure trove googling for The Roads Must Roll.

Great FPP.
posted by DigDoug at 6:41 AM on June 13, 2013

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