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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Audible Book Reviews: Three X Minus One #VintageSciFi Stories

These are wonderful short stories of imagination and irony!

(Applicable to all three stories.)
Publisher's Summary
X Minus One premiered in April 1955 on NBC and ran until January 1958. Like its predecessor series, Dimension X, X Minus One featured stories by the greatest names in modern science fiction: Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Clifford Simak, Robert Bloch, and many more.
Public Domain (P)2012 BN Publishing

“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 in a thousand maybe worlds.”

X Minus One: Cold Equations (August 25, 1955)
Written by: Tom Godwin, George Lefferts - adaptation
Narrated by: Fred Collins
Length: 23 mins
Radio/TV Program
Release Date:05-22-15
Publisher: BN Publishing

My Rating: 4.5 of 5.0

Barton is a pilot of an EDS, Emergency Dispatch Ship. These are specialized rescue units used to make the emergency trips when and where no one else can. Barton has been assigned to deliver life-saving serum to a work force of 16 men who have already become ill. Time is of the essence and the trip is planned with precise detail to make the mission successful.

As his ship settles into its journey Barton notices an unexpected heat signature. He discovers a stow-away who turns out to be the lovely wife of one of the men on the planet. The couple have been apart for a number of years and she snuck on board to make a surprise visit. How can Barton handle this when the trip doesn’t factor in another person?

This is a wonderfully engaging and ironic, if sad, short story. I saw the dilemma and appreciated Barton’s compassion. The solutions are limited. I held my breath a bit as I waited to see what would happen.

X Minus One: Protective Mimicry (October 3, 1956)
Written by: Algis Budrys, Ernest Kinoy - adaptation
Narrated by: Fred Collins
Length: 29 mins
Radio/TV Program
Release Date:05-27-15
Publisher: BN Publishing

My Rating: 4.25 of 5.0

One Protective Mimicry finds us with Bamhoser, a special agent in "United Galactic Federation Department of Treasury, Investigation Division, Currency Section". Bamhoser has to track down a counterfeiter who is believed to have created a matter duplicator. His investigation takes him deep into the jungles of a humid, alien world where primitive natives live without sophisticated machinery. The counterfeiter captures Bamhoser and, in his arrogance, the thief explains his methods. When Bamhoser’s companions arrive and a battle breaks out, an unexpected event wins the day for the good guys.

Again the story is quick and I had to laugh at the ironic ending. There is some fun, 50’s appropriate views of women and repartee among the characters. The descriptions are well done, putting the reader in the stifling jungle, including a character blood-sucking bug.

X Minus One: Target One (December 26, 1957)
Written by: Frederik Pohl, George Lefferts - adaptation
Narrated by: Fred Collins
Length: 20 mins
Radio/TV Program
Release Date: 05-28-15
Publisher: BN Publishing

My Rating: 4.25 of 5.0

This story takes place in a future world where the humans have been all but extinguished with the devastation and destruction caused by atomic war in 1960. The current society, even thirty years later, is suffering from the fall out, with birth deformities and mutations. The world council president believes that drastic steps must be taken to save humanity. Secretly a time machine has been developed and a plan is put into place to send a scientist who understands the problem back to assassinate the original source of the problem.

The question is: can eliminating one man really stop scientific progress and prevent the knowledge and development the future leaders most fear? When Dr. Maron returns to his own time, ninety years in ahead, what world will await him?

There is always a twist when it comes to time travel and this is no exception. Time travel to assassin someone in the past never quite comes out as expected. After all - how do you kill an idea? Once again, the quick story has an ironic end.

(Image and Plot Archives found at this site.)

I love how each of these stories are engaging, quick and ironic. The other thing I noted is that I can identify themes in these stories in contemporary stories I have read over the past year or so. It makes me wonder: how much of what we read now draws upon the authors of the past?

Audio Notes: These are presented as NBC broadcasts with some audio effects. I could imagine sitting by a radio in the 1950s to listen to these wonderful episodes. This is great entertainment for under $1.00 per selection!

I selected these three short audios for Vintage Sci Fi reading. They also begin my 2016 Audiobook Challenge and X on the Alphabet Soup Challenge! This is also my 2016 First Book of the Year


  1. This is interesting. I like how you're seeing themes that are still relevant today. One might not expect that from 50's era sci fi, but I think that's neat.

    I'm hoping to get some posts up for Vintage SciFi Month.

    1. Greg- I was (pleasantly) surprised. But last year I reviewed a book about multiple clone detectives, and another book about time travel assassins. So it looks like authors in the 50's had the ideas first. :-)

  2. These are some interesting reviews, I might just check these stories out.


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