The X Factor


In a time when the sweeping magnitude of a TV show or movie may have been shackled by budget constraints, the mind’s eye knew no such limits in the Golden Age of radio. While it may be argued that the likes of Doctor Who across the pond about a decade later were no less popular for having aliens made of cardboard than if it had been made with top of the line special effects of the time, storytellers must have preferred to preserve the awesome scale of their alien invasions, the intricacies of the technologies they envisioned, and the intimate individual relationship each story has in the imagination of each listener. All that’s needed is a skilled writer, a well placed sound effect or two, and effective narrative exposition.

dimensionxTwo of our favorite science fiction radio shows are Dimension X and its follow-up series X Minus One (both of which were preceded by 2000 Plus). Dimension X’s scripts were mostly adapted from short stories penned by the likes of Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Kurt Vonnegut and Robert Bloch. While some of the episodes can elicit a chuckle (“In the distant 1980’s, when humans have colonized distant worlds” kind of stuff), the stories and themes can withstand quite the critical eye (or ear!) in terms of depth and quality.


X Minus One radio programX Minus One went on to revisit many of the same scripts as Dimension X, as well as including storiess by Philip K. Dick and NBC writers Ernest Kinoy and George Lefferts, who not only adapted the works of the other popular science fiction writers of the time but created original scripts of their own too. Along with tales of alien encounters, the episodes tell of humanity’s fears, aspirations, and folly.

To fully appreciate the science fiction of today, it pays to take a step back in time and enjoy the works that would bridge the gap between the printed page and the screens of today.

“Countdown for blastoff… X minus five, four, three, two, X minus one!”


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One Response to “The X Factor

  • I used to listen to a radio station in the 80’s that played x minus one. I had forgotten all about it.

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