Saturday, November 19, 2016

“Countdown for blast-off…”

Howdy, cartooners!  As promised, it’s your old pal Uncle Ivan—here again to dig some goodies out of the Thrilling Days of Yesteryear prize closet and offer up members-in-good-standing of the TDOY faithful the opportunity to win some fantabulous old-time radio swag.  This week, I’m offering up “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 on a thousand may-be worlds!”


The history of science fiction during Radio’s Golden Age is uncomfortably lukewarm at best; sci-fi was mostly the purview of kiddie adventure shows like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, with the occasional presentation on horror series like Lights Out and Quiet, Please.  (There was an attempt to tackle the genre in 1941 with NBC’s short-lived Latitude Zero—but until that time, the most famous science-fiction broadcast was Orson Welles’ notorious production of “The War of the Worlds” in 1938.)  The box office success of Destination Moon in 1950 generated new interest in the sci-fi genre, and NBC tried to capitalize on this with Dimension X, which premiered over the network on April 8, 1950.

The minds behind Dimension X did their best to do right by the science-fiction genre; the key was presenting adaptations of stories that had originally been published in the pages of Astounding Science Fiction.  Works by such legendary authors as Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and Robert Heinlein provided the grist for scripts written by Ernest Kinoy and George Lefferts.  The problem with D-X is that NBC insisted on scheduling the program in erratic time slots (D-X disappeared from the network’s schedule for nineteen weeks in 1951)—and to add insult to injury, Dimension X had difficulty landing a permanent sponsor.  Isaac Asimov’s “Nightfall” would be the series’ final broadcast on September 29, 1951.

X-Minus One was a revival of Dimension X, premiering on April 24, 1955; in fact, the first fifteen episodes of D-X were revamped for the new series.  X-1’s run on radio was a lot longer than its predecessor’s; its last broadcast (its 126th episode) was on January 9, 1958—and there was even an attempt to bring it back during the nostalgia boom of the 1970s (with a pilot broadcast on January 27, 1973).  X-Minus One remains an exemplary illustration of sci-fi radio, dramatizing such classic tales as “Tunnel Under the World” (one of the scariest radio shows I’ve ever listened to, from the tale by Frederik Pohl), “Hallucination Orbit” (J.T. McIntosh), and “A Pail of Air” (Fritz Leiber).

I wrote the liner notes for a Radio Spirits collection of X-Minus One shows that came out in 2014: it contains some excellent broadcasts including “And the Moon Be Still as Bright” (09-22-55), “Skulking Permit” (02-15-56), and one of my personal favorites, “Lulungameena” (05-29-56).  The sixteen episodes comprise Time and Time Again (a collection with a SRP of $31.95), and I have two copies of this set to give away—perfect for either yourself or the science-fiction fan in your family.  Let us now read the rules on how to enter:

1) Send me an e-mail with “Time and Time Again” in the subject header to igsjrotr(at)gmail(dot)com.  You have until 11:59pm EST on November 26, 2016 (next Saturday) to enter.

2) Make sure you are a U.S. resident or have a U.S. mailing address.

3) If you’ve won one of the blog’s contests in the past thirty days, it’s just cricket (old boy) to maybe sit this one out to allow fellow members of the TDOY faithful a better chance of winning.

4) I will choose two winners Sunday morning of November 27th and inform the lucky persons of their tremendous good fortune.  Keep in mind that when entering, you don’t have to provide a snail-mail address…but I will need it once you receive that “Congratulations!” e-mail.

5) As always…there is no number five.

And there you have it—a chance to win a collection of some super swell radio drama and be the envy of everyone on your block.  Good luck to everyone who enters, and remember: Thrilling Days of Yesteryear is the phrase that pays!

1 comment:

rnigma said...

Yes, X Minus One was well done, with thoughtful adaptations of stories by several SF legends, and good performances by the best of NYC's radio actors.
Its only weakness is the library music they were forced to use, using many of the same well-worn cues heard in most of NBC's radio dramas of the '50s.