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The 1950s Science Fiction Podcast S2 E5

Episode Review: Dimension X

By Edward GermanPublished 2 years ago 8 min read

Hello and welcome back to the 1950s Science Fiction Podcast. I have taken some time off from creating podcasts for the past month. In the interim, I have worked on an article for vocal media. A book review of the Michael Moorcock novel The Final Program. You find it on my website link on the podcast app page; be sure to check it out.

In today's show, I will be reviewing two episodes from the classic sci-fi radio show Dimension X; The series was the pre-curser to X-Munis-One. The NBC radio network broadcasted the show in the early 50s. The first episode was called Outer Limit and the first episode of the series. The second story, A Logic Named Joe, is based on a short story by Muray Leinster. Now onto the show.

Outer Limit.

The first episode is Outer Limit, aired on April 8, 1950; written by Graham Doar and adapted for radio by Ernest Kinoy. The story, set in the future year of 1965, 15 years ahead of the current time, sits an experimental rocket ship about to take off from a launchpad in the desert. Steve, the test pilot, is about to climb aboard; Steve is a seasoned professional with many test flights to his credit and, the supervisor stresses how important the test flight is. The Flight controller says that once he reaches the Outer Limit, he only has 10 minutes of fuel left until the point of no return. Hence the name of the episode. Also, an Atomic Bomb test in the Pacific secluded at the same time is a cause for concern.

The rocketship lifts off with only one slight delay; Flight control is told about Steve's wife's admission into the hospital due to being in labor. However, Steve doesn't know about his wife's condition and the countdown proceeds. The flight takes off, and everything else goes normal. Steve gains maximum altitude and reaches the outer limit. Once there, he sees a metallic object and decides to investigate. Steve heads toward the unknown aircraft but losses radio contact after being warned of low fuel.

Steve's rocketship, intercepted by the strange aircraft, is placed onboard. He finds himself looking at the control room of the alien vessel and is uncertain about his surroundings. A voice starts talking to him via telepathy. It is a communication from an alien who is somewhere aboard the ship. The alien warns Steve about the upcoming atomic test and stresses how dangerous allowing the bomb to detonate. The explosion would destroy the planet by setting off a chain reaction to a barrier around the atmosphere. It is a means to contain humanity from expanding outside of Earth and was erected by the aliens.

Steve is permitted to leave the alien ship and given a warning message to his superiors. Steve returns to the base and is then immediately questioned by his supervisor. The supervisor asked Steve how the rocket ship stayed aloft for 10 hours with only 10 minutes of fuel. Steve recounts his encounter with the alien spacecraft. However, his boss doesn't believe him. With the cooperation of Steve, the base psychiatrist exams the story while under the influence of hypnotic drugs. The doctor dismisses the story as a hallucination but, Steve insists it is true. Steve is concerned about the upcoming atomic test and believes it would cause the extinction of the Earth. Should the bomb explode, the barrier put in place by the aliens would destroy the planet.

Steve keeps on insisting that he is right and not imagining the encounter. The doctor insists that he take some time to rest. Steve goes along at first but runs out to his rocketship and threatens to explode it. The resulting explosion would destroy everything within a five-mile radius of the base, himself included. Steve demands the atomic test be halted and tells his boss to call Washington. The flight controller makes an emergency phone call to the government official in charge of the test. He gets thru, and the order to stop this test is approved. Steve gets out of his rocket ship and surrenders himself to the doctor. He agrees to get some rest and is led away to a barracks. Once Steve is gone, the flight controller tells the doctor about what happened. He pretended the call went thru and bluffed Steve from destroying the rocket. The atomic test went on as scheduled, not terminated. Now the listener is left with the question of what would happen if the bomb does go off. What would happen if it did and caused the destruction of life on the planet.

I thought the first episode of Dimension X was a great story. The episode was played well by the actors and had presented good drama. The show made creative sound effects, conveying a sense of realism throughout the story. As for predicting the future, it got a few things wrong and some right. The US stopped above-ground atomic testing before 1965; the last above-ground test was in 1962. Steve's boss tells him that at least 20 countries have Atomic weapons, and he should not worry about the upcoming event. In reality, only five nations had atom bombs in 1965. Even today, only eight countries have atomic bombs. The one thing they got right on the show, was video calling. The flight controller uses a video phone to call Washington to stop the test; he even dials several people in the process.

Overall this is a good episode of the series. I would recommend anyone interested in the series start at Outer Limit because it sets the mood for the show; after all, it is the first show. The plot of this episode was a common theme at the time; the quarantine of humanity due to atomic testing. The plot device would be in other stories from the same period. Aliens would create a barrier around the planet to protect themselves from primitive humans who were still warlike.

A Logic Named Joe.

The next episode I will discuss is the 13th show of the series, A Logic Named Joe. The episode, based on a short story by Murray Leinster, was published in Astounding Stories in March 1946. A Logic Named Joe, printed under his real name, Will F. Jenkins, is about a Logic repairman named Ducky. Ducky is the nickname of the repairman, and he is having a difficult time dealing with one logic that is different from the rest. The Dimension X presentation of A Logic Named Joe; was broadcast on the NBC radio network on July 1, 1950. Before the opening intro for Dimension X, the broadcast is interrupted by a breaking news alert about how North Korean military forces invaded South Korea and were bombing the country.

A logic named Joe was printed in this issue.

The story starts with the narration from Ducky and about how he saved the world. He explains how it all began when he had to explain how a Logic worked; for an interested client despite the fact he wasn't a salesman. Ducky demonstrates how a Logic operates and how to use the device. The description sounds extremely familiar once you hear the show's dialogue. You would think that is a spot-on prediction of the future. WOW!

Once the demonstration is over, the client purchases device. Ducky ensures the client that a Logic can't give any harmful advice. He explains how closely monitored; Logics is, so no information that would lead to unlawful acts is transmitted. Later during the day after, Ducky is off from work; and playing cards with his friends, things start to get interesting. During the game, one of the players uses a Logic to call home but gets this strange message instead. The device announces a new and improved service for Logics Incorporated. Now, this stirs the men's curiosity, and they decide to ask it a question; one man asked about how to kill his wife. The machine gives him instructions about poisoning her with chocolate ice cream.

After the card game ends, Ducky proceeds to his supervisor at Logics inc; he pleads with his boss to shut down the Logics. Ducky's boss explains why the Logics could not be deactivated because everyone is so dependent on the devices. Ducky's boss dismisses the inquiry at the card game as a joke. Ducky asks a Logic about what could kill his supervisor, a similar set of instructions is spoken. The supervisor listens to the Logics explanation but dismisses it again. Just then, the supervisor's wife calls and says she has made his favorite dessert for dinner. The dessert has a recipe created by a Logic; this frightens the supervisor, now he thinks his wife is out to kill him.

At this point, the supervisor instructs Ducky to go out and try to fix the problem. When Ducky goes out in public, all kinds of chaos ensues. The Logics give anyone advice on committing a crime and how to get away with it, information on your personal life, and cause mayhem. Ducky is unsure what to do, he gets with a co-worker and tries to fix the circuits, but it doesn't work. Ducky decides to go home to his family amid the crisis. While he is having a conversation with his wife, he realizes there is a solution to the Logic problem. Ducky goes to the residence of the owner who bought Joe from him. He asks the owner to see the Logic amid being hunted by the police. The police have orders to shut down Logics INC due to the problems the company has caused. Ducky decides to ask Joe a few key questions and concludes that this unit was the only one that malfunctioned. The Logic named Joe is removed just as the police arrive to arrest Ducky.

This episode of Dimeson X is a classic for its style and presentation. It was performed in a tongue-in-cheek form of comedy. Which was different from the episode, Outer limit, which was dramatic and edgy. The show featured an excellent cast for the presentation, and the story was well adapted for the radio dramas of the period. It is also considered a classic for the predictions of future technology depicted in the story. The rise of home computing and sending information via the internet; was envisioned when computer technology was in infancy.

I first read the story back in the eighties while in high school. I did recognize that the Logic was a personal computer, and they were interfacing with other computers at the time. A Logic Named Joe was one of many short stories republished in a book edited by Issac Asimov.

One of the things I did find amusing in the story was the voice of the Logic itself. It reminded me of the radio spot for the website askjves.com, advertised as the internet butler. You would type in a question at the website and get an instant answer. The site was renamed ask.com and is a search engine.

a logic named joe is one of many short stories in this book.

If you want to listen to the entire episodes of Dimension X, you can find them at archive.org or relicradio.com. I downloaded both episodes of Dimension X from the internet archive site and used audio clips for this podcast. I hope that you have enjoyed this episode of the podcast. I hope to have another episode out soon. Thanks for listening, and feedback is welcome by voice message on Anchor.FM, follow at Twitter EdwardGerman3, e-mail at [email protected].

science fiction

About the Creator

Edward German

A long-time sci-fi fan who loves the internet. I am also writing on subjects other than sci-fi.

you can follow me on "X" @EdwardGerman3 Listen to my podcast The 1950s Science Fiction Podcast on Spotify for Podcasters.

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