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More comments about the old radio show X Minus One
james_nicoll
Generally I prefer the Galaxy stories to the Astounding stories. No surprise there.

Clearly the X Minus One people like Ray Bradbury's stuff more than I do.

I am a bit surprised at the number of stories that could be taken as criticisms of how the US treated its Indian population. OK, touchy feely liberals like the Galaxy crowd getting the guilts doesn't surprise me but Astounding? And this early in US history?

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

Have you gotten to the one about the human boy who's taken in by Martians who are being hounded by human colonists?

American attitudes started shifting in the late '40s/early '50s with Westerns like Fort Apache and Broken Arrow that pointed out that the Indians weren't always the bad guys in the story. By '53 even John Wayne was producing movies with pro-Indian messages.

Bradbury's style leaned towards the lyrical side, and so probably translated better into radio than the more prosaic stuff.

I'm starting to think that maybe I should try more audiobooks now that they're more portable; the last one I heard was on cassette. (Henry Gibson, IIRC, reading Bear's "Blood Music".)

-- Steve still fondly remembers tuning in to the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings radio serials on CBC.

When I got into old time radio I was startled to hear how often the grown-up western shows had Indian-friendly or even Indian-supporting views. _Fort Laramie_ particularly stands out as having the regular cast (the officers in charge of the fort) fully sympathetic to the non-white-man's plight, and sincerely angry at the idiots who come out west and figure, hey, there's some Injuns, let's shoot 'em!

It's like the writers were taking at face value all those What We're Fighting For public service announcements from the war years about the rights of people to their homes and customs and self-government and to peaceful existence and applying them even to non-US citizens.

"It's like the writers were taking at face value all those What We're Fighting For public service announcements"

WWII was a big watershed in the US in that respect. IIRC Truman issued his order to integrate the Armed Services on the theory that segregation "made us no better than the Nazi".

Campbell's Humans (i.e. Americans) Rule! didn't really get as obvious as that until the, hmm, I'm going to say the late fifties. Which is why you get surprises like Philip K. Dick's "Imposter" where gur rnegu trgf qrfgeblrq naq uhznaf ybfr, a somewhat startling thing to read when I was going through the old issues of Astounding.

We simplify the past, and are then surprised when our images are shown to be full of high compression artifacts.

Compression artifacts -- lovely line, thanks. I'll be enjoying that all evening.

I think I'd change it to "our memories" rather than "our images."

And then put it on some coffee mugs.

Yeah, that's good. Maybe a less wordy form: "We simplify the past, and our memories are full of compression artifacts".

This.

My older brother (USMC in Vietnam, 1968-1969) has been diving deeper and deeper into Indochinese history for a decade: the advent of rice culture in the south, the pushing of indigenes into the highlands, and a millennium of N-S wars (some, in the 17th C, bigger than anything in Europe at the time). By now, all of what seemed core issues in 1954-1973 seem to him like last Tuesday's spin of the campaign news cycle.

I don't think the prozines had real Policies in that area (though Campbell was sometimes a bit quirky), but as I recall from reading a lot of sf in the '40s, many individual writers did have ... ummm..... some or many anti-Racist attitudes, which showed up pretty much randomly in the prozines. As a teen-ager, I just figured that it was part of wanting to shock people by presenting Advanced Notions, part of being Fair, and part of having wanted to be an Indian rather than a cowboy in childhood games (as I did).


JWC is not the guy I expect to buy an anti-racist message story, what with him being a stone-cold racist.

Campbell may not've had an official stated policy, but it's clear he had a policy -- he is the guy who made Samuel Delaney change a character's skin color after all -- and everyone was aware of it.

There was some Edmond Hamilton story from the 1920s-30s about the Earth's conquest of the solar system (good old E. H. never thought small). Mars was inhabited by primitive Martians who initially welcome humans but turn recalcitrant once they are herded onto reservations, and they start striking out at settlers. The Earthlings respond by killing them, and killing, and killing, and their campaign grows more and more brutal, viciously planned, and hard to believe in what seemed like a pre-Golden-Age planetary adventure story. Finally it becomes really clear to even the dimmest reader that Hamilton is writing a thinly-veiled denunciation of the invasion and bloody conquest of America by white people.

I've been listening to X Minus One lately myself. Some recent thoughts:

A lot of our classic science fiction is older than we remember. And there was a lot more of it out for the general public than we of the 21st century might appreciate.

Audiences have evolved over the years. Doubtless the first readers of A Logic Named Joe marveled at the idea of logics - and my spontaneous reaction at one point was, "Hey, what? That's a lousy search engine syntax!" But then I reminded myself that when the story was written nobody knew that natural language parsing was a hard problem.

Robert Heinlein was on the ball when predicting mobile telephones. In The Roads Must Roll folks routinely carry phones around (and plug them in at need, such as in restaurants); mobile communication points come up a lot in the story, such as being able to call a businessman when he's on the road or trying to keep thugs from phoning their boss during a shootout.

Also, X Minus One got the rights to a lot of excellent stories; whoever was getting material for them was really doing his job.