X Minus One -- Bad Medicine by Robert Sheckley

Saturday, 01 December 2012 18:28 Dave Truesdale

X Minus One aired Robert Sheckley's "Bad Medicine" on July 10, 1956. It originally appeared in the July 1956 issue of Galaxy under the pseudonym of Finn O'Donnevan. It's an amusing story of a homicidal maniac who purchases the floor model of a "therapy" machine tailored to his particular illness. Only there's a problem. The floor model is not to be sold under any circumstances, for it is programmed for Martian psychology. And there's the rub. Sheckley makes the most of it, as you might well imagine, using wit and humor to make effective social commentary. 

From his introduction to SF: Author's Choice 4, edited by Harry Harrison (1974, Putnam's), Sheckley writes of "Bad Medicine":  I wrote "Bad Medicine" as a lighthearted extrapolation of some not-very-possible possibilities to be found in a projection of the psychotherapeutic situation. The story was not meant to be true--only plausible within the conditions I set. I never thought that I was predicting a course of events that lay almost immediately before me. I was unaware of the possibility that a fantasy can be a prediction, and that predictions are often self-fulfilling. I was rewarded for my ignorance by spending a good part of the next six years in and out of the offices of a variety of psychotherapists. What they had in common was the arcane difficulty of their doctrines and the consistent lack of success of their methods. That and their enthusiasm, of course, which was impervious to any influence from reality. These qualities convince me that these people must have come from Mars or points west.

Herewith, X Minus One's dramatization of Robert Sheckley's (as per Finn O'Donnevan) "Bad Medicine."

Play Time: 28:47