X Minus One -- "Chain of Command" by Stephen Arr

Friday, 04 April 2014 16:00 Dave Truesdale

X Minus One aired "Chain of Command" on November 21, 1956 as its 76th episode. The short story originally appeared in the May 1954 issue of Galaxy and was written by a relatively unknown author by the name of Stephen Arr (real name Stephen Alexander Rynas, 1921-2012). A humorous satire, it begins in a highly guarded government research laboratory where radiation exposure--along with experiments transferring sections of human brains into mice--has given rise to intelligent mice with the ability to speak. More detail would ruin the fun, but suffice to say that mice have rights too and this is where the satire kicks in, most notably with some spot-on spoofing of big government.

Stephen Arr apparently wrote very little, with a scant eight stories between the years 1953-55. Along with the current story, his other most notable story, "Mr. President," appeared in the November 1953 Galaxy. Appearing along with "Chain of Command" in the May 1954 Galaxy were stories by Theodore Sturgeon ("Granny Won't Knit"), Richard Wilson ("Back to Julie"), Winston K. Marks ("Mate in Two Moves"), James E. Gunn ("Open Warfare"), and William Morrison ("Bedside Manner").

Play Time: 29:15

{Having devoured many of their favorite SF magazines in late 1956 such as Amazing, Astounding, Galaxy, and F&SF, insatiable young appetites scoured the magazine racks for more, several of their new discoveries shown below.}

[Left: Infinity SF, Oct. 1956 - Center: The Original Science Fiction, Nov. 1956 - Right: Super-Science Fiction, Dec. 1956]