X Minus One -- "Inside Story" by Richard Wilson

Saturday, 07 February 2015 16:00 Dave Truesdale

X Minus One aired "Inside Story" on June 20, 1957 as its 99th episode. Written by Richard Wilson (1920-1987), the novelette originally appeared in the June 1955 issue of Galaxy. The story begins on Mars with a reporter for GNS (Galactic News Service) desperate for a news story now that Congress has departed for a vacation and the news is slow. He infiltrates (via an invisibility suit!) a camp of quarantined individuals who have been infected with an incurable virus that leads to their insanity and savagery. What he discovers blows a hole in the medical consensus--and the answer is a most unusual one, to say the least. But is there any present day scientific basis for his discovery, or is it just a fanciful speculation on the part of the story's author?

"Inside Story" can be read in its entirety from the original magazine here (where the interior Mel Hunter illustrations can be viewed and is a nice bonus), with a special "flip the page" feature making the experience immensely enjoyable.

Not terribly prolific, Richard Wilson wrote three novels and saw two collections of his short work published. However, the quality of his short work was well received, with three Nebula nominations and a Hugo nomination, his 1968 novelette "Mother to the World" (Orbit 3, ed. Damon Knight) copping both a Hugo and Nebula nomination, and winning the Nebula.

Play Time: 21:02

{June of 1957 would find youngsters free from the confines of school and kicking their heels up at their new won freedom. Not only exercising their bodies with sports and other assorted outdoor mischiefs, but giving their imaginations a workout as well, they eagerly devoured their favorite science fiction magazines on many a sunny, blue-sky, forever-day during that June of 1957, a few of which are shown below. I particularly like the Astounding cover. In 1957 home televisions were exploding across the nation. Everyone was glued to them--this new, hypnotic, glittering toy. And much like we see with our 21st century new, hypnotic, glittering toys, the ipad or iphone, we can't leave home without them and can't get our faces from in front of them, much like the fellow in his cold, desolate surroundings on the Astounding cover with what appears to be a portable television--or at the very least some sort of video receiver.}

{Note: While both Astounding and Fantastic Universe were monthlies, Venture was a bi-monthly in 1957.}

[Left: Astounding SF, June 1957 - Center: Fantastic Universe, June 1957 - Right: Venture SF, July 1957]