Original image: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Author: Villiers Gerson
Originally aired: 21 July 1950
Plot synopsis: In an authoritarian state somewhere in Europe, a scientist invents a machine capable of shrinking objects to microscopic size, which he intends to use to help rebels smuggle weapons under the noses of government forces.
Favourite line: 'You do not understand. Man has never actually seen an atom. But if we can reduce a camera and recording instruments to the atom's size, then we would know the secrets of the universe!'
Review: In many cases, it is to miss the point of a science-fiction story to be overly concerned about its scientific accuracy. Yes, we all know that time travel, faster-than-light spaceships, invisibility potions and so on are - on the basis of our current state of knowledge - impossible, but we generally accept such contrivances for the sake of allowing writers to tell a good story. As long as it is done convincingly, and authors stick to their own rules, there's no reason not to allow writers' imaginations to come up with all manner of weird and wonderful ideas. So, in itself, postulating a machine that shrinks people to miniature size isn't necessarily cause to dismiss a story out of hand. However, if it is a story that is otherwise grounded in reality which suddenly veers into the realms of the completely ridiculous, it is difficult not to judge it on its lack of rationality and logic. The line I quote above gives some idea of this episode's preposterousness - how exactly could a camera or recording equipment be shrunk to the size of an atom? - but it eventually becomes much more absurd even than this suggests. I won't reveal exactly where the episode ends up going, but suffice to say, it really does become very silly indeed. A further problem is that the whole initial set-up, concerning an underground resistance movement operating in an (unnamed) European dictatorship, goes absolutely nowhere. This was one of two Dimension X episodes dealing with experiments to shrink people - the other being Dr. Grimshaw's Sanitorium (X Minus One version reviewed) - and it's a shame that neither of them is particularly good.
Rating: * *