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This project was created by Paul Brians, Professor of English, Washington State University, using images from his personal collection.

Leonard Rifas, comic book artist and noted publisher of Educomics, Seattle, supplied a number of slides of comic book covers, especially of early comics. Craig Barnett of The Comic Book Shop in Spokane helped identify and secure many of the comics in this project. Ken Robe and Larry Jonas of the Washington State University student bookstore helped me identify and secure novels. Others who helped identify and procure images include Ann Wierum (Holland Library, WSU), Walter Simonson, Nat Gertler, J. W. Rider, and Dan Mishkin (via the Comics and Gamers Forums on CompuServe).

Picture and information about the atomic bomb ring thanks to Tom Tumbusch, author of the Illustrated Radio Premium Catalog and Price Guide (Dayton, Ohio: Tomart Publications, 1989).

In its earlier incarnation as a slide show, this project was supported with a grant from the Washington Commission for the Humanities.

Slide scanning performed by Julie Frank of the Washington State University Humanities Research Center.

Special thanks to Marc Lindsey for copyright advice.

This project represents a small selection from a much larger collection, and it is not anticipated that I will be adding substantially to it. However, there are two images that I would particularly like to find: the Hiroshima/Nagasaki board game, and a photo of the original bikini which publicized its invention by Louis RĂ©ard. If you have access to either of these images, I would appreciate hearing from you.

Paul Brians is the author of Nuclear Holocausts: Atomic War in Fiction 1894-1985 (Kent State University Press, 1987, currently out of print). A revised and expanded version of this book is available online here. He has also published the following articles:


“Americans Learn to Love the Bomb,” New York Times, July 17, 1985 (reprinted in the U.S. and abroad through the Times News Service and the International Herald Tribune. This article plus two interviews provided the basis for Konrad Ege’s article, “La culture populaire flirte avec la bombe,” Le Monde diplomatique, June 1986.

“And That Was the Future . . . The World Will End Tomorrow,” Futures, August 1988, pp. 424-433.

“Atomic Bomb Day” (pp. 32-33) and “Hiroshima Day (pp. 309-311) in Read More About It: An Encyclopedia of Information Sources on Historical Figures and Events. Vol. 3. Ann Arbor: The Pierian Press, 1989.

“Nuclear Family/Nuclear War,” in Nancy Anisfield, ed. The Nightmare Considered: Critical Essays on Nuclear War Literature. Bowling Green: Bowling Green State University Press, 1991. (A slightly revised version of the paper originally published in Essays in Language and Literature (Spring 1990).

“Nuclear War Fiction Collection at Washington State University, The,” College & Research Libraries News, 48 (March, 1987), pp.115-18.

“Nuclear War in Science Fiction, 1945-1959,” Science-Fiction Studies, vol. 11, part 3 (1984), pp. 253-263.

Resources for the Study of Nuclear War in Fiction,” Science-Fiction Studies, July 1986, 5 pp.

“Nuclear War Fiction for Young Readers: A Commentary and Annotated Bibliography,” in Philip John Davies, ed. Science Fiction, Social Conflict and War. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1990. [An earlier, abridged version of this article, without most of the notes and without any of the annotated bibliography, was published as “Nuclear Fiction for Children” in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1988; but I consider this the definitive version of the article.

“Nuclear War/Post-Nuclear Fiction,” Columbiana (Winter 1987), pp. 31-33

“Red Holocaust: The Atomic Conquest of the West,” Extrapolation, 28 (1987), pp. 319-329.

“Revival of Learning: Science After the Nuclear Holocaust in Science Fiction,” Phoenix from the Ashes: The Literature of the Remade World, ed. Carl Yoke. Greenwood Press, 1987.

“SF Summit in Moscow.” Locus, October, 1987.

with Vladimir Gakov: “Nuclear-War Themes in Soviet Science Fiction: An Annotated Bibliography.” Science-Fiction Studies 16 (1989): 67-84.

Other Recommended Resources:

Overlapping my book but containing discussions of some American fiction excluded by my study is Martha A. Bartter: The Way to Ground Zero: The Atomic Bomb in American Science Fiction.New York: Greenwood Press, 1988.

Thomas M. Disch’s The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered the World (New York: Free Press, 1998) includes a chapter sharply critical of SF’s treatment of nuclear war themes: “How Science Fiction Defused the Bomb” (Chapter 4, pp. 78-96).

Neo-barbarian fiction is discussed by Paul Carter: “By the Waters of Babylon: Our Barbarous Descendants,” The Creation of Tomorrow: Fifty Years of Magazine Science Fiction (New York: Columbia University Press, 1977).

Researchers interested in pursuing the subject of nuclear war as it has been depicted in the movies will want to consult Jack G. Shaheen’s Nuclear War Films (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1978) and Mick Broderick’s comprehensive Nuclear Movies: A Critical Analysis and Filmography of International Feature Length Films Dealing with Experimentation, Aliens, Terrorism, Holocaust, and Other Disaster Scenarios, 1914-1989 (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 1991).

For the period immediately after World War II, I drew on Paul Boyer’s outstanding study, By the Bomb’s Early Light: American Thought and Culture at the Dawn of the Atomic Age (New York: Pantheon, 1985).

The indispensible source on nuclear imagery generally is Spencer Weart: Nuclear Fear: A History of Images. Harvard University Press, 1988.

Created September 26, 1999.

Last revised October 10, 2001.

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