Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Common Errors in English Usage and More Discographies & Filmographies

Nuclear Holocausts: Atomic War in Fiction

by Paul Brians
Chapter Two
The Causes of Nuclear War


Nuclear war in fiction is distinctive not only in the way that its course and aftermath are portrayed, but even in the portrayal of its causes. A number of the more popular causes of holocausts are considered in the following pages: accident, madness, the “bolt from the blue” attack by the Russians or others, terrorism, and—most peculiar of all—the actions of vicious pacifists. The estimate that we make of the likelihood of a nuclear war is linked to our notions of its likely causes, so that these latter provide one of the most significant indices to attitudes on the subject.

In the majority of cases, such wars are presented as beginning by accident or from unspecified causes. So overwhelming is the prospect of a nuclear holocaust that authors rarely provide reasonable justifications for what seems to most people the ultimate act of political madness. Undoubtedly the strong streak of fatalism in our attitudes toward nuclear war helps to create this pattern. The thought that the end of civilization or of life on Earth could be precipitated by a mechanical malfunction or by the impact of a meteor being misinterpreted also appeals strongly to the absurdist mentality of many writers, and a very great number of fictional nuclear holocausts are set off in error.

The best known depiction of an accidentally caused nuclear war is Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler’s Fail-Safe (1962). Like all such accounts, the detailed criticisms Burdick and Wheeler make of defense equipment and procedures can be and have been answered; but such novels function primarily on the metaphorical level. Any particular accidental war is extremely unlikely, but the fact that accidental war is possible at all is horrifying. In any case, the authors of Fail-Safe demonstrate fairly convincingly that once matters escalate to the level of a red alert, the irrationality inherent in cold war animosity makes the plunge toward oblivion almost inevitable. The least persuasive part of the novel is not the series of mischances which leads to an unintentional attack on Russia, but the resolution by which the president of the United States—in.a parody of the sort of limited war described by Herman Kahn (depicted as Dr. Groteschele in the novel)—agrees to limit the war by sacrificing New York City in exchange for having accidentally destroyed Moscow. A year earlier, in “The Day They Got Boston,” Herbert Gold had also used the idea of an accidental nuclear war being managed through negotiations, but he had treated it satirically, foreseeing that it would be impossible to limit hostilities once begun.

Reports of Strategic Air Command alerts being prompted by meteor showers are reflected in several novels, such as Paul O. Williams’s The Dome in the Forest (1981). In Mordecai Roshwald’s Level 7 (1959), the danger of what is now called a “launch on warning” tactic is underlined when the enemy (unspecified) accidentally begins a war which is automatically carried on by the machines of the other side. Computer malfunctions of one sort or another trigger some fictional atomic wars, though fewer than might be supposed. More common is the defense computer so intelligent that it assumes control of humanity, as in D. F. Jones’s Colossus series (1966-77). (See Carolyn Rhodes, “Tyranny by Computer,” in Thomas D. Clareson, ea., Many Futures, Many Worlds: Theme and Form in Science Fiction [Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1977], 83-84.)

In a variation on the Frankenstein theme—or better, the theme of the sorcerer’s apprentice—more than one author has depicted battle machines which go on fighting long after their masters have disappeared. Thus nuclear war can be its own cause. The earliest example is Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s story “Dumb Waiter” (1952). Philip K. Dick inverted the theme in “The Defenders” (1953), in which the robots lie to their human masters, creating the illusion of a war which has long since ceased. In the same year Dick followed Miller’s lead in “Second Variety,” in which the robots take over. He returned to that device in 1955 with “Autofac,” and finally developed fully the phony-war theme first explored in “The Defenders” in his 1967 novel The Penultimate Truth.David R. Bunch’s Moderan (1959-70) depicts a world in which atomic war continues of its own momentum long after its rationale has been forgotten. Keith Laumer has accidentally reactivated battle machines running amok in the stories collected as Bolo: The Annals of the Dinochrome Brigade (1976). Battle machinery turning on its masters found its way into the mass media in the 1970s in the television series Battlestar Galactica, albeit without nuclear weapons. The theme reached its most sophisticated development in Gregory Benford’s outstanding 1984 novel, Across the Sea of Suns. Such stories provide a metaphor for the way in which nuclear weapons tend to acquire a life of their own. Strategy is often dictated by the possibilities of technology. A new weapon is invented, then a war must be designed to fit it. Once the technology is in place, it cannot usefully serve its makers except as a deterrent; instead they must serve it.

Conspicuously absent as a cause of nuclear war is the mad scientist. These evil geniuses had populated science fiction since its earliest days, Drs. Frankenstein and Jekyll, H. G. Wells’s invisible man and his Dr. Moreau being famous examples. But by the forties, the mad scientist had been relegated, by and large, to radio and movie serials and to the comic strips. In science fiction short stories and novels the scientist was usually the hero. Few criticized the physicists of the Manhattan Project for their role in developing the bomb. The doubts and fears about their role expressed by Oppenheimer and Szilard have found few echoes in fiction except in the novels depicting the Manhattan Project itself, the best of which is James Thackara’s America’s Children(1984). Even here, these scientists are troubled, but they are neither mad nor evil.

Many science fiction writers understood that the power of the new weapon threatened civilization and perhaps human survival, but they placed the responsibility for the coming holocaust on the shoulders of politicians or military men and argued that science still provided humanity’s best hope for the future. One must search diligently in the years immediately following Hiroshima to discover an unambiguous fictional attack on nuclear scientists, and what one finds—F. Horace Rose’s The Maniac’s Dream: A Novel of the Atomic Bomb (1946)—is eccentric, unrepresentative, and almost unread. In this book, a group of atheistic scientists try to prove the nonexistence of God by destroying most of the world with nuclear weapons. They are foiled by the protagonist and the pious daughter of one of the scientists aided by God himself, who strikes down the maniac of the title.

The mad scientist does not reappear as a cause of nuclear war in fiction until 1963, and then only as a by-product of the film Dr. Strangelove; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, which was subsequently novelized by Peter George and included the bizarre scientist of the title. Note that Strangelove is not the instigator of the war, however; that role belongs to the crazed anticommunist General Jack. D. Ripper. Strangelove himself—an amalgam of Kahn, Teller, and Kissinger—was an invention of Stanley Kubrick and Terry Southern, who wrote the film script. The novel which inspired the film, George’s Two Hours to Doom (1958; American title Red Alert), was a serious treatment of the theme of the danger of war started by a madman.

Philip K. Dick responded to the movie with Dr. Bloodmoney; or, How We Got Along After the Bomb (1965) about a scientist who causes a worldwide catastrophe unintentionally by incorrectly certifying that a high- atmosphere bomb test will be safe. Driven insane, he later sets off more bombs, but the war itself is not directly his responsibility. Dick came closer to blaming the scientist in Deus Irae (1976; co-written with Roger Zelazny), but the theme is treated with great irony: the scientist longs for martyrdom but is instead worshipped by his ignorant victims. These two novels represent perhaps the most negative portraits in science fiction of scientific responsibility for nuclear war, and they seem very moderate indeed.

If mad scientists don’t begin nuclear wars, mad generals occasionally do. The general in Two Hours to Doom must have seemed frighteningly convincing in 1958. If one accepts his premises—that the Russians must be destroyed at almost any cost—then his passionate arguments make a good deal of sense. He reflects the attitudes of many Americans and certainly the public posture of many politicians at the time that the novel was originally written. George’s character fails in his quest to make the world safe for American democracy because he hasn’t realized that the Russians have secretly built but not yet announced a doomsday device which will automatically destroy the world if the USSR is attacked, a circumstance which renders his planned first strike suicidal. (This twist in the plot can be criticized as a deus ex machine.) One might be tempted to view this conclusion as a warning against assuming that any first strike can be guaranteed success, since one can never be sure what the other side may do, but George ultimately places his hope in the improvement of the balance of terror.

Whereas in Two Hours to Doom he had avoided the threatened nuclear holocaust by a fortunate accident, in Dr. Strangelove George faithfully follows the movie by having the mad general’s scheme play out to its disastrous conclusion.

It is surprising that the notion of a crazed military man armed with nuclear weapons has not been treated seriously more often. Back in 1949 in “The Long Watch,” Robert A. Heinlein depicted a lunar official who tried to rebel against Earth’s government by using nuclear blackmail. George H. Smith created a Russian counterpart to General Ripper in his 1963 novel Doomsday Wing.The attack on New York in Robert Buchard’s Thirty Seconds Over New York (1969) is the result of a pyromaniac colonel; but he is Chinese, and in thrillers the Chinese are assumed to be capable of any madness, as we shall see.

Despite the fact that George lent his name to the novelization of Dr. Strangelove, whether he actually wrote it or not (see the discussion of this question in the bibliography entry), he obviously took the notion of an insane military officer seriously because he returned to it in his 1965 novel Commander-l. He acknowledged the weaknesses of his original plot, but concentrated this time on the mad submarine commander James Geraghty, who appoints himself ruler of the postwar world but who is in no way responsible for the war itself.

The vision of a submarine commander armed with nuclear weapons and difficult if not impossible to control from headquarters has often been presented in nonfictional discussions of the danger of accidental war; yet only Mordecai Roshwald in A Small Armageddon (1962) has treated the theme in nuclear war fiction, and done so in a farcical manner. Speculation about psychological pressures on the “men whose fingers rest on the button” finds expression in Kris Neville’s “Cold War” (1949), where the stress of serving as the guardians of the ultimate deterrent leads a military crew to crack and set off an attack. The power eats at them, Neville writes, “like marijuana.” Similar tensions seem destined to precipitate the holocaust in Donald Barthelme’s “Game” (1965).

There are plenty of serious novels which search for causes of nuclear war more realistic than technology run wild or generals gone mad. Many of them reflect the assumptions of those who develop United States nuclear war doctrine. The most common of these assumptions is that the Russians might be willing to attempt either a conventional invasion or a first strike against the West. As might be expected, the vast majority of works depicting such an attack were written during the late fifties and early sixties, when the cold war was at its height and the Russians had developed their ICBMs to the point that they posed a genuine if limited threat to our mainland, a threat made graphic by the launching of the first Sputnik in 1957. Although the atomic bomb was first used by the United States against Japan, there are those who still argue that President Truman intended the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at least partially as a warning to the USSR. Whatever the truth of that theory, it was certainly widely accepted after the war that the most likely target of future nuclear bombings would be Russia, and the fiction of the time naturally reflects that supposition.

Most often it is not considered necessary to propose a rationale for such an attack. The Russians are depicted as single-mindedly bent on dominating the world, even if that world should consist in large part of radioactive rubble. These early works contain little in the way of political theory. Conflict with the Soviet Union is simply viewed as inevitable. In this respect Robert A. Heinlein’s 1953 story “Project Nightmare” is typical. Heinlein, like Wylie more attentive to technical realism than most, realized early on that it would be possible to smuggle small-scale bombs into this country, making a devastating attack possible even before the Russians had perfected the ICBM. When an array of such bombs is discovered, Heinlein’s army uses trained psychics to prevent them from exploding and then sets the same psychics to devastating Russia—with notable glee—by exploding its own bombs on site. Heinlein is an interesting figure in the history of nuclear war fiction. Perhaps the most widely read science fiction author during certain periods, he has been deeply patriotic, extremely hostile to communism, and generally willing to glorify the military and the heroism of combat—see, for instance, his notorious novel glorifying militarism, Starship Troopers (1959). K. A. MacDermott analyzes Heinlein’s politics in an article entitled “Ideology and Narrative: The Cold War and Robert Heinlein” (Extrapolation 23 [1982]: 25~69), finding a fairly direct correlation between cold war politics and the attitudes presented in Heinlein’s fiction. However, Heinlein was no simple jingoist in the fifties. He was genuinely alarmed about the dangers of nuclear war and often wrote articles and stories warning his readers of the impending cataclysm. These are conveniently collected in Expanded Universe: The New Worlds of Robert A. Heinlein (1980). Because of his belief that nationalism and nuclear weapons were a fatal combination, he advocated a world government, as did many in the wake of Hiroshima.

Rabid militarism was far more common in the fifties than Heinlein’s position. Some writers went so far as to advocate that the United States make a first strike against the enemy. Even after the Russians developed (or stole, as was commonly thought), the A-bomb, the prospect of annihilating their country with a devastating nuclear attack was irresistibly attractive to many. Perhaps the most striking elaboration of this fantasy has been mentioned in chapter 1, the special issue of Collier’s magazine for October 27, 1951, entitled “Preview of the War We Do Not Want.” The Russians here are joyously liberated from their cruel Communist masters by a righteous nuclear assault on the Soviet Union, prompted by its invasion of Yugoslavia. It is somewhat alarming to note that in a number of works based more or less realistically on official American foreign policy statements, the United States—while responding to Soviet aggression—is nevertheless the first to use atomic weapons. Edward Teller, “father of the H-Bomb,” offered a scenario called “A Concise History of the Crostic Union War” in his 1962 book The Legacy of Hiroshima. He proposed that a limited nuclear war with the Russians could be fought and won given a sufficiently determined president. For an updated version of such scenarios, see William M. Brown’s 1975 study for the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency entitled The Nuclear Crisis of 1979. From the time of Dulles’s announcement of the massive retaliation strategy for Europe, to the United States government’s current refusal to make a no-first-use statement, the only nation on Earth which has announced it might begin a nuclear war in response to a conventional threat has been the United States. War-gamers are keenly aware of that fact, and use it in their prognostications.

A few liberal novels portray the danger that the United States will strike first because of paranoid fears of attack. John Brunner’s The Brink (1959), in which such an event is narrowly averted, is an unusual anti-cold war story which depicts the world as being endangered more by American anticommunism than by Russian aggression. When a Russian rocket crashes near an American missile site, bombers are sent out to retaliate, but an officer realizes that the missile was simply a misdirected spacecraft and recalls them. Even though he has saved the world from accidental holocaust, he is accused of treason and suspected of being a Communist, as is a liberal minister who has preached against bomb tests. Brunner’s work is a scathing attack on American militarism, chauvinism, racism, and paranoia. A similar theme is treated by S. B. Hough’s Extinction Bomber (1956). Both of these works were published exclusively in Britain, and both depict near-wars rather than actual wars.

In Burdick and Wheeler’s Fail-Safe the United States attacks first, of course, but blame is evenly distributed since the technical failure which leads to the catastrophe is caused by Russian jamming of our radio communications. America was simply not pictured as an atomic aggressor by anyone. To the average novelist, especially in the cold war era, a war of conquest against the West launched by the Russians seemed far more probable, or even inevitable.

During the Vietnam era, America’s trustworthiness was occasionally called into question, notably in Norman Spinrad’s “The Big Flash” (1969), which draws inspiration from the apocalyptic imagery of much psychedelic rock music (particularly that of The Doors). In Spinrad’s tale, the scheming military uses the mesmerizing power of electric rock to gain approval of the younger generation for the use of nuclear weapons in Southeast Asia. (This premise recognizes the odd contradiction between the antimilitary mood of youth in the late sixties and the extremely violent imagery of many of its most popular songs.) The cynical generals underestimate the power of music, however, and the story ends not in the wave of sympathy they had hoped for but in the unleashing of World War III. The story captures vividly the apocalyptic mood of the end of the decade in which many in a generation impatient with politics as usual longed for instant solutions. Spinrad’s story makes no claims to realism, but as a metaphor it is quite striking.

Yet there are those who—while not supporting a preemptive strike—nevertheless believe that a nuclear war could be survivable, and even beneficial to the interests of the West. An up-to-date Russian invasion scenario has been depicted by a retired British general, formerly of NATO, Sir John Hackett. In collaboration with his military colleagues, he has produced two volumes of nuclear age war-gaming entitled The Third World War: A Future History (1978) and The Third World War: August 1985 (1982). These works, replete with maps, photographs, and detailed descriptions of every major weapon in the arsenals of both sides, are hardly novels at all. They are rather lightly fictionalized essays on the probable course of a European war initiated by Russian aggression. Without much in the way of characters or plot, the books are almost unreadable; but they provide a fascinating glimpse into the mind of one of the military strategists associated with NATO.

The war begins in Germany in 1985 and escalates slowly (a major assumption of Hackett’s, and one which he shares with few other novelists). Only toward the conclusion of the book, almost as an afterthought, are atomic weapons used, destroying—not Moscow, London, or New York—but first Birmingham and then Minsk. The nuclear warning shot across the Soviet bow precipitates the same sort of nationalist rebellions which dismember the USSR in Collier’s 1951 World War III issue and in Philip Reynolds’s When and If (1952), with much less justification.

Hackett’s main aim seems to be to make a case for preparing for a conventional war in Europe, but he rather undermines his own cause by creating a situation in which the superior weapons of the West leave the Russians no choice but to retaliate in desperation with nuclear bombs. Clearly if superior conventional weaponry is no deterrent to a nuclear war and the Russians are foolish enough to ignore the nuclear deterrent, nothing can be done to prevent them from launching a suicidal attack on the West.

Hackett takes such pains to make his work up-to-date, setting it in the very near future, that parts of it are already dated. The sequel, which gives details skimmed over or ignored in the first volume, considerably revises his view of the world situation. While he was the first author to deal with the danger of electromagnetic pulse radiation (EMP), he disposes of it cavalierly and unconvincingly by stating that it was successfully barred by the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963. In an odd way, Hackett trusts the Russians. He trusts them not to launch the sort of war he would find impossible to fight. He also assumes a massive, deep- seated hatred by the Russian people toward their government, which needs only slight stimulus to set off a revolt. The heartening prospect of a disintegrated Soviet Union and a largely intact Western Europe makes a brisk nuclear exchange almost attractive, although in a postscript Hackett acknowledges that the Russian decision not to launch an all-out strike to defend itself is almost incredible, an admission which underlines the weakness of his whole scenario.

One chapter of the sequel depicts the dismantling of the Russian nuclear arsenal. Striving for realism, Hackett allows China to keep its bombs while the Europeans agree to disarm if other Third World nations follow suit. (In addition, Hackett shows himself to be no hidebound conservative by praising the deeds of a female bomber pilot and generally supporting the use of women in combat.) In general, Hackett’s combination of technological sophistication and political naiveté is frightening because it suggests the state of mind prevalent among many who hold in their hands the fate of humanity. What is even more frightening is the warm reception Hackett’s work received in many powerful conservative circles, and its commendation by President Ronald Reagan, who was greatly impressed with it.

Again and again it is assumed that the Russian nuclear arsenal is intended for aggressive use. Never—except in Bertrand Russell’s “Dean Acheson’s Nightmare” (1954—are the Russians seen as primarily on the defensive. Indeed, their aggressiveness often verges on madness. Philip Wylie, in his 1963 novel ironically entitled Triumph, proposes that the Russians will deliberately sacrifice the Northern Hemisphere, including their own nation, in order to use their remaining nuclear weapons to blackmail the rest of the human race into submission. A remnant of the Communist party will rule over a remnant of humanity. Although the Russian scheme fails only in one crucial respect—all the Russians are killed—Wylie clearly intends his novel, like his other, similar works, to be a warning. But how can a nation of kamikazes be deterred? In common with several other authors, Wylie depicts an enemy so crazed by the lust for world domination that no conceivable action can prevent it from executing its schemes.

Deterrence is treated more credibly in certain other novels. Pat Frank wrote two works in which he warned of a pair of “missile gaps”: Forbidden Area (1956) and the much better known Alas, Babylon (1959). In the former, he suggests that the Russians might launch a preemptive strike before our ICBMs can be based; and in the latter he echoes Kennedy’s concerns that the Russians could successfully pull off a first strike (they are prevented from succeeding only by the fortuitous defection of a Russian turncoat). Oddly enough, in the final pages of Forbidden Area, the United States rejects the opportunity to launch its own unilateral attack—which would definitely defeat the USSR—because of fears by government officials that such an all-out attack might result in ecocide, a consideration not previously mentioned. Frank was careful not to raise this prospect in Alas, Babylon, where the war is relatively benign. Ultimately Frank imagines, with many of his contemporaries, that the Russians are far less rational than the Americans. He grants that nuclear war is madness on a global scale in these novels, but nevertheless feels that such a war, deliberately instigated by the Russians, is probable if our deterrent is inadequate.

Forbidden Area is an essay in military preparedness, depicting the army and air force as incredibly reluctant to consider warnings of the danger posed by a mid-fifties window of vulnerability. Similarly, Alas, Babylon begins as an essay in civilian preparedness, preaching the need for an effective civil defense program. Yet Frank cannot resist the logic of nuclear war. In his farcical first novel, Mr. Adam (1946), as noted in chapter 1, he had depicted the sterilization of every human male but one through a nuclear accident. He criticizes his own frivolousness in Forbidden Area:“Years ago a fellow wrote a story about all the men being sterilized by a big nuclear explosion. If there had been a war, I don’t think anything so quick and simple would have happened. It would have been much worse. A big bang, and then a long, long whimper.” As Frank continued to write about the subject of nuclear war, the prospects he depicted became more and more grim, although his main aim remained to warn his readers to preparedness. It is a common pattern, recalling Philip Wylie’s development in particular. The serious contemplation of atomic warfare has a sobering influence on some minds.

One of the best known accounts of a European war escalating to a nuclear holocaust is Hans Hellmut Kirst’s The Seventh Day (1959). For the most part it is a slick political thriller which—like Ewart C. Jones’s Head in the Sand (London: Arthur Baker, 1938)—was written in response to the Hungarian uprising of 1956. Similar events in Poland cause a war in Germany, the setting of most of the novel, which is only natural considering that Kirst is German. He creates a large, sympathetic cast of characters and then destroys them one by one, an effective technique which, however, is seldom used by other writers of nuclear war fiction. Normally they concentrate on a relative handful of characters, usually located in a single area. But in many other political novels and in a host of spy stories, the threat of a Russian nuclear attack functions primarily to heighten the tension of a crisis, as in Fletcher Knebel’s Night of Camp David(1965), and nuclear war is simply a peripheral interest.

In distant second place as an attacking nation is China. Occasionally, as in Mervyn Jones’s On the Last Day (1958), the Chinese figure as allies of the Russians; but after the Sino-Soviet split in 1960, this ceased to be a realistic scenario. However, one of the clichés of American foreign policy during the sixties was the belief that when Mao said that a nuclear attack could not destroy China because millions of its immense population would survive, he was demonstrating a near-suicidal recklessness. (It seems more likely that he was merely whistling in the dark, since the only realistic “deterrent” China had to a nuclear attack by one of the two superpowers was its mere ability to survive.) This analysis of the Chinese point of view turns up occasionally in fiction. While no author has suggested that China is capable of devastating the United States with its own small atomic arsenal, more than one has presumed that her leaders might engineer a war between the Soviet Union and America which would leave them unchallenged rulers of the world.

I have already mentioned Bernard Newman’s The Blue Ants: The First Authentic Account of the Russian- Chinese War of 1970 (1962). It is an extreme example, but it well expresses the paranoia which suffused American views of the Chinese in the sixties. Bound in a lurid yellow cover, this bizarre work tells of the plot by the fiendish Feng Fong to trigger an East-West war which will leave China master of the Earth. This is perhaps the earliest example of a fictional Russo-Chinese nuclear war, a theme which has become more common in recent times as border skirmishes have lent some credibility to such a scenario.

In the 1970s and 80s tensions in the Near East rendered the Arab-Israeli conflict as the precipitating cause of a nuclear war credible. See, for instance, Thomas N. Scortia’s Earthwreck!(1974), David Graham’s Down to a Sunless Sea (1979), and Luke Rhinehart’s Long Voyage Back (1983). More often than not the Israelis are depicted as striking first—probably because they are the Middle Eastern nation most widely suspected of having nuclear warheads— although in Dean Ing’s Pulling Through (1983), the Iraqis institute the use of such weapons. Other combinations of combatants are rare. Originality of political alignment is, however, a distinguishing feature of the absurd The Texas-Israeli War: 1999 (1973) by Jake Saunders and Howard Waldrop. The Irish attack Britain with LSD, which leads a crazed prime minister and parliament to launch a nuclear attack. The unlikely coalition of Ireland, China, and South Africa is formed, fighting against a British-American-Russian coalition. The bizarre politics of these alliances are not explored, their main function being to leave the Israelis the sole relatively untouched nuclear power so that the authors can send Jewish mercenary soldiers in tanks across the southwestern deserts to rescue the president of the United States, kidnapped by rebellious Texans.

It would be inaccurate to leave the impression that the Russians are usually portrayed as the primary instigators of fictional nuclear wars. As noted at the outset of this chapter, most often no political cause is specified; rather the war is either an accident or a cataclysm of the distant past whose details are lost to human memory. Clearly authors are hard pressed to create a credible political scenario in which the decision to use nuclear weapons can be depicted as rational; most prefer to describe a “bolt from the blue” or simply evade the question. In a few cases, such evasion is purposive, as in Roshwald’s Level 7, which avoids specifying either the victim or the aggressor nation so that he can concentrate on human suffering, not on international politics. And Will F. Jenkins creates a mystery around the theme “Who launched the attack?” in his novel The Murder of the U.S.A. (1946). He outlines a method by which a sneak attack could be launched by a nation wishing to conceal its identity but never identifies the attacking country. Jenkins, unlike Roshwald, is extremely nationalistic and strongly argues for retaliation, but it is difficult to see why he does not specify the identity of the attacker unless he simply found the task of drawing up a credible scenario beyond him.

In thrillers, terrorists of various stripes, including apolitical atomic blackmailers, threaten to precipitate nuclear war, but they are almost always foiled at the last minute. One exception to this rule is the excellent account of clandestine bomb-building by Nicolas Freeling entitled Gadget (1977), which ends with most of the world’s leaders being killed. Another variety of terrorist —the violent pacifist—poses a more serious threat in muscular disarmament novels. Usually written from a conservative anti-Communist perspective, such works see anti-bomb crusaders as likely to precipitate the very sort of war they claim to want to prevent. Figures loosely based on repentant nuclear scientists like Szilard and Oppenheimer threaten the world with nuclear holocaust unless it agrees to disarm in Alan Gardner’s The Escalator (1963) and John Briley’s The Last Dance (1978). A similar mad scientist-pacifist menaces human survival in Bob Shaw’s Ground Zero Man(1971). And as noted in chapter 1, there are no more violent, vicious, and treasonous antiwar activists than those in Allen Drury’s portrait of the Vietnam era movement, The Promise of Joy(1975).

In right-wing fiction, muscular disarmament is admirable only if it is carried out by the right people. Bernard Newman, for instance, mercilessly mocks the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and United States antiwar groups in Draw the Dragon’s Teeth (1967), but endorses the scheme of the Legion of a Thousand to force disarmament on the world. China’s reluctance to cooperate forces the legion to smuggle nuclear bombs into that country to destroy its plutonium processing plant. In Martin Caidin’s The Mendelov Conspiracy (1969), a similar group uses superpowered flying saucers to enforce its demands. Again the Chinese are reluctant, and this time Russia and the United States must threaten a joint invasion to get them to cooperate.

A few authors seem to endorse the schemes of pacifists. James MacGregor’s A Cry to Heaven (1960) depicts a wealthy eccentric who kidnaps prominent people and flies them into the area of a planned H-bomb test to bring it to a halt, with seeming success. And in William C. Anderson’s farcical Pandemonium on the Potomac (1966) the British hoax the world into disarming by sending emissaries claiming to be from Venus who—like the aliens in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)—claim to have irresistible powers at their command. The best known of all muscular disarmament novels is, of course, Leonard Wibberley’s The Mouse that Roared (1955); but in that instance the superweapon turns out to be a dud.

Pacifism has not fared well, then, in nuclear war fiction. Several novels depicting the period after Hiroshima involve scientists who campaign for peace, but these are mostly Oppenheimer/Szilard figures concerned to prevent a holocaust (they also pay for their activism by being treated as security risks); they are not pactfists as such. Only Helen Clarkson’s The Last Day (1959) articulates a consistently pacifist view of nuclear war. An advocate of the doctrines of Gandhi, Clarkson points out that the usual clichés about dying for one’s country make no sense when one’s government is engaged in ensuring the death of its own citizens and the destruction of its territory. Clearly analyzing the qualities which make nuclear war distinctly different from traditional war, Clarkson anticipated many of the arguments used by Jonathan Schell in The Fate of the Earth (1982). But rarely in these liberal works do pacifists succeed in gaining power. That happens mainly in the nightmares of conservatives, as in the pacifist dystopias to be discussed in chapter 4.

Other sorts of civil revolt—including race riots in W. D. Pereira’s Aftermath 15 (1973) and youth rebellions in G. R. Kestavan’s The Pale Invaders (1974) have precipitated fictional nuclear wars. In fact almost any political position or movement a writer finds obnoxious, left or right, has been shown to be liable to lead the world to an atomic death. What more clinching argument could one wish for in a political argument than a rousing holocaust? Yet though there is an abundance of candidates for most likely instigator of the end of the world, most authors care little who begins the war. The very possibility of a holocaust may render such considerations irrelevant in many people’s minds: a large proportion of readers and writers alike were convinced that we were doomed to destroy ourselves in a nuclear war, that it was only a matter of time until the holocaust came.

Go to Chapter Three

Back to Chapter One

Annotated Bibliography



Nuclear Holocausts: Atomic War in Fiction

by Paul Brians
Chapter One
The History of Nuclear War in Fiction


Throughout the ages—and long before the invention and development of nuclear weapons—there had been those who prophesied that the world would end because of man’s wickedness.
Such prophesies were always believed, no matter how many times they had been proved wrong in the past. There was a wish for, as well as a fear of, punishment. Once nuclear weapons were invented, the prophecies gained plausibility, although now they were couched in lay terms rather than religious ones.
Evidence, the more convincing because governments tried to suppress it, proved that the world could be ended at the touch of a button.

Brian Aldiss, Helliconia Winter (1985)

     On the island of Eniwetok, site of the atomic bomb tests of 1947-52, a man named Traven walks among the concrete blocks, searching for something he fears to find. He is haunted by memories of the bombing runs against Japan and by the deaths of his wife and son in an automobile accident for which he blames himself. He has sought out these sands, fused by the weapons tests, as the setting for his expiation, blending his guilt with the larger guilt of humanity in creating the possibility of nuclear war. He wanders through the blocks as through a maze, returning constantly to the center, finding himself there “when the sun was at zenith—on Eniwetok, the thermonuclear noon. . . . Its ruined appearance, and the associations of the island with the period of the Cold War—what Traven had christened ‘The Pre-Third’—were profoundly depressing, an Auschwitz of the soul whose mausoleums contained the mass-graves of the still undead.”

In his classic parable for the atomic age, “The Terminal Beach” (1964), J. G. Ballard uses the imagery of nuclear war to summon feelings of guilt, despair, emptiness, and self-annihilation. The protagonists of Ballard’s stories and novels are often fascinated by impending doom, mesmerized by the end of time; but Traven’s quest is a more thoughtful one, an attempt to reconcile his personal guilt with that of the culture of which he is a product expiating in advance the guilt of destroying the human race in a thermonuclear holocaust. The freezing of time, a constantly recurring theme in Ballard’s work, is expressed in “The Terminal Beach” by a fascination with the melted silica which bears the imprint of the old explosions: “The series of weapons tests had fused the sand in layers, and the pseudo-geological strata condensed the brief epochs, micro-seconds in duration, of thermonuclear time.”

Many authors have pondered the significance of the bomb in the years since 1945. World War III—the nuclear holocaust—has been fought over and over in the pages of books and magazines. In a way, these are war stories; but nuclear war is different from earlier wars in ways that affect its depiction in fiction. First, it is short. Although some of our fiction depicts lengthy atomic warfare, most of it assumes the war will be over in minutes, or hours at most. Concepts familiar from other wars become irrelevant: conscription, the noble sacrifice of soldiers to defend loved ones at home, the civilian support of the war effort. Indeed, the distinction between civilian and military is largely erased except that the military personnel most directly engaged in conducting the war are the most sheltered, and innocent civilians the most likely casualties. In Helen Clarkson’s The Last Day: A Novel of the Day After Tomorrow (1958), one character comments: “In the old days, men at arms were always sustained through the immoral act of killing by the thought that they were not fighting for themselves, but for their children. Today men ask their children to die for them.”

Because nuclear war leaves no time for the traditional distinctions, many of the qualities central to other modes of war fiction are irrelevant. Courage is of little use, even for the preservation of one’s own life. No amount of loyalty, determination, self-sacrifice or heroism will deflect an incoming intercontinental ballistic missile one jot from its programmed course. The hope of victory, which is all that makes war worthwhile for most, is absent. Mere retaliation can produce at best a pyrrhic victory, at worst, the end of life on Earth. And where traditional war fiction appeals to the notion that in combat human character is tested and the inner self revealed, nuclear war stories are dominated by machinery, not human beings. The rockets and bombs dwarf the officials who launch them, and the logic of battle is dictated by technological considerations as much as it is by the strategic decisions of such officials.

The paradox that the entire point of nuclear war is its own prevention— deterrence—leads to yet other paradoxes. A commander in chief must convince the enemy that he is determined to fight, if necessary, a war which can only be a catastrophe for his own nation. The details of strategy must be carefully laid out so that they may never be used. The more unthinkable the war becomes, the more we must think about it. Unlike in other wars, the enemy must be well informed of our plans and resources, for a secret deterrent is no deterrent at all.

A peculiar feature of the age of nuclear combat is the possibility of accidental war. Wars have in the past been begun on the basis of trivial incidents, misunderstandings, and errors in judgment; but the notion that civilization might be ended or life on Earth be destroyed through a technical malfunction or an error in judgment presents an absurdity of such enormous dimensions that it can scarcely be grasped. The resultant air of futility about much nuclear war fiction is convincing in ways that similar views of conventional war could not be. Even those few writers who try to establish that atomic war might be purposeful or beneficent seem led by its internal logic to depict it as absurd.

The author of a nuclear war story, then, lacks many of the resources of traditional war narratives. The genre it has most in common with is not in fact the war story at all, but the narrative of a great catastrophe: fire, flood, plague. Nuclear war fiction has necessarily evolved its own conventions, the specifics of which will be explored in the following pages. It is disheartening to see how soon the conventions that emerged from this new type of fiction became cliché, how quickly it became possible to write utterly unoriginal works on the subject. To see the potentially most awesome of subjects trivialized enlarges one’s sense of the capacity of the human mind for irrelevance. Yet the genre has also produced thoughtful, powerful works, even a few works of high literary merit.

Hiroshima has had nothing like the literary impact of other great military events. Even thought this study surveys well over fourteen hundred items—even allowing for a generous number overlooked—the number of novels, short stories, and plays depicting nuclear war and its aftermath published in English in any given year since 1945 has seldom exceeded two dozen. Stories of the atomic holocaust have never rivaled in number stories of other conflicts such as the American Civil War or World War II. Even in those years when a good many nuclear war stories were published, they were rarely widely read: most of them are science fiction, and until recently science fiction has had a very restricted audience.

There is another, more important reason for the relative unpopularity of nuclear war fiction: it can be disturbing. Even at its most escapist, it deals with a war many readers felt to be as inevitable and final as death itself. Unlike historical wars, World War III will not stay safely in the past to allow itself to be enjoyed. The armchair general of World War II is reassured by the knowledge that he or she has survived; the armchair victim of World War III had no such assurance.

Nuclear war must be the most carefully avoided topic of general significance in the contemporary world. People are not curious about the details. Once in a decade a book will receive a broad audience: John Hersey’s Hiroshima (1946), Nevil Shute’s On the Beach (1957), Jonathan Schell’s The Fate of the Earth (1982). But whereas Civil War buffs who will consume volume after volume about Bull Run and Vicksburg are commonplace, there are few World War III buffs: almost everyone seems to feel adequately informed by reading one book about nuclear war. So thoroughly neglected is the genre that there are many notable novels which have been almost entirely overlooked or forgotten. This study aims to bring them to the attention of a wider public.

Some authors of this fiction are mere hacks, unthinkingly using the atomic holocaust as just another setting for escapist fiction; but most, talented and untalented alike, are trying to project and thus warn of the danger that confronts us.

Novelists did not wait until August 6, 1945 to begin writing accounts of atomic warfare. The public imagination had been inflamed with all manner of wild fancies in reaction to the discoveries of X-rays by Roentgen in 1895, of radioactivity in uranium by Becquerel in 1896, of radium and polonium by the Curies in 1898, and of the possibility of converting matter into energy according to Einstein’s relativity theory of 1905. Popular fiction was not slow to adapt the new knowledge to military uses.

The atom was viewed as harboring world-shattering power as early as 1895: in Robert Cromie’s The Crack of Doom (London: Digby, Long), a group of madmen are barely thwarted in their plot to use an atomic device to undo creation. Novelists were particularly prodigal in the invention of all manner of miraculous rays. In George Griffith’s The Lord of Labour (written in 1906, published in 1911) the Germans invent a ray which can “demagnetize” metal in such a manner that it crumbles into dust on impact. The British fleet is manipulated into destroying itself when it fires its guns at the ray-wielding enemy fleet of wooden ships. But Anglo-Saxon ingenuity and civilization triumph as the English retaliate with helium-radium bullets of stupendous explosive power. The supposed healing powers of radioactivity were touted as early as 1907 in a story titled “Itself” by Edgar Mayhew Bacon (The Black Cat, July; reprinted in Samuel Moskowitz, ea., Science Fiction By Gaslight: A History [New York: World, 1968]). Also in 1907 Upton Sinclair wrote a play concerning atomic weapons which remained unpublished and unproduced until he revised it as a novel in 1924: The Millenium: A Comedy of the Year 2000 (2 volumes, Girard, Kansas: Haldeman-Julius, 1924). In it tiny radium weapons are carried by guards. The new element radiumite, which produces atomic energy, kills all life on Earth when a mad professor smashes a jar full of it. Only eleven humans who happen to be flying in an airplane survive. Edgar Rice Burroughs had his Martians also using radium bullets in 1912 in Under the Moons of Mars (later retiled A Princess of Mars).

     Popular articles and books on the mysterious new sort of energy proliferated during the early years of the twentieth century, among them Frederick Soddy’s Interpretation of Radium (1908). Soddy’s lucid explanation of the new science was cited by H. G. Wells in 1913 when he wrote what is usually cited as the first novel depicting a war involving atomic weapons, The World Set Free (published in 1914, on the eve of World War I). As Ritchie Calder points out in his introduction to the Collins edition, Wells made plenty of errors. He imagined bombs behaving rather like reactors, sustaining continuous seventeen-day-long volcano-like explosions. He confused chemical and atomic reactions and erroneously supposed that the end product of radioactivity would be gold (fortuitously destroying the precious-metal monetary standard). Yet, considering that most popular writers saw in radioactivity a form of magic capable of all manner of miracles (see, for instance, Philip Francis Nowlan’s Armageddon 2419, first published 1928-29), and that early science fiction was distracted by variegated rays which could cause invisibility or shrink a man to the size of an atom, it is remarkable that Wells was able to make as much sense out of the knowledge of his day as he did. He understood Einstein’s theory well enough to grasp that atomic energy would be derived from the annihilation of matter; the “Carolinium” used in his bombs bears some resemblance to plutonium; and his atomic bombs are delivered from the air.

The novel, which appeared in 1914, belongs to Wells’s pontificating middle period and is relatively plotless, consisting in the main of lectures on history and an account of a utopian but authoritarian world government with a monopoly on atomic weapons. Wells’s vision of a united world did not, of course, need the new scientific discoveries to prompt it; but he was not to be alone in imagining that the overwhelming power of the atom would force humanity to set aside its petty nationalistic disputes. Indeed this sanguine view was a mere repetition of the hopes expressed upon the invention of weapons such as TNT, which were also supposed to make war inconceivable. Wells’s novel, like Hollis Godfrey’s The Man Who Ended War (Boston: Little, Brown, 1908), and other, similar tales discussed in Merritt Abrash’s “Through Logic to Apocalypse: Science-Fiction Scenarios of Nuclear Deterrence Breakdown” (Science-Fiction Studies 13 [1986]: 129-30) anticipated post-1945 works in which atomic blackmail per se forces peace on the world—stories that might best be called “muscular disarmament” fiction.

Growing interest in the theme is illustrated by Wings Over Europe: A Dramatic Extravaganza On a Pressing Theme, a play by Robert Nichols and Maurice Browne (1929). The British cabinet is confronted by a young man, the son of the prime minister, who has penetrated the secrets of the atom sufficiently to create world-wrecking bombs and the transmutation of matter. He envisions a utopia administered by benevolent England, but the greed and militarism of the cabinet members frustrate his endeavor. In despair, he determines to destroy the world, but is killed by a truck just before setting off the explosion. Just as the world seems safe for capitalism and warfare once more, word arrives that the Guild of United Brain Workers has independently discovered the secret and has placed atomic bombs in airplanes circling above all the major capitals of the world, aiming at global rule, underlining the theme that scientific discoveries cannot be kept secret indefinitely. The secretary of state for foreign affairs gains possession of the first discoverer’s triggering mechanism and plans to confront the Guild with it. The ending is left in suspense. The play was staged with some success in New York as well as in London. Also in 1929, Capt. S. P. Meek’s “The Red Peril” depicted the use of atomic weapons against invading airships of the USSR.

In 1932 Harold Nicolson, diplomat and biographer (also the husband of Vita Sackville-West), published another early muscular disarmament novel, Public Faces; in it the British impose universal disarmament through their monopoly of atomic bombs delivered by rockets strongly resembling cruise missiles. Nicolson’s weapons are far more powerful than those of Wells: one dropped off the coast of Florida creates a tidal wave which kills eighty thousand people, shifts the course of the Gulf Stream, and permanently alters the climate. Nicolson was less interested in technical matters than in the political maneuvering of the great powers in which peace and British supremacy are ensured by the boldly illegal stroke of an imaginative, headstrong minister.

In contrast, Eric Ambler, in his first spy thriller, The Dark Frontier (1935), depicted an atomic bomb whose power to dig a mere eighty-foot-wide crater is treated as a terrible threat to civilization. An idealistic and adventurous physicist risks his life to destroy the creator of the weapon and all of his notes in the Baltic dictatorship of Ixania. He does take into account that what has been once invented can always be reinvented later, but imagines that the world might become peaceful enough in the meantime to be able to handle atomic power.

In a 1989 Introduction to the 1990 reprint of his novel, “I lay no claim to special prescience. Having had a scientific education and through it gained access to academic journals, I had read about the early work of Rutherford, Cockcroft and Chadwick in the field, and understood some of its implications. How superficial that understanding was will be apparent now to any high school senior” (“Introduction,” The Dark Frontier, New York: The Mysterious Press, 1990, p. xi). The fuzzy physics described in the novel have nothing to do, however, with the physics of a real atomic bomb.

  1. B. Priestly escalated the potential carnage in his 1938 novel, The Doomsday Men, in which a group of religious fanatics come close to succeeding in their plot to destroy the world by bombarding a lump of a newly discovered radioactive element with a cyclotron, creating a reaction which would have completely disrupted the Earth’s crust, peeling it like an orange. But throughout the twenties and thirties most popular articles and books on atomic energy focused on its peaceful uses. The utopia of tomorrow would be created through cheap and abundant atomic power, not through atomic blackmail. In 1922 Karel Capek’s The Absolute at Large envisioned a cataclysmic world war brought on by the development of a “Karburator” which liberated pure energy from matter; but the new technology is not itself applied to weapons and civilization is destroyed by conventional means.

The U.S.-supported research which led to the Manhattan Project began in 1939 amid the greatest secrecy, and the following year the publication or further articles on atomic theory was prohibited in Britain and America. But just before wartime censorship was imposed, the announcement of the successful splitting of uranium 235 and the possibility of power derived from a chain reaction led to a spate of newspaper and magazine articles hailing the atomic utopia of the future and darkly hinting at the possibility of weapons being designed by Nazi scientists; see, for instance, the front page article by William L. Laurence, “Vast Power Source In Atomic Energy Opened by Science,” The New York Times, May 5, 1940; R. M. Langer, “Fast New World,”Collier’s, July 6, 1940; and “The Atom Gives Up” by Laurence in The Saturday Evening Post, September 7, 1940. In a sense, the Manhattan Project shut the door after the horse had been stolen, as was acknowledged in a September 8, 1945, editorial in The Saturday Evening Post revealing that the War Department tried to prevent the distribution and reading of the Post’s 1940 issue even in public libraries across the country. The basic principles of atomic fission and the possibility of a uranium bomb were common knowledge, and wartime censorship hid little that spies did not already know; but popular articles on the subject ceased to appear and the public seemed to forget about the whole issue during much of World War II.

Only in science fiction did speculation continue, principally in the pages of Astounding Science Fiction. Editor John W. Campbell, Jr. was by far the most influential editor in science fiction during the thirties and forties, fostering new approaches to science fiction, introducing new writers, and assigning story topics to his authors. He was fascinated by things atomic, and continually urged others to create stories on the theme. Throughout the 1930s he had written stories depicting the atomic weapons of the future. While often upstaged by various rays and beams, atomic blast weapons and bombs appear again and again in stories written both under his own name and under his pseudonym, “Don A. Stuart.” Sometimes the atomic weapons are capable of ending civilization, or even obliterating the human race, but ultimately they prove in almost every case to be a means of liberation.

Evidently unaware of the wartime ban, Campbell published in May 1941 a story with a more alarmist view, Robert A. Heinlein’s “Solution Unsatisfactory,” which came very close to describing the Manhattan Project itself: “Someone in the United States government had realized the terrific potentialities of uranium 235 quite early, and, as far back as the summer of 1940, had rounded up every atomic research man in the country and sworn them to silence.” Heinlein overestimated the difficulty of controlling an atomic explosion, so that what his scientists develop by 1945 is not an atomic bomb, but radioactive dust, which they drop with devastating consequences on Berlin.

Heinlein’s technical errors are unimportant. More significantly, he understood that atomic weapons research could not be kept a secret, and that America’s nuclear monopoly would be unlikely to create international stability unless it imposed a new world order. Accordingly, the President issues a peace proclamation, that, “divested of its diplomatic surplusage,” says, “The United States is prepared to defeat any power, or combination of powers, in jig time. Accordingly, we are outlawing war and are calling on every nation to disarm completely at once. In other words, ‘Throw down your guns, boys; we’ve got the drop on you!’ ”

Unfortunately, the scientists of the USSR—in the story dubbed the “Eurasian Union”—have also discovered the uses of atomic dust, and the result is the devastating Four-Days War. (If Heinlein’s understanding had been more widely shared by his countrymen, the U.S. might have been spared the atom spy hysteria of the postwar era in which politicians seemed to think that the secrets of fission could be patented and kept secret.) In the war the enemy is destroyed, but power is seized by the colonel who conceived of using the radioactive dust in the first place. The world is now at peace, but it has become a vast dictatorship; hence the story’s title.

Comic books do not come under the purview of the present study, but it is interesting to note that the July, 1942 issue of Bill Barnes: America’s Air Ace, published by Street & Smith, featured a lead story titled “BILL BARNES WIPES THE JAPS OFF THE MAPS!!!

The story, probably written by Earl and/or Otto Binder and illustrated by their brother Jack, details a project to design a plausible U-235 bomb with highly implausible effects: dropping it into a Japanese harbor triggers earthquakes and an ensuing tsunami that sink the entire nation into the sea in a most spectacular fashion. It’s a delirious fantasy of genocide against the Japanese, mostly presented as a dry technical lecture on the project of building and delivering the bomb. The story is remarkable being more technically sophisticated than any preceding one, and one assumes it must have slipped unnoticed past the FBI.

In May 1942 a story entitled “The Incredible Slingshot Bombs” by Robert Moore Williams appeared in Amazing Stories. A retarded boy nicknamed “Tommy Sonofagun” stumbles through a time warp created by a high- tension line tower into a factory which makes pebble-sized atomic bombs; bringing some of them back to his own time, he creates havoc with his slingshot. He is blown up on a return trip when he stumbles with his pockets full of the miniature bombs. This story is notable mainly because of the reaction of a pair of Russian critics, Viktor Bokhovitinov and Vassilij Zakhartchenko, who were doing an article on American science fiction for the Literaturnaya Gazyeta (“The World of Nightmare Fantasies,” March 23, 1948, translated and reprinted in Astounding, June 1949): “A hooligan with an atomic slingshot, isn’t this the true symbol of modern imperialism?” The authors failed to note the pre-Hiroshima date of the story. In retranslation, the title became “The Incredible Pebbles.”

So long as the Manhattan Project security remained in force, stories of atomic doom remained rare. Another notable exception is Lester del Rey’s Nerves (originally in Astounding, September 1942; expanded, New York: Ballantine, 1956), which describes a near-disaster in a malfunctioning atomic power plant which threatens to destroy several states. The scientists who keep the true extent of the danger secret from the public are depicted as heroes whose titanic efforts preserve the future of atomic energy by preventing the unscientific hysteria which would inevitably result were the nature of the threat to become generally known.

Another and much more fantastic atomic plant disaster story was Malcolm Jameson’s “The Giant Atom,” in which a device resembling a cyclotron creates an ever-growing atom which threatens to consume the entire planet. Published in Startling Stories in 1943, it was reprinted posthumously after Hiroshima and Nagasaki under the opportunistic title Atomic Bomb, although Jameson’s variation on the Frankenstein’s monster theme bears little relationship to the new weapon. Heinlein’s “Solution Unsatisfactory” demonstrates clearly that during the early 1940s anyone possessing a more than casual familiarity with the material published on atomic science before the imposition of censorship could extrapolate the possibilities more accurately than Jameson had.

A crisis of sorts was reached in the publication of pre-Hiroshima atomic war fiction with the appearance in Astounding, March 1944, of Cleve Cartmill’s “Deadline,” containing a description of an atomic bomb accurate enough to cause agents from the Army Counter-Intelligence Corps to call on both Cartmill and editor Campbell. (This story has been told many times with little variation. See, for instance, H. Bruce Franklin, Countdown to Midnight [New York: DAW, 1984], 15-16; but the definitive version would seem to be Albert I. Berger’s, in The Magic That Works: John W. Campbell and the American Response to Technology, San Bernardino, Calif.: Borgo Press, 1993. Campbell claimed that he argued with the government agents that his readers were so used to reading stories involving atomic science that if he were to ban such tales from Astounding in the future they would become conspicuous by their absence. In February of 1945, the magazine published “The Piper’s Son”—the first of Henry Kuttner’s “Baldy” tales, later collected as Mutant— depicting telepathic mutants whose powers are the result of radiation from an atomic war. One can hardly avoid the conclusion that Campbell was preparing himself a reputation as a prophet as he continued to publish Kuttner’s sequels in June and July. The fourth tale, “Beggars in Velvet,” undoubtedly also written before Hiroshima, was published in December in the same issue with an editorial by Campbell hailing the advent of the atomic age.

Kuttner’s stories hardly posed a threat to national security: the war was placed in the distant past, and its effects, though they were later to become commonplace in fiction, were thoroughly fantastic. Campbell was treading on thinner ice in publishing Robert Abernathy’s “When the Rockets Come” in March 1945. It depicts the atomic bomb as a horrifying weapon whose effects expose its users as morally bankrupt. Abernathy’s story anticipated the liberal reaction to the bomb which would be fully developed in fiction only years later.

In Fritz Leiber’s “Destiny Times Three” (Astounding, March, April 1945), Heinlein’s fears that the new technology may be incompatible with democratic government are reflected as “subtropic” weapons are developed on three alternate versions of Earth. On one world the knowledge is public property; on another an attempt is made to suppress it; and on a third it is monopolized by a dictatorship. The dictatorship invades the other two. Just as America was reaching the pinnacle of its power in the world, these science fiction writers were warning that the new atomic age was as likely to prove a disaster as a triumph. Their warnings went unnoticed by the general public, of course, and were probably unheeded even by most seasoned science fiction fans, jaded by decades of stories of planet-busting beams and rays depicted with casual bravado.

Author Philip Wylie, not fortunate enough to be working for the privileged Campbell, found that when he wrote a story depicting a Nazi conspiracy to rule the world through atomic bombs he could not get it published. According to records in agent Harold Ober’s files, Wylie submitted “The Paradise Crater” to him on January 13, 1944; Blue Book, a popular men’s fiction magazine, bought the story, then canceled its publication. A note dated July 3, 1945 explains the cancellation as prompted by security considerations: “War Dept. objects to the use of this. President Conant of Harvard is working on something similar. He promised not to offer to any magazine. Cancel sale.” (James Conant was chairman of the National Defense Research Committee and very much a part of the Manhattan Project. The source of the quote is a letter from Alice Miller of Harold Ober Associates.) According to H. Bruce Franklin, Wylie was placed under house arrest and even threatened with death for his indiscretion (see Countdown to Midnight, p. 15). A month later, the magazine repurchased the story, and a note was added to the file reading, “Atomic bomb released on Japan Aug. 6, 1945.” So Blue Book accomplished the coup of publishing the first atomic bomb story after Hiroshima even though it had been written over a year and a half before. Thus inadvertently began Wylie’s long collaboration with the government’s nuclear weapons planners which was to result in four short stories and three novels relating to nuclear war.

“The Paradise Crater” is an unexceptional counterespionage story in which the hero sabotages the Nazi villains’ store of atomic bombs. An enormous explosion results: flames shoot forty thousand feet into the air; an earthquake wreaks havoc throughout much of the western United States and Canada; a tidal wave roars west from the shores of California and inundates thousands of “Japanese savages on distant Nippon” (the defeated Asian enemy having evidently reverted to barbarism). The mountain within which the bombs were built becomes a crater two miles deep and thirty across. Ever since writers began to grasp the significance of Einstein’s E = mc2, they had been enthusiastically predicting that a cupful of coal could power an entire city. It is not surprising that Wylie supposed that the detonation of a large number of nuclear weapons would create a cataclysm.

As we have seen, the tendency to think of atomic weapons in apocalyptic terms existed even well before the first one was detonated; it has persisted ever since, although this is not a universal pattern, nor even the dominant one. The earliest reactions to use of the bomb on Japan were fraught with ambivalence. For example, Wylie’s first post-bomb article, published in Collier’s,September 29, 1945, was entitled “Deliverance or Doom?” The first published fictional response to Hiroshima was a brief sketch written by Theodore Sturgeon and entitled “August Sixth 1945,” which appeared in the letters column of the December issue of Astounding. According to a personal conversation with the author, it had been intended as a regular submission, and Sturgeon remained to the end of his life disgruntled that Campbell avoided paying him for the piece by treating it as mere correspondence. It encapsulates and gives classic expression to the science fiction community’s ambivalent reaction to the bomb: self-congratulation on having predicted the astonishing new technology, mixed with apprehension about the threat it posed to civilization. Man, wrote Sturgeon, “knows—he learned on August 6, 1945, that he alone is big enough to kill himself, or to live forever.” Atomic science threatens universal extinction, but it also holds out the promise of immortality.

Albert I. Berger has shown how widespread was the self-congratulatory mood among science fiction writers at that time in an important article, “The Triumph of Prophecy: Science Fiction and Nuclear Power in the Post-Hiroshima Period.” (Science-Fiction Studies 3 [1976]: 143-50). The jubilation with which so many writers greeted the new era matched the general American euphoria over the defeat of Japan. Brian Aldiss, who was to write one of the most moving accounts of the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust in his 1964 nuclear accident novel Greybeard, recalls with what relief he and his fellow soldiers poised to invade the islands greeted the news of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (personal conversation with author). The generally optimistic mood of the popular press is reflected in an anthology hastily assembled by Pocket Books in August of 1945, The Atomic Age Opens. The cover blurb conveys the same message as Sturgeon’s little sketch: “THE END OR THE BEGINNING? When the United States Army Air Forces dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, it meant the end of Japan as a war-making power—and the beginning of a new age. For, with this newly-released force, man can destroy himself or create a world rich and prosperous beyond all previous dreams.”

Campbell immediately began to publish editorials about the wonders of the atomic age. The following year Pat Frank—later more well known for his sobering account of atomic war, Alas Babylon—reduced the threat of universal sterilization through radiation to a joke in his best-selling Mr. Adam. In this work, a nuclear accident leaves only one man fertile, and he is pursued by millions of desperate, would-be mothers. At about the same time, Captain Walter Karig of the U.S. Naval Reserves produced a little pamphlet partly aimed at arguing for the continuing importance of the navy in the atomic era, but which provided his sailors with all manner of Buck Rogers gimmickry suddenly made plausible by the new technology. A. E. Van Vogt, like Kuttner before him, seized on the notion of war-induced radiation creating superhuman traits in his series of stories begun in 1946 and later collected as Empire of the Atom. Arthur C. Clarke treated the invention of the bomb whimsically, as an example of human feistiness and gumption, in “Loophole” (Astounding, April 1946). Henry Kuttner’s “Rain Check” (Astounding, July 1946) was hardly more serious.

Outside of science fiction, the bomb was greeted with a mixture of exhilaration and alarm which led to an intense discussion of its significance in the first years following the war (an interest which was not to be maintained for long). Yet, although some Americans and Britishers viewed the dawning of the atomic age sanguinely, and although the major outlet for fiction on atomic themes was tightly controlled by John Campbell, who not only strongly favored science and technology but also insisted on a generally optimistic mood in the works he published, plenty of stories in a grimmer mood found their way into print in 1946. New Yorker writer Roger Angell expressed his disgust with the military’s infatuation with the bomb in “Some Pigs in Sailor Suits.” Herman Hagedorn, author of popular boys’ books and jingoistic follower of the precepts of the Moral Re-Armament Movement, was appalled at the devastation wrought at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He created a book-length denunciation in verse of America’s use of the bomb as a crime against humanity and a sin against God, a volume popular enough to go through many printings and two editions (The Bomb that Fell on America). Science writer Louis Nicot Ridenour warned of atomic Armageddon in the pages of Fortune magazine (“Pilot Lights of the Apocalypse”), as did Ray Bradbury in Planet Stories (“The Million-Year Picnic”), and Philip Wylie in Collier’s (“Blunder”). Isolated, unknown authors were stirred to issue warnings here and there (Benjamin Belove in America, F. Horace Rose in England). Will Jenkins dedicated his cautionary Murder of the U.S.A. to John Campbell, whose March 1946 editorial may well have suggested the idea for the novel, although he avoided using his science fiction pseudonym (“Murray Leinster”) and published the novel first in Argosy, not in Astounding. And Campbell himself occasionally published cautionary (or, to use the more vivid science fiction term, “awful warning”) atomic war stories during 1946, by Paul Carter, A. Bertram Chandler, Chan Davis, and Theodore Sturgeon. The mood of euphoria which dominated so much writing about the atomic age was based in large measure on America’s monopoly of that power. These writers, whose business was prognostication and who knew only too well that scientific secrets cannot be long preserved, quickly realized that the bomb posed as much of a threat to its inventors as to their enemies.

During 1947 Astounding overwhelmingly dominated the publishing of nuclear war fiction with over a dozen stories, many of them awful warnings sharply in contrast with Campbell’s generally optimistic editorial stance. Poul Anderson’s first published story, “Tomorrow’s Children,” written jointly with F. N. Waldrop, took a less sanguine view of radiation-induced birth defects than preceding stories like those of Kuttner. The best known story published that year was Theodore Sturgeon’s “Thunder and Roses,” which—despite the fact that most of its literary merit resides in its title—remains a striking argument against the theory of nuclear deterrence.

But Campbell’s taste reasserted itself forcefully in the following year, in which the number of atomic war stories in Astounding dropped by three quarters and only one (Judith Merril’s memorable “That Only a Mother”) could be considered an awful warning. Despite this fact, a correspondent complained in the September 1948 issue of the excessive number of nuclear war stories appearing in the magazine. Campbell reassured him and other concerned readers: “We have specified to our authors that the ‘atomic doom’ stories are not wanted….”

Despite this announced change in policy, Campbell published some “atomic doom” stories in 1949 (Alfred Coppel, “Secret Weapon”; Kris Neville, “Cold War”) and succeeding years, but most of the atomic war tales in Astounding were either frivolous (like Van Vogt’s continuing “Empire of the Atom” series) or absurdly upbeat. An atomic war story perfectly reflecting Campbellian optimism—though it departs from the realistic style which Campbell preferred—is A. E. Van Vogt’s “Resurrection” (published as “The Monster” in August 1948). When creatures from another world investigating the cause of Earth’s destruction resurrect a man in order to question him, he uses a nuclear device to battle them in an atomic duel from which he emerges triumphant. The resuscitated hero will use the technology of the defeated aliens to revive and grant immortality to the entire human race. Lest the preceding holocaust raise any doubts about the goodness of human nature, it is strongly hinted that Earth had been devastated not by people but by the ancestors of these very aliens.

Fredric Brown’s 1949 story “Letter to a Phoenix” also matched Campbell’s philosophy, mixing positivism with the power of positive thinking. Brown’s protagonist is made nigh-immortal by exposure to bomb radiation and thus can report that the holocausts which periodically almost annihilate the human race are actually necessary to perpetuate the species, which—without this invigorating tonic—would die out like every other race in the universe.

Henry Kuttner’s 1947 Astounding story, “Tomorrow and Tomorrow,” similarly argued that atomic war might prove a fine method of birth control and stimulate scientific research, creating a utopia. Irrelevance could go no further, and the magazine soon almost ceased publishing atomic war stories altogether, with occasional exceptions reminiscent of the immediate postwar period (Walter M. Miller, “Dumb Waiter” [1952]; Morton Klass, “In the Beginning” [1954]). The 1951 Twentieth-Century Fox muscular disarmament fable, The Day the Earth Stood Still, was based on a pre-atomic age Astounding story (“Farewell to the Master” by Harry Bates, October 1940), but the original tale entirely lacked the antiwar message of the film. The film-makers would have been hard pressed to find a real anti-nuclear war story in the fifties version of the magazine. The days when Astounding had dominated nuclear war fiction were over.

The magazine itself went into a steep decline in the early fifties as it faced stiff competition from two new competitors, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Galaxy. Atomic doom stories by authors such as Damon Knight, Cyril M. Kornbluth, James Blish, and Fritz Leiber, which might have appeared earlier in Astounding, were published in the new magazines. Although Campbell had published the early work of Walter M. Miller, Jr., the stories which were later to become the first widely known science fiction treatment of the atomic war theme, A Canticle for Leibowitz, appeared instead in Fantasy and Science Fiction (1955-57). But Campbell’s refusal to adopt a negative tone about the danger of nuclear war meant that superior stories appeared even in pulps ranked far inferior to Astounding in its glory days, like Future Science Fiction (H. Beam Piper’s “Flight from Tomorrow,” September, October, 1950) and Thrilling Wonder Stories (Fritz Leiber’s “The Foxholes of Mars,” June 1952).

Outside of science fiction, novelists and short story writers were slow to respond to Hiroshima. Aside from Wylie, who maintained a connection for many years with science fiction, the only generally well known author to write an atomic war novel by 1948 was Aldous Huxley, whose Ape and Essence was more of a restatement of the anti-utopian themes of Brave New World than a serious meditation on the probable consequences of a future holocaust. He did grasp the genetic danger, and remains one of the few writers to treat seriously the problems of radioactive soil for agriculture. In fact, few novels depicting nuclear war either outside or inside of science fiction were published before 1950. Those that were not well known or not widely reviewed or sold. Some of the reluctance of authors to explore the new theme may be attributed to war- weariness. In the five years after Hiroshima, not much conventional war fiction was published either. Of course, George Orwell’s 1984 (1949) uses atomic war as part of its background, but nuclear weapons play such a minor role in the novel that most readers have probably forgotten that he touched on the subject at all.

However, during this same period Ray Bradbury was writing a series of stories which would appear knitted together in book form in 1950 and become for many years (until Shute’s On the Beach [1957]) the best known fictional work dealing with nuclear war: The Martian Chronicles. Indeed, it was for over a decade the best- known piece of modern science fiction writing. Although the immense success of Bradbury’s book can be attributed mostly to the sensuous exoticism of his Martian setting and characters, the book is significant for the political development it marked. The Martian Chronicle. turns its back on the postwar vision of the American Century. It deplores our crass commercialism, reminds readers of the nation’s crimes against the Indians and blacks, and battles against the forces of censorship, albeit in a distinctly bizarre fashion, in the tale entitled “Usher II.” No modern writer is more typically American in his themes and attitudes than Bradbury; yet repeatedly his fiction hints at or clearly depicts the monstrous crimes that lurk beneath the Norman Rockwell exteriors of his protagonists.

The Martian Chronicles is the story of humanity which is punished for its genocidal deeds by committing genocide on itself. Having killed off most of the Indians, having driven desperate blacks to flee the lynch-law South for Mars, and having contemptuously—almost without noticing—annihilated the wise, gentle Martians, humanity destroys itself in an atomic holocaust which is one last act of typical, unexplained stupidity. It is not necessary to explain why nuclear war consumes the Earth: it is the logical consequence of the parochialism, bigotry, and greed which are displayed in the earlier chapters.

The book concludes on a muted note of hope as the human race survives in two families who have fled to Mars. In Bradbury, any hope for the future lies not in society at large, but in the decency of individuals. This story, “The Million-Year Picnic,” had been his first published response to Hiroshima, and it comes close to condemning humanity in toto. So anxious is the protagonist to eradicate the past that he resorts to censorship, burning various papers and volumes in a way that clashes curiously with the theme of “Usher II,” and even more with Bradbury’s passionate denunciation of book-burning, Fahrenheit 451 (earliest version, 1951). Ironically, book-burning is the solution to the failure of civilization caused by nuclear war in The Martian Chronicles whereas a nuclear war ends the tyranny which instituted book-burning in Fahrenheit 451.

     It is inconceivable that John Campbell could have published “The Million-Year Picnic,” even if Bradbury had offered it to him. In fact it is surprising to find such a work widely read and appreciated by a nation which we have been told was undergoing The Great Celebration. But even in the early fifties, there were plenty of Americans who abstained from the nation’s love affair with itself, and a disproportionate number of them were science fiction fans.

The reasons for this phenomenon are not difficult to discover. Since the thirties, science fiction writers had encouraged their readers to think of themselves as superior beings like the mutant telepaths in A. E. Van Vogt’s Slan (Astounding, September, October, December 1940) or Henry Kuttner’s “Baldy” stories. When homo superior emerged in the world of science fiction, he was almost always more sympathetic than the ordinary humans who formed bigoted mobs bent on his destruction. Undoubtedly such stories had strong appeal for the largely adolescent male readership of bookish social misfits who purchased much of the science fiction of the forties and fifties, and who exercised a powerful influence over its content through their highly organized and articulate fan organizations, publications, and conventions. The evidence of published accounts of fandom clearly points to a profound sense of alienation from American mass culture and a fervent belief that the reading of science fiction provided a superiority often experienced with religious intensity. The cult-like of nature of American science fiction cut it off from a wider audience for decades, but in the early fifties it provided a haven for heretical and potentially threatening writings like Bradbury’s.

The traditional formula for science fiction had been to pose a problem and find a technical development which would solve it. In the early 1950s, the formula for many Galaxy and Fantasy and Science Fiction stories was to posit a technical development and discover what could go wrong with it. Atomic war stories with a distinctly jaundiced cast to them poured forth: Fritz Leiber’s “Coming Attraction” and “A Bad Day for Sales,” Damon Knight’s “World Without Children,” Cyril M. Kornbluth’s “With These Hands,” Ward Moore’s “Flying Dutchman” and “Lot,” Wilson Tucker’s The Long Loud Silence, Ray Bradbury’s “The Garbage Collector,” Philip K. Dick’s “The Defenders” and “Second Variety,” and James Gunn’s “The Boy with Five Fingers.” So powerful was the trend that editor H. L. Gold complained in the January 1952 issue of Galaxy, “Over 90% of stories submitted still nag away at atomic, hydrogen and bacteriological war, the post-atomic world, reversion to barbarism, mutant children killed because they have only ten toes and fingers instead of twelve…. Look, fellers, the end isn’t here yet.”

Meanwhile most American writers were ignoring the entire subject. There were two principal reasons for this fact. One was that the ghettoization of science fiction in the United States tended to prevent mainstream authors from writing stories set in the future. The other was that most Americans feared communism far more than the bomb, and were not prone to criticize the maintenance of a nuclear balance of terror which seemed to favor the West. Some even urged a preventative war, a first strike in which America’s God-given might would crush the evil Soviet empire, as in the hypocritically titled October 27, 1951 issue of Collier’s magazine, “Preview of the War We Do Not Want.”

In England the situation was very different. Since long before the days of H. G. Wells, British writers had felt free to address their tales of times to come to a general audience with an expectation of being well received. In addition, although Britain had shared in the Allied victory and was led by Churchill, a formidable voice in the cold war, its people had personally experienced the effects of Nazi bombs and rockets and had seen large areas of their most important cities laid waste by them.

In addition, whereas the bulk of the early American nuclear war fiction appeared in small-circulation magazines, most of the British fiction was published as novels which were accessible to a wider and more varied audience. Much of their writing was mawkish in tone and scientifically ludicrous, but the British authors conveyed a sense of terror and despair usually lacking in the works of their transatlantic colleagues who were often bent on demonstrating that the impending holocaust could be survived, averted, or even turned to profit. In 1948 alone George Borodin’s The Spurious Sun, Roald Dahl’s Sometime Never, J. Jefferson Farjeon’s Death of a World, and Pelham Groom’s The Purple Twilight were published in Britain. The output of British nuclear war fiction remained for many years spasmodic and idiosyncratic. It did not sort itself readily into identifiable genres, as did that of the Americans, and it did not form a tradition, so that each author seems to be unaware that he or she has any predecessors.

On both sides of the Atlantic the publication of nuclear war fiction remained at a very low level (except for the anomaly of 1947 created by John Campbell’s temporary enthusiasm) until 1952. The Russians had tested their first bomb in 1949, creating in this country a hysterical search for the villains who had sold them our atomic secrets. The mania for finding spies everywhere is reflected in Judith Merril’s outstanding 1950 novel, Shadow on the Hearth, in which—although fifth columnists are responsible for aiding the Russians to home in on American targets—the blind anti-communism of the general public deprives the nation of the aid of a suspect but brilliant scientist: a striking prognostication of the fate of J. Robert Oppenheimer three years later. In 1950 Julius Rosenberg was arrested as well, but the search for someone to blame diverted attention from the danger posed by the weapons themselves.

It was the explosion of the first American thermonuclear device in November of 1952 and of the first Russian hydrogen bomb a year later, obviously the product of independent research not inferior to our own, which reawakened public concern. Whereas some public officials like Bernard Baruch had spoken of the atomic bomb in apocalyptic terms immediately after Hiroshima, the general public seemed to be unable to comprehend the magnitude of the destructive potential it represented. (See Paul Boyer, By the Bomb’s Early Light: American Thought and Culture at the Dawn of the Atomic Age [New York: Pantheon, 1985], 54). If the average reader happened upon one of the narratives depicting a cataclysmic atomic war, he or she probably dismissed it as wildly hyperbolic. This judgment might not have been too far wrong, considering that a writer as sober as Philip Wylie was depicting a chain reaction capable of consuming in a flash both Earth and Moon (in “Blunder” [1946]). But the H-bomb had a somewhat different effect on the public than had the A-bomb. Whereas the threat posed by the latter had been somewhat obscured by its role in ending World War II, the new weapon was developed by both East and West during a period of extreme tension highlighted by the ongoing Korean War and by the appointment of John Foster Dulles to the post of U.S. secretary of state. Dulles developed the doctrine of “massive retaliation” and harbored fantasies of “rolling back” the Russians from Eastern Europe. Despite the fact that fans and editors alike had complained that nuclear war was an exhausted theme, 1953 proved a record

year for science fiction dealing with the subject. In Britain, John Wyndham reflected the tensions of the time in The Kraken Wakes, in which the Americans and Russians almost fail to defeat invading tentacled sea monsters because each is convinced their predations are the work of the other side.

The next year another event marked the decisive point in turning public attention to the danger of atomic war. On March 1, 1954, the Bravo H-bomb test near the Marshall Islands fatally contaminated sailors aboard a Japanese fishing vessel known as the Lucky Dragon. That their citizens—now our allies—should once more be victims of American radioactive fallout created an uproar which destroyed forever the conspiracy of silence which had made the topic taboo in postwar Japan. In the West, people finally realized that even when one was not exposed to the direct effects of the bomb, its fallout could be deadly.

The year 1954 had provided an abundance of other news stories calculated to attract the attention of the public to atomic warfare. After long delays, negotiations about the uses of atomic power began seriously, although no agreement was to be reached for four more years. A new version of the Atomic Energy Act was passed. On March 31 Atomic Energy Commission Chair Lewis Strauss aroused a furor by commenting to the press that a single bomb could destroy any city on Earth. Robert Oppenheimer’s security clearance was removed in April, and interest in the atomic spy theme was revived. On September 24, Aikichi Kuboyama, fisherman, died of the radiation disease to which he had fallen victim on the Lucky Dragon during the Bravo H- Bomb test.

Interest was sustained by related events the next year. On January 31, 1955, the Russians modified their long-held position disparaging the effectiveness of atomic bombs when they pointed out that only a few weapons would be needed to destroy crucial Western centers of power. The United States continued to test bombs in Nevada that spring. In March, Dulles and Eisenhower threatened the Communist Chinese with tactical nuclear weapons if they should attempt to seize the islands of Quemoy and Matsu, although Leo Szilard had warned the previous month that such an act would likely precipitate a devastating holocaust in which both sides would be destroyed. And Federal Civil Defense Administrator Val Peterson speculated about the possibility of creating a cobalt doomsday bomb, a device which was to find a prominent place in much later fiction (probably as much because of its repeated discussion by Herman Kahn as for any other reason). In Great Britain the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, spearheaded by philosopher Bertrand Russell, was claiming headlines. Russell wrote a number of fictional sketches on the theme of atomic war about this time, although some of them remained unpublished until after his death. At no time until the Cuban missile crisis did the world seem poised so close to the brink of nuclear war.

The result of all this activity and concern was the publication in 1955 of a large number of novels depicting atomic war or its aftermath, including such notable works as Leigh Brackett’s The Long Tomorrow, C. M. Kornbluth’s Not This August, John Wyndham’s The Chysalids, and the first part of Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s A Canticle for Leibowitz. The nuclear war novel had come of age. Magazine editors may have wearied of the subject, but book publishers were becoming interested and would dominate the genre henceforth. In no year before had so many novels been published depicting nuclear war.

During the next year’s presidential campaign, Democratic candidate Adlai stevenson called for an atomic test ban, with considerable initial support from the public. The long debate which followed kept public attention focused on the bomb, but to some extent the test-ban debate was a distraction which directed attention away from any attempt to deal with the greater danger of nuclear war itself. Even in the midst of this debate, authors were not able to sustain readers’ interest in nuclear war: 1956 marked a low point in the publication of such fiction, although two mainstream works attracted some attention—Martin Caidin’s The Long Night and Herman Wouk’s The Lomokome Papers.

Though Eisenhower had abandoned the notion of beginning negotiations for a test ban treaty when the Russians publicly supported Stevenson’s proposals—thus laying the administration open to the possibility of charges that it was not being sufficiently anti-Communist—the debate continued, as did the test. America exploded no fewer than twenty-four bombs in Nevada in 1957. In April, Khruschev boasted that the Russians possessed a superbomb capable of melting the polar icecap. But the impact of all of this was slight compared to the shock created by the Russian launching of the world’s first satellite, Sputnik 1, on October 4. Clearly, if the USSR had rockets good enough to place a satellite in orbit, they were a serious threat to our security. When they followed up their fear by launching even heavier satellites, the effect was shattering.

For the first time Americans felt themselves to be in an inferior position, although in fact their atomic arsenal still enormously outweighed that of the Soviet Union. Russian proposals for some kind of treaty began to look more attractive. Not much nuclear war fiction of significance was published in English that year (although Agawa Hiroyuki’s important Devil’s Heritage was published in Japan). In fact there was just one novel which was widely read, and it was to prove the most influential work of its kind for the next quarter of a century and the only one most people ever read: Nevil Shute’s On the Beach.

Shute used an Australian perspective ideally situated to address the fears about fallout which had been mounting since 1954. As his novel begins, the atomic war is already over. The powerful effect which this slickly written tale had on its readers can be attributed to its insistence on the relentless, inescapable advance of the zone of radioactivity, removing all trace of human life from latitude after latitude on its way south. Inferior to the 1959 film based on it, the novel is unconvincing in its plot, its characters are stereotypes (too many of them deny the inevitable in the same way), and the love story is mawkish. But what makes On the Beach nevertheless one of the most compelling accounts of nuclear war ever written is its almost unique insistence that everyone—without exception—is going to die. Shute directly addresses the most primal fears of the human race, which has spent most of its history denying or compensating for the fact of personal death, and does so with a relentlessness which the complex technique of a more sophisticated writer might have muted. For once, there are no distractions: no invading aliens, no super-fallout shelters to protect the protagonists, no struggle back from a dreadful but exciting postwar barbarism. There are simply a man and a woman reaching the agonizing decision to kill their only child in its crib and commit suicide as the rest of the human race expires around them.

The number of novels and stories in which everyone dies in a nuclear war is negligible. It is quite irrelevant that the sort of universal extinction through fallout which Shute depicts is almost impossible (indeed, most critics have been so quick to denounce his hypothesis that they have failed to note that he specifies that both sides made extensive use of doomsday-style cobalt weapons, though he provides no rationale for this insane act). Nor does it matter that the recently developed theories of nuclear winter make Shute’s pessimism seem somewhat more realistic. What gives the novel its significance is the fact that it forced the general public to focus on atomic war as a threat to personal existence at a time when there was widespread concern about fallout from testing. The experience was a harrowing one for many readers, and most of them seem to have considered it sufficient. Although many nuclear war novels superior to Shute’s were to be published in succeeding years, none of them would be nearly as widely read. Its closest competitor was Pat Frank’s Alas, Babylon in 1959, which was considered shocking in its day but which is remarkable mainly for the good fortune of its principal characters who survive nicely with only a minimum of preparation on the bare fringes of a distantly depicted holocaust.

The worldwide success of On the Beach finally caught the attention of mainstream writers who began to turn out holocaust novels, innocent of the fact that the theme was considered exhausted by many in the science fiction community. The year 1958 saw the publication of such works as Peter Bryant’s Two Hours to Doom (later to be transformed into Dr. Strangelove), Helen Clarkson’s The Last Day, and Mervyn Jones’s On the Last Day. Although interest in the topic began to revive in the science fiction magazines as well, it was no longer the property of the science fiction community. In 1959 mainstream realistic works written in a serious vein dominated the field. John Brunner, who wrote mostly science fiction and who was then involved in British bomb protest activities, suggested in his political novel, The Brink, that Western paranoia about the Russians was more hazardous to world peace than the Russians themselves. In Britain, where left-wing politics were not absolutely beyond the pale, the novel could be marketed; but it is unique among his many books in never having been published in the United States.

During 1959 the history of the bomb was explored in Pearl S. Buck’s fictional account of the Manhattan Project, Command the Morning. Edita Morris, like Brunner an anti-bomb activist, movingly depicted the impact of the bomb from the Japanese point of view in The Flowers of Hiroshima. Hans Hellmut Kirst’s best-selling The Seventh Day made the escalation of a war over Germany all too credible. And in England, Mordecai Roshwald’s Level 7 made the death of the human race even more compelling than had Shute; the novel does not strive for scientific credibility but succeeds as a parable.

This was also the year in which the most nuclear war fiction of high quality appeared until 1984. It also marked the definitive end of the illusion fostered for so long in the science fiction community that the theme had been exhausted. The nuclear war science fiction of the early 1960s rose to new heights as writers took up the challenge signified by the achievements of authors in 1959, and as the field as a whole matured with the advent of a new generation of writers bent on wrenching science fiction out of the pulp ghetto. Along with a large number of inconsequential works, some important ones appeared, including Edgar Pangborn’s Davy (1962) and Philip K. Dick’s Dr. Bloodmoney; or, How We Got Along After the Bomb (1965). Science fiction writers may have temporarily lost their ascendancy in the nuclear war novel in the late 1950s, but they reclaimed it in the sixties and have retained it ever since.

The year 1960, marked by the U-2 incident and the Sino-Soviet split, produced few notable works other than Alfred Coppel’s Dark December (one of the best nuclear war novels ever published) and H. A. Van Mierlo’s By Then Mankind Ceased to Exist (probably the worst). The next year was dominated by discussion of fallout shelters in the public press, as the Russians built the Berlin Wall and resumed testing in the atmosphere, and the United States undertook its first major shelter program. Shelters both natural and artificial are prominent in the fiction published in 1961 and 1962, in works like Gina Berriault’s The Descent (New York: Atheneum), a marvelous satire on the entire civil defense craze; Daniel F. Galouye’s moving Dark Universe, in which refugees have lived in the dark underground for so many generations that they have forgotten what light is; James White’s Second Ending, with its fantastic automated hospital which preserves the single specimen from which the human race will be recreated; Robert Moore Williams’s absurd The Day They H-Bombed Los Angeles, in which ordinary folks mingle with movie stars in Los Angeles fallout shelters; and George H. Smith’s The Coming of the Rats. Novels set in various sorts of shelters had been published at intervals before this, but not in such numbers.

The Cuban missile crisis of October 1962 did not find much resonance in nuclear war fiction. After reaching the brink of a real nuclear war, most people seemed to want to forget the subject as quickly as possible; and a year later Kennedy’s assassination rendered fiction which might imply criticism of his nuclear diplomacy in bad taste. Pierre Salinger did not publish his novel loosely based on the missile crisis until nearly a decade later (On Instructions of My Government [Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1971]). Out of the considerable amount of nuclear war fiction published in 1962, the most notable literary achievement was the beginning of Edgar Pangborn’s Davy in which he created the postholocaust world in which he was to work for the rest of his life. The dangers of brinksmanship were illustrated in 1962’s best-selling Fail-Safe by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler.

The United States, Great Britain, and the USSR finally signed a treaty banning testing in the atmosphere in 1963, and there was for a time a general easing of tensions with the Soviet Union. But all during the early sixties there arose in the West an extreme paranoia about the Chinese, no longer on the leash of the Russians, who were perceived as being far more reasonable. This paranoia finds its quintessential expression in Bernard Newman’s absurd classic of Sinophobia, The Blue Ants (1962).

Now permanently established as a subgenre of science fiction, nuclear war stories and novels of merit continued to appear throughout the sixties from such authors as Ray Bradbury (“To the Chicago Abyss” [1963]), Philip K. Dick (The Penultimate Truth [1964] and Dr. Bloodmoney), Edgar Pangborn (besides Davy, mentioned above, The Judgment of Eve [1966]), Thomas M. Disch (“Casablanca” [1967]), and Harlan Ellison (“I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” [1967]), among many others. But the nuclear war science fiction of the sixties had no focus. There was no equivalent of the old Astounding (now retitled Analog and still rejecting atomic doom stories) to develop a tradition. In any case, the magazines were ceasing to play an important role in developing new themes as paperback books began to dominate the market.

The nuclear war theme flourished in the sixties at least partly because of the “New Wave” phenomenon in science fiction which involved many younger writers who were drawn to apocalyptic and anti-technological themes. They found in nuclear war the perfect expression of what disgusted them in much traditional science fiction. In the 1940s science fiction had promoted itself as prophetic and inspirational. In the 1950s it had been diagnostic and critical, but typically provided some sort of happy ending. But in the 1960s the dominant mood of much of the best writing could only be described as nihilistic. At last science fiction found a fictional voice appropriate to the nightmare of nuclear war.

As had been true since 1945, isolated individuals outside of this tradition or any other tradition passionately turned out deeply felt warnings against atomic Armageddon which went almost entirely unread. Among the better idiosyncratic sixties novels are Derek Ingrey’s absurdist Pig on a Lead (1963), Stephen Minot’s sternly intellectual anti-intellectual Chill of Dusk (1964), Virginia Fenwick’s uneven but interesting America R.l.P. (1965), and John R. Vorhies’s remarkable study of nuclear strategy and politics, Pre-Empt (1967).

Public attention was briefly captured by the antiballistic missile debate of 1969, a year which witnessed the publication of more nuclear war fiction than any other between 1965 and 1974. But throughout most of the latter sixties the U.S. was preoccupied with Black Power, psychedelia, student protest and—above all—Vietnam. Traditional nuclear war fiction seemed incongruent in this setting. Nuclear blackmail and sabotage novels proliferated, especially in Britain, for an audience that yearned for simpler days; but the younger generation which dominated the readership of science fiction and therefore of nuclear war fiction was absorbed in other pursuits. Few of the young American antiwar protesters knew of or cared about the earlier generation of ban-the-bomb protesters in the U.S. and Britain.

The protesters’ concerns were reflected in nuclear war fiction through heavy irony in 1969 in Harlan Ellison’s A Boy and His Dog and Norman Spinrad’s “The Big Flash,” but these stories were not expressions of the youth movement, merely observations on it. Authors on the Right worked out their frustrations over the Vietnam era after the youth revolt was stifled, in works such as Clive Egleton’s A Piece of Resistance (1970) and its sequels, Last Post for a Partisan (1971), and The Judas Mandate (1972), Oliver Lange’s Vandenberg (1971), Mario Pei’s “1976” (1971), Christopher Priest’s Fugue for a Darkening Island (1972), W. D. Pereira’s Aftermath 15 (1973), and General Sir John Hackett’s The Third World War: A Future History (1978).

The most dyspeptic—nay, apoplectic—of these nuclear war novels which used the holocaust to berate duped, treasonous, destructive youth is Allen Drury’s culmination of the series he began with Advise and Consent, titled The Promise of Joy (1975). In this delirious attack on the late antiwar movement, a courageous president battles almost alone against a spineless Congress, gruesomely violent pacifists, and a wildly leftist partisan press to defeat the Reds and avert the holocaust by negotiating from strength. If in the early sixties the rage of the young in revolt found its expression in nuclear war themes, the same themes were used in the seventies to express the rage they had aroused in their elders.

The outstanding achievements in science fiction during the seventies were James Blish’s The Day After Judgment ( 1971), James Tiptree, Jr.’s “The Man Who Walked Home” (1972), Edgar Pangborn’s The Company of Glory (1975) and Still I Persist in Wondering (1978), Brian Aldiss’s The Eighty-Minute Hour (1974), Suzy McKee Charnas’s Motherlines (1978), and Vonda McIntyre’s Dreamsnake (1978). It is no coincidence that half of these authors (including Tiptree, whose real name is Alice Sheldon) are women; during the seventies the women’s movement profoundly influenced science fiction. Stars like Ursula LeGuin and Joanna Russ attracted unprecedented numbers of young female readers, and many outstanding women writers began using science fiction to address the concerns of a new audience profoundly influenced by feminism. Writers like Charnas and McIntyre are part of a revisionist movement within the field which has been reshaping the postholocaust landscape along with every other element in science fiction in recent years. They have concentrated in particular on rejecting the traditional misogynistic neobarbarian fantasy, an endeavor in which they have been joined by male feminist writers like Paul O. Williams (The Pelbar Cycle [1981-85]).

Aside from right-wing thrillers and science fictional treatments of the postholocaust world, however, the last half of the seventies marked a low point in the creation of nuclear war fiction. In absolute numbers, never had so little been published since 1945. By way of an exception, one of the finest of all postholocaust novels, Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker, appeared in 1980 and sold well.

Not until protests in Europe and America over the deployment of new missiles and agitation for a weapons freeze reawakened public concern with the issue did nuclear war fiction began to revive, with works like Yorick Blumenfeld’s Jenny (1981), Raymond Briggs’s When the Wind Blows (1982), and Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka’s Warday (1984), its title suggestive of the controversial 1983 made-for-television movie The Day After. The most recent development is the proliferation of right-wing adventure novels with postholocaust settings, a trend which will be discussed in detail in our concluding chapter. Whether the current flurry of interest in the subject can be sustained remains to be seen. The year 1984 marked the all-time high point of nuclear war fiction publishing in terms of numbers of works. The past pattern has been a sharp peak of activity followed by a decline, and 1985 saw the appearance of a somewhat smaller, though still substantial, number.

This survey would be incomplete without reference to what I consider the finest novel ever published in English depicting the consequences of nuclear war, Ibuse Masuji’s Black Rain. Written in 1965 and translated from the Japanese in 1967, the historical event to which this work responds is the bombing of Hiroshima. Ibuse is a journalist who drew on the diary of an acquaintance and the memories of other survivors to recreate the experience of the hibakusha, the victims of the Hiroshima bombing. Written in an understated tone, and with a thread of subtle irony running through it, this novel is nevertheless by far the most devastating account of the effects of nuclear war ever written. The destruction, the wounds, and the effects of radiation disease are depicted in minute detail. A host of powerful images is presented: telephone poles burn like candles, lead from melted power lines has left a trail of silver droplets, a baby girl plays with her dead mother’s breasts. The main psychological reaction of the victims is shock. Some try to go on about their business as usual, absurdly attempting, for instance, to report to offices which have been vaporized. The traditional modesty of Japanese women prevents many of them from seeking medical attention, as this example highlights:

At one sundry goods store this side of Mitaki Station on the Kobe line, they had found a woman who had got in unnoticed and died in one of their closets. When the owner of the store dragged the body out, he found that the garment it was wearing was his daughter’s best summer kimono. Scandalized, he had torn the best kimono off the body, only to find that it had no underwear on underneath. She must have been burned out of her home and fled all the way there naked, yet still—being a young woman—sought something to hide her nakedness even before she sought water or food.

The vast bulk of accounts of imaginary nuclear wars pales in contrast to such touching, vivid reports of human suffering. There are a number of works containing such stories: Agawa’s Devil’s Heritage; Joy Kogawa’s Obasan (1982); Morris’s Flowers of Hiroshima and The Seeds of Hiroshima (1965); Edwin Lanham’s The Clock at 8:16 (1970); and the stories collected in Oe Kenzaburo’s The Crazy Iris and Other Stories of the Atomic Aftermath (New York: Grove, 1985). All of them are affecting, but none possesses the powerfully simple artistry of Black Rain.Nuclear war fiction has been written from the perspective of politicians who started it, of our descendants who may undergo it, and of investigating aliens from the distant stars; but the perspective which makes the experience a vivid reality is that adopted by Ibuse, of the real-life victims. Most other authors have written about nuclear war without really confronting it. They show how it can be prevented or survived, use it as a club to thrash a political foe, fantasize about it as a source of magic, revel in the disorder which follows in its wake, wield it to clear the way for a future utopia, or create through it a kind of nostalgic—albeit radioactive—pastoral.

The authors cannot be blamed entirely. Their readers have a very low tolerance for realism on this subject. If the relatively benign holocausts of Alas, Babylon and The Day After are considered shocking by their contemporary audiences, clearly not many people have been paying attention even to the facts available since August 1945. To acquaint people with the facts, all the fantasies of the future lumped together are not as valuable as Black Rain.

     In the chapters which follow, the various features of nuclear war as they have been depicted in a selected number of novels and short stories are surveyed. Because relatively few works contain thorough depictions of the course such a war, some names like Wylie’s and Clarkson’s will of necessity come up in various contexts. Their books are simply too valuable as resources to be disposed of in a single chapter. On the other hand, there are a great many interesting works discussed in the Bibliography which are nowhere mentioned in the following chapters. There was simply not space for an exhaustive treatment of all the worthy authors.

The analysis includes a discussion of the causes of nuclear war in fiction, the nature of fictional attacks and their immediate aftermath. The fourth chapter covers a variety of ways in which a fictional nuclear war is commonly depicted as performing important transformations: the complete destruction of all life; radically transformed social mores; new social systems; and the creation of new types of people and animals. The final chapter considers the political effects of nuclear war fiction and tries to draw some conclusions for the future. This volume is organized in such a way as to concentrate on the phenomenon of nuclear war as it is commonly depicted, exploring the ways in which mass consciousness is molded and reflected by the writers of popular fiction.

Go to Chapter Two

Annotated Bibliography

This chapter has been translated into Danish by Anna Polonski.


Nuclear Holocausts: Atomic War in Fiction

by Paul Brians
Preface to the First Edition

     Nuclear Holocausts is a survey of novels and stories written since 1895 and published in English which depict nuclear war or its aftermath. The earlier date marks the publication of Robert Cromie’s The Crack of Doom in the wake of the discovery of radioactivity. Although the atomic weapon is not actually used in Cromie’s novel, it is included here as a significant starting point. The bulk of these works naturally appeared after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but a sizable number appeared earlier. The admittedly arbitrary terminal date of 1984 permits inclusion of at least three years’ fiction from the period of renewed interest in nuclear disarmament in the 1980s.

Little has been published on the subject of nuclear war fiction, and the reader will find few references to secondary materials in the following pages. Books and articles on the subject which appeared before and during my research are discussed in the section entitled “Sources.” Most of these are scholarly works concerned with science fiction which have proved of use primarily by suggesting titles that needed to be investigated. Not all the works discussed in this volume are science fiction, although the majority are; but because science fiction is not a well‑defined genre, no effort has been made to segregate those works from general fiction. References to scienêe fiction generally reflect the usage of publishers and booksellers.

This study is distinguished from its predecessors by confining its scope to fiction explicitly depicting nuclear war and its aftermath. A great many works depicting the aftermath of wars not specified as nuclear have been excluded on the grounds that stories of “the future holocaust” form a genre that was well established before 1945, as the reader of I. F. Clarke’s Voices Prophesying War (1966) will discover. The fact that civilization seems to have disappeared and the Earth rendered a wasteland does not necessarily indicate that a nuclear war has taken place. Examples of such excluded works would be the novelization by John Boorman of his film Zardoz (1974), Walker Percy’s Love in the Ruins (1971), John Crowley’s Engine Summer (1979), and Harold Mead’s Bright Phoenix (1955). Sometimes authors are so vague about future wars that it is impossible to determine whether the bombs dropped were nuclear, as is the case, for instance, with Dorothy Black in her Candles in the Dark (1954). Were all the works not explicitly dealing with nuclear war included, the bibliography would have been very much longer and my commentary would necessarily have had to trace materials adequately covered in the studies by Clarke and by Warren Wagar in Terminal Visions (1982). Accounts of near wars (such as Fletcher Knebel’s The Night of Camp David [1965]) and nuclear reactor accidents (such as that depicted in Lester del Rey’s Nerves [1942]) have also generally been excluded, but there are several exceptions chosen either because their authors had also written nuclear war stories or because of their special significance. Bomb‑test accidents and nuclear blackmail plots in which the bomb is never exploded are also excluded. Partial lists of works of related interest not fully annotated in the Bibliography will be found in the Supplementary Checklists.

These restrictions may seem arbitrary, but it seemed clear that there was a need for a study exclusively of nuclear war in fiction. The topic is of such intense interest and overwhelming sign)ficance that it deserves to be treated by itself, and not—as has been done by most of my predecessors—as a subcategory of fiction depicting various other sorts of catastrophes.

Although I have attempted to provide a comprehensive guide to and analysis of the published fiction that falls within the limits described above, any study of this nature is necessarily incomplete. I would be grateful to readers bringing to my attention further works falling within these guidelines. This book is conceived of as a two‑part work consisting of five chapters of analysis followed by a bibliography with extensive annotations. Not all the works in the Bibliography are discussed in the text, and it is assumed that the reader interested in pursuing the subject in depth will read both parts. At the conclusion of select bibliographic entries are listed the page numbers on which the works are further discussed. Conventional footnotes are not used because references contained in the text to primary materials refer to the Bibliography. Some readers will miss page numbers in the references to the fiction. The decision to omit them was not taken lightly. Science fiction publishing is a highly disorderly world: the first edition of a novel is often not the standard edition; paperback editions may be followed by hardbound reprints rather than vice versa; separate editions—often under separate titles—are frequently issued in Great Britain and in the United States, and multiple issues by various publishers are commonplace. Since there is so little uniformity in the collections of libraries, page references would be only marginally useful. Chapter numbers have been cited where they may be of help.

Using fiction as a mirror of cultural attitudes toward the dangers posed by the nuclear arms race, this book aims at a better understanding of those attitudes. Nuclear war creates such anxiety in most people that they are prone to all manner of strategies of avoidance in discussing it: despair, unwarranted confidence that “the government”, or “the scientists” will take care of the problem, simple selective ignorance of the problem. To some extent, these strategies are also present in fiction, and to the extent that they are, this study tells us something about our fears and phobias. But fiction, because of its concreteness, can treat the subject in such a way that it is difficult to avoid. In addition, the creation of vivid characters and realistic settings can bring home the impact of a nuclear war in a way that is difficult for nonfiction. To this extent, fiction about nuclear war can have an admonitory effect which may be valuable in a world perpetually perched on the brink of an atomic holocaust.

The analysis begins with a historical survey of the development of the theme and proceeds to examine the phases of nuclear war as they are commonly treated in fiction. The bulk of the book is given over to the bibliography, which is intended to provide scholars, librarians, and general readers alike with ready access to a great variety of information about this body of writing. The subject index will be particularly useful for those seeking to trace various themes in these works.

A note on usage: I have followed science fiction practice in capitalizing the word “Earth” when it is used as the name of our planet. The words “nuclear” and “atomic” are used interchangeably, no distinction between them being intended. (“Atomic” was more commonly used in the forties and fifties, “nuclear” thereafter.) I was reluctant at first to use the term “holocaust” for nuclear war. It originally designated a particular form of burnt offering in ancient Hebrew worship and has, of course, been used with bitter irony to label the murder of millions by the Nazis during World War II; but the term is also well established as a label for a devastating atomic war, and I have followed that usage here.

I would like to acknowledge my indebtedness to Dr. Lois B. De Fleur, Dean of the College of Sciences and Arts of Washington State University, for providing two grants which were of great assistance in doing this study; to Dr. John Elwood, Chair of the Department of English at W.S.U., and to the Jerard Fund of the W.S.U. Department of English for additional support. Work on this project would have been dauntingly difficult had it not been for the word‑processing facilities of the W.S.U. Humanities Research Center, and the assistance of its director, Dr. Thomas Faulkner, and his assistant, Rhonda Blair. For a brief period I had the able assistance of Joy Graves, who performed several tedious tasks in connection with the organization of the bêibliography. I owe a special debt to the entire staff of the Interlibrary Loan Department of the W.S.U. Holland Library headed by Kay Kinkead, which performed Herculean labors in locating obscure novels and short stories and making them available to me. The reference librarians at Holland were also of great. help, including Paula Elliot, Pauline Lilje, Alice Spitzer, Auda Taylor, and Siegfried Vogt. Library staff member Bob Freebern also provided invaluable help.

The single greatest source of suggestions has been Bob Brown of Moye, Polley, and Brown, a Seattle bookselling firm. His extraordinary knowledge of apocalyptic fiction and his untiring efforts in securing copies of books both for myself and for Holland Library have made this book possible. Thanks to his work, the library has assembled a truly impressive collection of nuclear war fiction which will be available to future scholars. Warm thanks are due the English Department’s Library Committee, Librarian Ann Wierum, and Interim Director of Libraries Donald Bushaw for their efforts in building the Holland collection.

Several authors were kind enough to discuss their own writings with me in person or by mail, including Brian Aldiss, Poul Anderson, Ben Boom, Helen Clarkson, Hugh Hood, S. B. Hough, Judith Merril, Joe Ashby Porter, Theodore Sturgeon, George Turner, and Jack Williamson. An extraordinarily helpful contribution was made by University of Rochester doctoral candidate Martha A. Bartter, who had been working on the nuclear war fiction of the period up to 1960 and suggested many titles, particularly of short stories. Several science fiction fans and students contributed suggestions or lent me books, including Andrew Brackbill, Denver Burtenshaw, Alan Cairns, Jon Davis, Steve Fahnestalk, Joy Graves, Jo Ann Rattey, Dean Smith, and Douglas Stentz. A few books were screened by Joy Graves, my sister Cindy Richards, and Alice Spitzer. Publishers and authors’ agents proved to be a valuable source of information, including The Bodley Head, Cassell, the Chicago Daily Defender, Robert Hale, Ltd., G. K. Hall & Co., Harold Ober Associates, The New English Library, Signature magazine, and the University of lowa Press.

Many scholars have made helpful suggestions, including Neil Barron, A1bert I. Berger, Grant Burns, Mario A. Charles of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, James A. Emanuel, Rich Erlich, H. Bruce Franklin, Phil Gilbertson, Egbert Kryspin, Arthur O. Lewis, Joseph Marchesani, Sam Moskowitz, Bill O’Connor, Eric S. Rabkin, George Slusser of the library at the University of California at Riverside, Marshall Tymn, Gary K. Wolfe, and Carl Yoke. I owe a special debt to three scholars who read an earlier version of this book and made numerous helpful suggestions: Brian Aldiss, I. F. Clarke, and Alexander Hammond. None of them was in a position to check each and every reference, and the correctness of information in the book is entirely my responsibility.

The completion of this work was greatly facilitated by the patience and support of my wife, Paula Elliot, and my daughter, Megan.

Go to Chapter One



Nuclear Holocausts: Atomic War in Fiction

By Paul Brians
Professor of English, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington

This new edition of my comprehensive survey of fictional depictions in English of nuclear war and its aftermath has been revised and expanded. In particular, the bibliography has been expanded with over 450 additional entries. The chapters of historical and critical discussion are essentially unchanged.

The original edition is titled Nuclear Holocausts: Atomic War in Fiction 1895-1984 (Kent State University Press, 1987), out of print.

Table of Contents

Chapter One: The History of Nuclear War in Fiction
Chapter Two: The Causes of Nuclear War
Chapter Three: The Short-Term Consequences of Nuclear War
Chapter Four: The Long-Term Consequences of Nuclear War
Chapter Five: Avoiding Nuclear War
Annotated Bibliography [This is the heart of my research, making up by far the greater bulk of this work. I strongly recommend readers interested in this subject to explore it. Unfortunately I discovered many years after this version of the project was published that links to that material were omitted at the end of the chapters. I have now restored them.]

Supplementary Checklist
Research Sources

For a related project by me, see Nuke/Pop.

First mounted January 27, 2003.

Last revised January 5, 2015.

Science Fiction Research Bibliography

A Bibliography of Science Fiction Secondary Materials

in Holland Library, Washington State University

If you are doing research on science fiction, this bibliography is a good place to start. It is not a complete bibliography of SF research, only of that in the WSU library; and the call numbers may not match those in other libraries. It does not include works of science fiction as such.

Paul Brians is now retired, and this bibliography is no longer be updated, so it is bound to be incomplete; but it may still be useful.


Look for reference works and indexes first in the Reference Room, not in the regular stacks.

Encyclopedias and general checklists:

*Barron, Neil: Anatomy of Wonder 4: A Critical Guide to Science Fiction. (fourth edition) PN3433.8 .A63x 1995
This is among the most important standard reference works in the field, summarizing hundreds of pieces of fiction. It is especially strong on foreign SF, though this coverage was reduced in the fourth edition. Recommended especially for small libraries. The still-useful second (PN3433.5 .A6x) and third editions (HolRef PN3433.8 .A63x 1987) are also in the collection.

Bleiler, Everett F.: The Checklist of Science-Fiction and Supernatural Fiction. HolRef PN 3435 B55 1978 (replaces The Checklist of Fantastic Literature, 808.3 ZB616c)

Bleiler, Everett F. & Richard J. Bleiler. Science-Fiction: The Gernsback Years: A Complete Coverage of the Genre Magazines “Amazing,” “Astounding,” “Wonder,” and Others from 1926 through 1936. HolRef PS648.S3 B57 1998
Also available as an electronic resource for WSU users through Griffin.

Bloch, Robert N.: Bibliographie der utopischen und phantastischen literatur, 1750-1950. PT 148 1185 B5x 1984

Clarke, Ignatius Frederick: Tale of the Future: From the Beginning to the Present Day. (British) 3rd ed., PN 3448 S45c 56x (replaces 2nd edition, Z6207 P7 C48 1972)
The strong point of this survey is its coverage of early works, especially British fiction.

*Clute, John & Peter Nicholls, eds.: Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. HolRef PN3433.4 .E53 1993b
Generally considered the best of the encyclopedias. Articles on movements, themes, genres, as well as authors, etc.

Fletcher, Marilyn P. Reader’s Guide to Twentieth-Century Science Fiction. HolRef PN3433.8 R44 1989

*Gunn, James, ed. The New Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. PN 3433.4 N48 1988
Good as a supplement to Clute & Nicholls, above.

James, Edward & Farah Mendelsohn, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction. PN3377.5.S3 C36 2003

*Magill, Frank: Survey of Science Fiction Literature: Five Hundred 2,000-Word Essay-Reviews of World-Famous Science Fiction Novels with 2,500 Bibliographical References. HolRef PN3448 S45 S88
Summaries, brief discussions, and selected bibliographies make this an excellent place to begin researching a particular work. Be sure to check the supplement listed below as well.

*Magill, Frank: Survey of Science Fiction Literature: Bibliographical Supplement. HolRef PN 3448 S45 S88 Suppl

Newman, John: Future War Novels: An Annotated Bibliography of Works in English Published Since 1946. HolRef R888.W37 N43x 1984

Nicholls, Peter, ed. The Science Fiction Encyclopedia. PN3448.S45 S29 Ê
Earlier, still useful, but now somewhat dated edition of Clute and Nicholls, above. Can be checked out.

Pringle, David. The Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction: An A-Z of Science-Fiction Books by Title. HolRef PN3448.S45 P75 1995

Reginald, Robert, ed.: Contemporary Science Fiction Authors. HolRef PS 374 S35 R44
Useful background information on major authors.

Reginald, Robert, ed.: Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, A Checklist from Earlier Times to 1974. Hol Ref PS374.S35 R442x

Reginald, R. Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, 1975-1991: A Bibliography of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Fiction Books and Nonfiction Monographs. HolRef PN3448.S45 R44x 1992

Searles, Baird: A Reader’s Guide to Fantasy. PS374.F27 S43x 1982

Tuck, Donald H.: The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy. HolRef Z5917 S36 T83
Replaced by more recent encyclopedias, but still contains some useful details about editions of early works for advanced researchers.

University of California at Riverside: Dictionary Catalog of the J. Lloyd Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature. HolRef PN 3448 S45 U59x v-13

Yntema, Sharon. More than 100 Women Science Fiction Writers. PN 3433.6 Y57x 1988

*Internet Speculative Fiction DataBase

Now the standard source for identifying SF stories and novels.

Indexes to short stories:

Bowman, Ray: Bowman’s Index to the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. AP2 M2345x 1949/1983

Cole, Walter R.: A Checklist of Science Fiction Anthologies. Z5917 S36 C6 1975

Contento, William: Index to Science Fiction Anthologies and Collections. (2 vols) HolRef PS 374 S35 C6x
Great for locating in which magazines and anthologies a story has appeared. The excellent Contento indexes have now been subsumed into the online Locus Index to Science Fiction, which should be used instead whenever possible.

Durie, A. J. L.: An Index to the British Editions of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction with Cross-Reference to the Original American Edition. HolRef Z5917 S36 H35

Fletcher, Marilyn P.: Science Fiction Story Index. 2nd ed., 1950-1979, PN 3448 S45 F55x
Replaced by Contento, above; but circulates.

Halpern, Frank N.: International Classified Directory of Dealers in Science Fiction and Fantasy Books and Related Materials. Z286 F3 H34 1975
Now very dated.

NESFA: Index to the Science Fiction Magazines 1926-50. HolRef PN 3448 S45 I53x
All the NESFA indexes are now obsolete. Use Contento instead.

Parnell, Frank H. & Mike Ashley: Monthly Terrors: An Index to the Weird Fantasy Magazines Published in the United States and Great Britain. HolRef PS374.F27 P37 1985

Siemon, Frederick: Science Fiction Story Index 1950-1968. Z5917 S36 S5
Replaced by Contento, above.

Indexes to criticism and reviews:

Clareson, Thomas: Science Fiction Criticism: An Annotated Checklist. HolRef Z5917 S36 C55
This pioneering work is now outdated. Use Hall, below.

Hall, Halbert W.: Science Fiction Book Review Index 1923-1973. HolRef Z5917 S36 H35

*Hall, Halbert W.: Science Fiction and Fantasy Reference Index, 1878-1985: An International Author and Subject Index to History and Criticism PN3433.5.S35x 1987
This invaluable source, plus its supplements–listed below–is now available in an updated online version as the “Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Database“.

Hall, H. W.: Science Fiction and Fantasy Reference Index, 1985-1991: An International Author and Subject Index to History and Criticism HolRef PN3433.5 S35x 1987 v.1, v.2

Hall, H. W.: Science Fiction and Fantasy Reference Index, 1992-1995: An International Subject and Author Index to History and Criticism. HolRef PN3433.4 S34x 1997

Tymn, Marshall B.: Research Guide to Science Fiction. HolRef PN 3448 S45 T93 1977x

Tymn, Marshall B.: The Year’s Scholarship in Science Fiction and Fantasy, 1976-79. PN 3433.8 T95x 1982
The Tymn and Schlobin indexes are replaced by Hall, above.

Tymn, Marshall B. & Roger C. Schlobin: The Year’s Scholarship in Science Fiction and Fantasy 1972-1975. PN 3448 S45 T94K (supplement to Clareson, above)

Film, illustrations, sound recordings, miscellaneous:

Burgess Meredith Reads Ray Bradbury. Record 287

Adler, Alan: Science Fiction and Horror Movie Posters in Full Color. PN 1995.9 P5 A

Baxter,John: Science Fiction in the Cinema. PN 1995.9 S26 B43

Beer, Gilian: Open Fields: Science in Cultural Encounter. PR468.S34 B44 1999
This interesting study of the rhetoric of science largely ignores SF, except for touching on books by Lem and Wells.

Bova, Ben: Vision of the Future: The Art of Robert McCall. ND237 M4116 B6 1982

Broderick, Mick. Nuclear Movies: A Filmography. PN1995.9.N9B76 1988
Replaced by the second edition, below.

Broderick, Mick. Nuclear Movies: A Critical Analysis and Filmography of International Feature Length Films Dealing with Experimentation, Aliens, Terrorism, Holocaust, and Other Disaster Scenarios, 1914-1990 [2nd ed.]. PN1995.9.N9B76 1991.
The most comprehensive guide to this subject.

Brosnan, John: Future Tense: The Cinema of Science Fiction. PN 1995.9 S26 B7

Bukatman, Scott: Blade Runner. PN1997.B596 B85 1997

Felshin, Nina: Disarming images: Art for Nuclear Disarmament. N 6512 D584 1984

Frank, Alan: The Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Handbook. PN 1995.9 S26 F73 1982

Freas, Frank Kelly: The Art of Science Fiction. NC 975.5 F74 A45

Gifford, Denis: Science Fiction Film. PN 1995.9 S26 C5

Greene, Eric: Planet of the Apes as American Myth: Race and Politics in the Film and Television Series. PN1995.9.P495 G74 1996

Hardy, Phil. Science Fiction: The Arum Film Encyclopedia PN1995.9.S26S345x 1991

Hendershot, Cynthia. Paranoia, the Bomb, and 1950s Science Fiction Films. PN1995.9.S26 H37 1999

Johnson, William: Focus on the Science Fiction Film. PN 1995.9 S26 J6

Kapell, Matthew & William G. Doty, eds.: Jacking in to the Matrix Franchise: Cultural Reception and Interpretation. Vancouver PN1997.M395 J33 2004

Kaveny, Roz. From Alien to The Matrix: Reading Science Fiction Film. PN1995.9.S26 K38 2005

Kevorkian, Martin. Color Monitors: The Black Face of Technology in America P94.5.A372 U558 2006

Kuhn, Annette, ed. Alien Zone: Cultural Theory and Contemporary Science Fiction Cinema. PN 1995.9 S26 A818 1990

Kuhn, Annette, ed.: Alien Zone II: The Spaces of Science-Fiction Cinema. PN1995.9.S26 A8184 1999

Lee, Walt & Bill Warren: Reference Guide to Fantastic Films: Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Horror PN1995.9.F36L4

Lentz, Harris M., ed. Science Fiction, Horror & Fantasy Film and Television Credits Supplement: Through 1987. PN 1995.9 S26 L46

Lucanio, Patrick: Them or Us: Archetypal Interpretations of Fifties Alien Invasion Films. PN 1995.9 S26 L8 1987

Menville, Douglas: Things to Come (An Illustrated History of the Science Fiction Film). PN 1995.9 S

Napier, Susan Jolliffe: Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation. NC1766 .J3 N37 2001 Ê

National Library Service for the Blind and Handicapped: Science Fiction: A Selected List of Books that have Appeared in Talking Book Topics and Braille Book Review. Holland Documents (on the 3rd floor), Stack 65,

LC 19.11

Nicholls, Peter: The World of Fantastic Films: An Illustrated Survey. PN 1995.9 F36 N53 1984

O’Neill, James: Sci-Fi on Tape: A Complete Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy on Video. PN1995.9.S26 O53 1997

Parish, James Robert: The Great Science Fiction Pictures. PN 1995.9 S26 P37

Pickard, Roy: Science Fiction in the Movies, An A-Z. PN 1995.9 S26 P5 1978

Pohl, Frederik: The New Visions: A Collection of Modern Science Fiction Art. NC 1882.7 S35 N4 1982

Randall, David Anton: Science Fiction and Fantasy: An Exhibition. Z6676 15 no 21

Resnick, Michael: The Official Price Guide to Comic and Science Fiction Books. PN6725 .O33x 1983
Now very dated.

Sadoul, Jacques: 2000 AD: Illustrations from the Golden Age of Science Fiction Pulps. NC 986 S2213

Sammon, Paul M.: Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner. PN1997.B596 S26 1996
Filled with fascinating inside information about the making of this seminal film.

Shapiro, Jerome F. Atomic Bomb Cinema: The Apocalyptic Imagination on Film. PN1995.9.W3 S52 2002

Shay, Don and Jody Duncan. The Making of T2: Terminator 2: Judgment Day PN1997.T397M35 1991, compact storage no. A5416

Skal, David. J.: Screams of Reason: Mad Science and Modern Culture. PN1995.9.H6 S58 1998

Slusser, George & Eric S. Rabkin, eds.: Shadows of the Magic Lamp: Fantasy and Science Fiction in Film. PN 1995.9 F36 S5 1985

Sobchak, Vivian Carol: Screening Space: The American Science Fiction Film. PN 1995.9 S26 S57 1987

Sobchak, Vivian Carol: The Limits of Infinity: The American Science Fiction Film 1950-1975. PN 1995.9 S26 S57 1980

Taylor, Al: Making a Monster: The Creation of Screen Characters by the Great Makeup Artists. PN 2068 T3

Telotte, J. P. A Distant Technology: Science Fiction Film and the Machine Age. PN1995.9.S26 T45 1999

Warren, Bill: Keep Watching the Skies! American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties. PN 1995.9 S26 W37 1982

Weaver, Tom: Attack of the Monster Movie Makers: Double Feature Creature Attack: A Monster Merger of Two More Volumes of Classic Interviews. PN1995.9.S26 W43 2003

Willis, Donald C.: Horror and Science Fiction Films II. Ref. PN1995.9 H6 W53

Willis, Donald D.: Horror and Science Fiction Films: A Checklist. PN 1995.9 H6 W5

Willis, Donald: Variety’s Complete Science Fiction Reviews. HolRef PN 1995.9 S26 V37 1985

Wingrove, David, ed.: Science Fiction File Source Book. PN 1995.9 S26 S34x 1985


Aikon, Paul E.: Origins of Futuristic Fiction. PN 3433.8 A44 1987

Aldiss, Brian. The Detached Retina: Aspects of SF and Fantasy PR830.S35 A39 1995b

Aldiss, Brian: Billion Year Spree. PR 830 S35 A38 (superseded by Trillion Year Spree, below)

Aldiss, Brian: Hell’s Cartographers: Some Personal Histories of Science Fiction Writers. PS 129 H4 1975

Aldiss, Brian: The Pale Shadow of Science. PR 6051 L3 Z476 1985
Most of the content of this collection of essays is duplicated in other books by Aldiss, but it contains a handy defense of his choice of Mary Shelley as the founder of SF, plus useful essays on Stapledon, Philip K. Dick, and his own Helliconia trilogy.

Adliss, Brian: The Shape of Further Things. PR 6051 L3 Z5 1971

Aldiss, Brian: This World and Nearer Ones: Essays Exploring the Familiar. PR 6051 L3 T47 1981.
Miscellaneous prefaces and other brief articles, including ones on Dick, Vonnegut, and Tarkovsky’s Solaris.

Aldiss, Brian: Trillion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction PR 830 S35 A38 1986b (replaces Billion Year Spree, above)

Amis, Kingsley: New Maps of Hell. 823.09 Am57n

Andriano, Joseph: Immortal Monster: The Mythological Evolution of the Fantastic Beast in Modern Fiction and Film. PS374.M544 A53 1999

Antczak, J.: Science Fiction: The Mythos of a New Romance. Educ PS 374 S35 A58 1985

Apter, T. E.: Fantasy Literature: An Approach to Reality. PN 3435 A65 1982

Armitt, Lucie: Contemporary Women’s Fiction and the Fantastic. PN3435 .A76 2000

Armytage, W. H.: Yesterday’s Tomorrows. CB 151 A77

Asimov, Isaac: Asimov’s Galaxy: Reflections on Science Fiction PS3551 S5 Z463 1989

Asimov, Isaac: Asimov on Science Fiction. PN 3433.5 A8

Asimov, Isaac & Martin H. Greenberg: Cosmic Critiques: How & Why Ten Science Fiction Stories Work. PN3377.5.S3C6 1990

Attebery, Brian: The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature from Irving to LeGuin. PS 374 F27 A8b

Attebery, Brian: Decoding Gender in Science Fiction. PS374.S35 A84 2002

Bailey, James O.: Pilgrims Through Space and Time: Trends and Patterns in Scientific and Utopian Fiction. PN 3448 S45 B47

Bainbridge, William Sims: Dimensions of Science Fiction. PN 3433.5 B35 1986

Bainbridge, William Sims: The Spaceflight Revolution: A Sociological Study. Science TL 788.5 B34

Barr, Marleen S. Alien to Femininity: Speculative Fiction and Feminist Theory [Part 1: Community Immortal Feminist Communities: A Recent Idea In Speculative Fiction “The Females do the Fathering!”: Reading, Resisting, and James Tiptree Jr. Eclipsing the Connecticut Yankee: Female Time Travelers Part 2: Heroism New Incarnations of Psyche: World-Changing Womanists Heroic Fantastic Femininity: Woman Warriors Part 3: Sexuality and Reproduction “Biological Wishful Thinking”: Strange Bedfellows and Phallic Fallacies Reproducing Reproduction, Manipulating Motherhood: Pregnancy and Power]. PN3433.6 .B37 1987

Barr, Marlene S. Feminist Fabulation: Space/Postmodern Fiction. PN3401.B38 1992

Barr, Marleen S.: Future Females: A Critical Anthology. PN 6071 S33 F84x

Barr, Marleen S.: Future Females, The Next Generation: New Voices and Velocities in Feminist Science Fiction Criticism. PS374.S35 F88 2000

Barr, Marleen S.: Genre Fission: A New Discourse Practice for Cultural Studies PS374.P64 B37 2000

Barr, Marleen S. Lost in Space: Probing Feminist Science Fiction and Beyond PS374.S35B33 1993

Barr, Marleen S., Ruth Salvaggio & Richard Law: Suzy McKee Charnas/Octavia Butler/Joan D. Vinge. PS 374 S35 B34 1986

Ben-Tov, Sharona: The Artificial Paradise: Science Fiction and American Reality. PS374.S35 B38 1995

Berger, Harold L.: Science Fiction and the New Dark Age. PN 3448 S45 B43

Bennett, Betty T. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley: An Introduction. PR5398 .B46 1998

Biermann, Lillian: Images in a Crystal Ball: World Future in Novels for Young People. PN 3433.4 W4

Bleiler, E. F. Science Fiction: The Gernsback Years: A Complete Coverage of the Genre Magazines from 1926 through 1936. PS648.S3 B57 1998

Bleiler, E. F.: Science Fiction Writers: Critical Studies of the Major Authors from the Early Nineteenth Century to the Present Day. PS 374 B35 S36 1982

Blish, James: More Issues at Hand. PN 3448 S45 B47

Booker, M. Keith: Dystopian Literature: A Theory and Research Guide PN56.D94 B66 1994

Booker, M. Keith: Monsters, Mushroom Clouds, and the Cold War: American Science Fiction and the Roots of Postmodernism, 1946-1964. PS374.S35 B66 2001

Bova, Ben: Notes to a Science Fiction Writer. PZ4 B782 Nox

Bova, Benjamin W.: Notes to a Science Fiction Writer. PN 3377.5 S3 B6 1982

Bretnor, Reginald: The Craft of Science Fiction: A Symposium on Writing Science Fiction and Science Fantasy. PN 3377.5 S3 C7

Bretnor, Reginald: Modern Science Fiction: Its Meaning and Its Future. 809.3 B756m

Bretnor, Reginald: Science Fiction, Today and Tomorrow. PN 3448 S5 B7

Brians, Paul: Nuclear Holocausts: Atomic War in Fiction 1895-1984. PN 352 N83 B753x 1987

Bridenne, Jean Jacques: La litterature francaise d’imagination scientifique. 843.09 B763L

Brigg, Peter. The Span of Mainstream and Science Ficction: A Critical Study of a New Literary Genre PR888.S34 B75 2002

Broderick, Damien: The Architecture of Babel: Discourses of Literature and Science. PN55 .B74 1994

Broderick, Damien: Transrealist Fiction: Writing in the Slipstream of Science PN3433.5 .B76 2000

Bukatman, Scott: Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject in Postmodern Science Fiction. PS374.S35 B84 1993

Buker, Derek M.: Science Fiction and Fantasy Readers’ Advisory: The Librarian’s Guide to Cyborgs, Aliens, and Sorcerers. Z688.S32 B85 2002

Calkins, Elizabeth: Teaching Tomorrow: A Handbook of Science Fiction for Teachers. Educ LB 1631 C29

Campbell, John W., et al.: Modern Science Fiction: Its Meaning and Its Future. 809.3 B7566m

Canaday, John. The Nucler Muse: Literature, Physics, and the First Atomic Bombs. QC791.96 .C36 2000

Card, Orson Scott. How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy. PN3377.5.S3C37 1990

Carter, Paul Allen: The Creation of Tomorrow: Fifty Years of Magazine Fiction. PN 3448 S45 C36

Chapman, Edgar L. & Carl B. Yoke, eds. Classic and Iconoclastic History Science Fiction. PS374.S35 C58 2003

Chernaik, Laura: Social and Virtual Sace: Science Fiction, Transnationalism, and the American New Right HN90.M6 C43 2005

Cioffi, Frank: Formula Fiction? An Anatomy of American Science Fiction 1930-1940. PS 374 S35 C5 1982

Clareson, Thomas P.: Many Futures, Many Worlds: Theme and Form in Science Fiction. PN 3448 S45 M3

Clareson, Thomas P.: Science Fiction: The Other Side of Realism. PN 3448 S45 C5

Clareson, Thomas P.: Some Kind of Paradise: The Emergence of American Science Fiction PS 374 S35 C56 1985

Clareson, Thomas P.: A Spectrum of Worlds. PZ1 3542 Sp

Clareson, Thomas P.: Voices for the Future: Essays on Major Science Fiction Writers. PN 3448 S45 V6

Clarke, Ignatius Frederick: Voices Prophesying War. D445 C6

Colloque international de science-fiction: Actes du premier colloque international de science-fiction de Nice: Images de l ailleurs Espace interieur, ed. Jean Emelina & Denise Terrel. PN 3448 S45 C64x 1983

Conte, Joseph Mark: Design and Debris: A Chaotics of Postmodern American Fiction. PS374.C4 C66 2002

Cowart, David & Thomas L. Wymer: Twentieth-Century American Science Fiction Writers. PS 243 A45 v.8

Crosby, Janice. C. Cauldron of Changes: Feminist Spirituality in Fantastic Fiction. PS374.F27 C76 2000

Davin, Eric Leif: Pioneers of Wonder; Conversations with the Founders of Science Fiction. PS374.S35 D36 1999

Davies, Philip John, ed. Science Fiction, Social Conflict, and War. PN3433.5.S35 1990

de Camp, L. Sprague: Science Fiction Handbook. PN 3377.5 S3 D4 1975

de Camp, L. Sprague: Literary Swordsmen and Sorcerers: The Makers of Heroic Fantasy. PR830 F3 D4

Delany, Samuel R.: The Jewel-Hinged Jaw. PN 3448 S45 D4x

Delany, Samuel R.: The Motion of Light in Water: Sex and Science Fiction Writing in the East Village, 1957-1965, PS 3554 E437 Z475 1988

Delany, Samuel R.: Shorter Views: Queer Thoughts & the Politics of the Paraliterary. PS3554.E437 Z4756 1999

Delany, Samuel R.: Silent Interviews: On Language, Race, Sex, Science Fiction, and Some Comics: A Collection of Written Interviews PS3554.E437 Z476 1994

Delany, Samuel R.: Starboard Wine: More Notes on the Language of Science Fiction. PN 3433.5 D45x 1984

Del Rey, Lester: The World of Science Fiction 1926-1976: The History of a Subculture. PS374 S35 D4

Dery, Mark. The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink. NX180.S6 D48 1999

Dewey, Joseph: In a Dark Time: The Apocalyptic Temper in the American Novel of the Nuclear Age PS 374 A 65 D4 1990

Disch, Thomas M. The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered the World. PN3433.5 D57 1998

Donawerth, Jane: Frankenstein’s Daughters: Women Writing Science Fiction PS374.S35 D66 1997

Dozois, Gardner, ed.: Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy. PN337.5.S3W75

Dunn, Thomas P.: The Mechanical God: Machines in Science Fiction. PN3433.6 M4

Du Pont, Denise, ed.: Women of Vision. PS 374 S35 W64 1988

Eaton Conference on Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature: Bridge to Science Fiction. PN 3448 S45 E2 1979

Ellison, Harlan: Sleepless Nights in the Procrustean Bed. PS 3555 L62 S65 1984

Erlich, Richard D., and Dunn, Thomas P., eds.: Clockwork Worlds: Mechanized Enrivonments in Science Fiction. PN 3433.6C56 1983

Eshbach, Lloyd, ed.: Of Worlds Beyond: The Science of Science Fiction Writing. PN 3448 S45 E7

Evans, Hilary and Dik: Beyond the Gaslight: Science in Popular Fiction 1885-1905. PR 1309 S45 B4

Fernbach, Amanda: Fantasies of Fetishism: From Decadence to the Post-Human.

Ferns, C. S. Narrating Utopia: Ideology, Gender, Form in Utopian Litrature. PN3448.U7 F47 1999

Ferreira, Maria Aline Seabra: I Am the Other: Literary Negotiations of Human Cloning. PS374.H83 F47 2005

Ferrerar, Juan: La Novela de Ciencia Ficcion. PN 3448 S45 F38

Fischer, William B.: The Empire Strikes Out: Kurd Lasswitz, Hans Dominik, and the Development of German Science Fiction. PT 747 S34 F57 1984

Flanagan, Mary & Austin Booth: Reload: rethinking women + cyberculture PS151 .R45 2002 Ê

Franklin, Howard Bruce: Future Perfect: American Science Fiction of the Nineteenth Century. PN 3448 S45 F7

Fredericks, Casey: The Future of Eternity: Mythologies of Science Fiction and Fantasy. PN 3433.6 F7 1982

Freedman, Carl. Critical Theory and Science Fiction. PN3433.5 .F74 2000

Garber, Eric: Uranian Worlds: A Reader’s Guide to Alternative Sexuality in Science Fiction. PN 56 H57 G37x 1983. See newer edition, below.

Garber, Eric and Lyn Paleo: Uranian Worlds: A Reader’s Guide to Alternative Sexuality in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. PN56.H57G37x 1990

Ginn, Sherry. Our Space, Our Place: Women in the Worlds of Science Fiction Television. PN1992.8.W65 G56 2005

Glut, Donald F. The Frankenstein Archive: Essays on the Monster, the Myth, the Movies, and More. PN1995.9.F8 G59 2002 Ê

Goswami, Amit: The Cosmic Dancers: Exploring the Physics of Science Fiction. Sci. Q162 G7 1983

Goulart, Ron: Cheap Thrills: An Informal History of the Pulp Magazines. PS 379 G6

Gove, Philip Babcock: The Imaginary Voyage in Prose Fiction: A History of its Criticism and a Guide for its Study, with an Annotated Check Lis of 215 Imaginary Voyages from 1700 to 1800.PN 3432 G69 1961

Greenberg, Martin H.: Fantastic Lives: Autobiographical Essays by Notable Science Fiction Writers. PS 129 F3

Green, Roger Lancelyn: Into Other Worlds. 809 G825i

Greenland, Colin: The Entropy Exhibition: Michael Moorcock and the British “New Wave” in Science Fiction. PR 830 S35 G73 1983

Griffiths, John: Three Tomorrows: American, British, and Soviet Science Fiction. PN 3448 S45 G75x

Gunn, James: Alternate Worlds: The Illustrated History of Science Fiction. PN 3448 S45 G8

Gunn, James: The Discovery of the Future: The Ways Science Fiction Developed. PN 3448 S45 G81x

Haraway, Donna: The Haraway Reader HQ1190 .H364 2004

Harris-Fain, Darren: British Fantasy and Science-Fiction Writers, 1918-1960. Holref. PN451 .D52x v.255 Ê

Harris-Fain, Darren:British Fantasy and Science-Fiction Writers Since 1960. Holref. PN451 .D52x v. 261

Harris-Fain, Darren: Understanding Contemporary American Science Fiction: The Age of Maturity, 1970-2000. PS374.S35 H37 2005

Hartwell, David G.: Age of Wonders: Exploring the World of Science Fiction. PN 3433.8 H36 1984

Hartwell, David G. & Kathryn Cramer, eds.: The Space Opera Renaissance PS648.S3 S55 2006

Hassler, Donald M.: Comic Tones in Science Fiction: The Art of Compromise with Nature. PN 3433.8 H37 1982
Contains surprisingly little about SF, less about comedy. Examples discussed from Asimov, Clement, LeGuin, Pohl, Sturgeon

Hay, George, ed.: The Edward De Bono Science Fiction Collection. Z695.1 E4 N37

Hayles, N. Katherine: How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. Q335 .H394 1999 (Owen Library)

Healy, Janet K. Miller: Simulated Realities: Contemporary Science Fiction, Golding and Robbe-Grillet. (Thesis) WSU L5 1980 H4

Heard, Alex: Apocalypse Pretty Soon: Travels in End-Time America. BR526 .H335 1999

Hellekson, Karen. The Alternate History: Refiguring Historical Time. PS374.H5 H44 2001

Hogeland, Lisa Maria. Feminism and Its Fictions: The Consciousness-Raising Novel and the Women’s Liberation Movement. PS374.F45 H64 1998

Hollinger, Veronica and Joan Gordon, eds.: Edging into the Future: Science Fiction and Contemporary Cultural Transformation. PS374 .S35 E37 2002 Ê

Hornum, Barbara G.: American Values and World View as Reflected in Science Fiction. Microfilm PN 3448 S45 H67x

Huntington, John: Rationalizing Genius: Ideological Strategies in the Classic American Science Fiction Short Story. PS 374 S35 H86 1989

Innes, Sherrie A. Tough Girls: Women Warriors and Wonder Women in Popular Culture. P94.5.W65 I56 1999

International Conference on the Fantastic in Literature and Film: Aspects of Fantasy: Selected essays from the Second International Conference on the Fantastic in Literature and Film, ed. by William Coyle PZ3435 I57 1981

International Conference on the Fantastic in Literature and Film: Contours of the Fantastic, Selected Essays from the Eighth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, ed. Michele K. Langford. PN 56 F34 I58 1990

International Conference on the Fantastic in Literature and Film: The Scope of the Fantastic: Theory, Technique, Major Authors. PN 56 F34 I 57 1980 or PN 56 F34 I 57 1980a

International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts: Spectrum of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the Sixth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, ed. Donald Palumbo NX 650 F36 I59 1985

International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts: Reflections on the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the Fourth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, ed. by Michael R. Collings PN 56 F34 I58 1983

Isaacs, Leonard: Darwin to Double Helix: The Biological Theme in Science Fiction. PR 830 S35

Ivison, Douglas, ed.: Canadian Fantasy and Science-Fiction Writers. PN451 .D52x v. 251 Ê

Jameson, Fredric: Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions. PS648.S3 J36 2005

Jarvis, Brian.: Postmodern Cartographies: The Geographical Imagination in Contemporary American Culture. GF91.U6 J37 1998b

Jarvis, Sharon: Inside Outer Space: Science Fiction Professionals Look at Their Craft PN 3433.5 I57 1985

Johnston, John. Information Multiplicity: American Fiction in the Age of Media Saturation. PS374.M43 J64 1998

Jones, A.: Deconstructing the Starships: Science, Fiction and Reality. PN3433.8 .J66x 1999

Kasack, Wolfgang: Science-Fiction Osteuropa: Beitrage zur russischen, polnischen und tschechischen phantastischen Literatur. PG 512 S35 1984

Keim, Heinrich: New Wave: die Avantgarde der modernen anglo-amerikanischen Science Fiction. PR 888 S35 K44 1983

Kerman, Judith B., ed. Retrofitting Blade Runner: Issues in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Philip K. Dick s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? PN1997.B283R4 1991

Ketterer, David: New Worlds for Old: The Apocalyptic Imagination, Science Fiction and American Literature. PS 374 S35 R4

Ketterer, David: Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy. PR9192 S34 K48 1992

De Witt Douglas Kilgore: Astrofuturism: Science, Race, and Visions of Utopia in Space. PS374.S35 K43 2003 Ê

King, Betty: Women of the Future: The Female Character in Science Fiction. PS 374 S35 K44

Kitchin, Rob & James Kneale: Lost in Space: Geographies of Science Fiction. PN3433.6 .L67 2002

Knight, Damon: In Search of Wonder. 813.09 K743i

Knight, Damon: Turning Points: Essays on the Art of Science Fiction. PN 3448 S45t

Knight, Diana: Barthes and Utopia: Space, Travel, Writing PN75.B29 K55 1997

Kreuziger, Frederick A.: The Religion of Science Fiction PN 3433.6 K74 1986

Kumar, Krishan: Utopia and Anti-Utopia in Modern Times. HX806 K86 1987

Landon, Brooks: Science Fiction After 1900: From the Steam Man to the Stars. PN3433.8 .L36 1997

Larbalestier, Justine. The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction. PS374.S35 L29 2002

Lederer, Susan E.: Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature. PR5397.F73 F75 2002 Ê

Lefanu, Sarah. In the Chinks of the World Machine: Feminism and Science Fiction. PN 3433.6 L43x 1988

LeGuin, Ursula K.: Dancing at the Edge of the World: Thoughts on Words, Women, Places. PS 3562 E42 D36 1989

LeGuin, Ursula K.: The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction. PN 3435 L4

LeGuin, Ursula K.: The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction, rev. ed. PN3435.L4 1992

Le Guin, Ursula K.: The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagintion. PS3562.E42 W38 2004

Lem, Stanislaw: Microworlds: Writings on Science Fiction and Fantasy. PN 500 B25A5

Lenz, Millicent. Nuclear Age Literature for Youth: The Quest for a Life-Affirming Ethic. PN1009.A1L47 1990

Lerner, Frederick Andrew: Modern Science Fiction and the American Literary Community. PS 374 S35 L4 1985

Lewis, C. S.: Of Other Worlds. PR 6023 E926 O3 1967

Lofficier, Jean-Marc & Randy: French Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Pulp Fiction: A Guide to Cinema, Television, Radio, Animation, Comic Books and Litrature from the Middle Ages to the Present. PQ637.F3 L64 2000

MaGuire, Patrick L.: Red Stars: Political Aspects of Soviet Science Fiction. PG 3098 S5 M38 1985

Malik, Rex, ed.: Future Imperfect: Science Fact and Science Fiction. PN 3433.2 F8

Malzberg, Barry N.: The Engines of the Night: Science Fiction in the Eighties. PN 3433.8 M34

Malmgren, Carl Carryl. Worlds Apart: Narratology of Science Fiction. PN3433.5.M35 1991

Manlove, C.: Science Fiction: Ten Explorations PS 374 S35 M36 1986

Mannix, Patrick. The Rhetoric of Antinuclear Fiction: Persuasive Strategies in Novels and Films. PS374.N82M36 1992

Matthew, Robert. Japanese Science Fiction: A View of a Changing Society. New York: Routledge, 1989. PL 747.57 S3 M37 1989

McCaffery, Larry: Across the Wounded Galaxies: Interviews with Contemporary American Science Fiction Writers (Benford, Burroughs, Butler, Delany, Disch, Gibson, le Guin, Russ, Sterling, Wolfe) PS 374 S35 M39 1990

McCaffery, Larry: Storming the Reality Studio: A Casebook of Cyberpunk and Postmodern Science Fiction. PS374.S35S76 1991

McKnight, Stephen A., ed. Science, Pseudo-Science, and Utopianism in Early Modern Thought. Q125.S43463 1992

McNelly, Willis: Science Fiction: The Academic Awakening. PN 3448 S45 S3

Melzer, Patricia: Alien Constructions: Science Fiction and Feminist Thought. PS374 S35 M45 2006

Meyers, Walter E.: Aliens and Linguists: Language Study and Science Fiction. PN 3448 S45 N46

Merrick, Helen & Tess Williams, ed.: Women of Other Worlds: Excursions Through Science Fiction & Feminism. PN98.W64 W66x 1999

Michael, Magali Cornier: Feminism and the Postmodern Impulse: Post-World War II Fiction. PR888.I45 M53 1996

Millies, Suzanne: Science Fiction Primer for Teachers. PN 3448 S45 M5

Moskowitz, Samuel: Explorers of the Infinite. PN 3448 S45 M65

Moskowitz, Samuel: Seekers of Tomorrow. PN 3448 S45 M66

Moskowitz, Samuel: Strange Horizons: The Spectrum of Science Fiction. PN 3448 S45 M665

Moylan, Tom: Demand the Impossible: Science Fiction and the Utopian Imagination. PS 374 U8 M69 1986

Moylan, Tom: Scraps of the Untainted Sky: Science Fiction, Utopia, Dystopia. PN3433.6 .M69 2000

Myers, Robert E., ed.: The Intersection of Science Fiction and Philosophy: Critical Studies. PN 3433.6 I 57 1983

Nadeau, Robert: Readings from the New Book on Nature: Physics and Metaphysics in the Modern Novel. PS374 P45 N3

Nahin, Paul J. Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science Fiction. PS374.S35N34 1993

Nicholls, Peter, ed.: Science Fiction at Large: A Collection of Essays by Various Hands about the Interface Between Science Fiction and Reality. PN 3448 S45 S28

Nicholls, Peter, ed.: The Science in Science Fiction. SCI Q 162 S4127 1982

Nye, David E.: Narratives and Spaces: Technology and the Construction of American Culture. E169.1 .N816 1997

O Leary, Stephen D.: Arguing the Apocalypse: A Theory of Millennial Rhetoric. BL501.O44 1994

Olsen, Lance: Ellipse of Uncertainty: An Introduction to Postmodern Fantasy. PN 56 F34 O47 1987

Panshin, Alexei: Science Fiction in Dimension: A Book of Explorations. PN 3448 S45p

Panshin, Alexei and Cory: The World Beyond the Hill: Science Fiction and the Quest for Transcendence. PN 3433.5 P26 1989

Parker, Helen N.: Biological Themes in Modern Science Fiction. PN 3433.6 P37 1984

Parrinder, Patrick: Science Fiction: Its Criticism and Teaching. PN3448 S45 P37x

Pawling, Christopher, ed.: Popular Fiction and Social Change. PN 3344 P66 1984b

Perkins, Michael: The Secret Record. PN 56 E7 P4

Pettman, Dominic: After the Orgy: Toward a Politics of Exhaustion. BL503.2 .P47 2002

Philmus, Robert M.: Into the Unknown: The Evolution of Science Fiction from Francis Godwin to H. G. Wells. PR 830 S35 P5

Philmus, Robert M.: Visions and Re-visions: (re)Constructing Science Fiction. PR830.S35 P57 2005

Pierce, Hazel: A Literary Symbiosis: Science Fiction/Fantasy Mystery. PN 3433.6 P54 1983

Pierce, John J.: Foundations of Science Fiction: A Study in Imagination and Evolution. PN3433.8 P54 1987
Vol. 1 of a useful three-volume history of SF treated by theme.

Pierce, John J.: Great Themes of Science Fiction: A Study in Imagination and Evolution. PN 3433.8 P544 1987
Vol. 2 of the series. (Vol. 3 has not yet appeared.)

Plattel, Martin G.: Utopian and Critical Thinking. HX 806 P5513

Platt, Charles: Dream Makers: The Uncommon People Who Write Science Fiction. PN 165 P56x

Pohl, Frederik: The Way the Future Was: A Memoir. PS3566 036 Z47

Porter, Jennifer E. & Darcee L. McLaren, eds.: Star Trek and Sacred Ground: Explorations of Star Trek, Religion, and American Culture. PN1995.9.S694 S72 1999

Pournelle, Jerry & Jim Baen, eds.: The Science Fiction Yearbook. PZ 1 S45x 1985

Rabkin, Eric S.: The Fantastic in Literature. PN 56 P34 R3

Rabkin, Eric S.: No Place Else: Explorations in Utopian and Dystopian Fiction. PR 830 U7 N6 1983

Rabkin, Eric S., Martin H. Greenberg, and Joseph D. Olander: The End of the World. PN 3433.6 E6 1983

Randall, David: Science Fiction and Fantasy: An Exhibition Jan-April 1975. Z6676 I5 no. 21

Reilly, Robert, ed.: The Transcendent Adventure: Studies of Religion in Science Fiction. PR 830 S35 T73 1985

Ridgway, Jim and Michele Benjamin: PsiFi: Psychological Theories and Science Fictions. PN 56 P93 R53x 1987

Riley, Dick: Critical Encounters: Writers and Themes in Science Fiction. PS 374 S35 C74

Roemer, Kenneth M., ed.: America as Utopia. PS 374 U8 A47

Rogow, Roberta: Futurespeak: A Fan’s Guide to the Language of Science Fiction. PN3433.4.R64 1991

Rose, Lois: The Shattered Ring: Science Fiction and the Quest for Meaning PN 3448 S45 R6

Rose, Mark: Alien Encounters: Anatomy of Science Fiction . PN 3433.8 R6

Rose, Mark: Science Fiction: A Collection of Critical Essays. PN 3448 S45 S27

Rosenberg, Daniel & Susan Harding, eds.: Histories of the Future. PS374.F73 H57 2000

Rottensteiner, Franz: The Science Fiction Book: An Illustrated History. PN 3448 S45 R65

Rotschild, Joan, ed.: Machina ex Dea: Feminist Perspectives on Technology. T14.5 M3 1983

Ruddick, Nicholas. Ultimate Island: On the Nature of British Science Fiction. PR830.S35.R845 1993

Russ, Joanna: The Image of Women in Science Fiction in Images of Women in Fiction: Feminist Perspectives, ed. Susan Koppelman Cornillon. PN3411.C6 1973

Russ, Joanna: To Write Like a Woman: Essays in Feminism and Science Fiction. PS147 R87 1995.

Russell, Miles, ed. Digging Holes in Popular Culture: Archaeology and Science Fiction. PN3433.6 .D54 2002

Sabella, Robert. Who Shaped Science Fiction? PS374.S35 S18 2000

Saciuk, Olena H., ed. The Shape of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the Seventh International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts. PN 56 F34 I58 1986

Sadler, Frank: The Unified Ring: Narrative Art and the Science-Fiction Novel. PN 3377.5 S3 S2 1984

Sammons, Martha C.: A Better Country: The World of Religious Fantasy and Science Fiction. New York: Greenwood Press, 1988.

Sandison, Alan & Robert Dingley, eds.: Histories of the Future: Studies in Fact, Fantasy and Science Fiction. PS374.F73 H57 2000

Samuelson, David: Visions of Tomorrow: Six Journeys from Outer to Inner Space. PS 374

Sargent, Lyman Tower: British and American Utopian Literature. 1516-1975. PR 149 U8 S3x & PR149.U8S3x 1988

Sawyer, Andy & David Seed, eds.: Speaking Science Fiction: Dialogues and Interpretations. PN3433.2 .S67 2000

Sayer, Karen & John Moore, ed.: Science Fiction: Critical Frontiers. PS374.S35 S333 2000

Schafer, Martin: Science Fiction als Ideologiekritik?. PS 374 S35 S28 1977

Schaffner, Val: Lost in Cyberspace: Essays and Far-Fetched Tales. PS3569.C46L6 1993

Schlobin, Roger C.: Urania’s Daughters: A Checklist of Women Science Fiction Writers, 1692-1982.

Scholes, Robert E.: Science Fiction: History, Science, Vision. PN 3448 S45

Scholes, Robert E.: Structural Fabulation: An Essay on Fiction of the Future. PR 830 S35 S3

Schulz, Hans-Joachim: Science Fiction. PN 3433.6 S34x 1986

Schwenger, Peter: Letter Bomb: Nuclear Holocaust and the Exploding Word. PN98.D43S39 1992

Science Fiction Writers of America: Writing and Selling Science Fiction. PN 337.5 S3 S3 1982

Scott, Melissa: Conceiving the Heavens: Creating the Science Fiction Novel. PN 3377.5 .S3 s37 1997

Seed, David: Anticipations: Esays on Early Science Fiction and Its Precursors. PR830.S35 A58 1995

Shinn, Thelma J.: Worlds Within Women: Myth and Mythmaking in Fantastic Literature by Women. PS 374 F27 S45 1986

Slusser, George E. & Eric S. Rabkin, eds.: Aliens: The Anthropology of Science Fiction. PN 3433.6 A44 1987

Slusser, George E. & Eric S. Rabkin, eds.: Hard Science Fiction. PN 343.2 H37 1986

Slusser, George E., Eric S. Rabkin & Robert Scholes, eds.: Bridges to Fantasy. PN 56 F34 B7 1982

Slusser, George E., Eric S. Rabkin & Robert Scholes, eds.: Coordinates: Placing Science Fiction and Fantasy. PN 3433.2 C66 1983

Slusser, George E. & Eric S. Rabkin, eds.: Fights of Fancy: Armed Conflict in Science Fiction and Fantasy PN3433.6 F54 1993

Slusser, George E. & Eric S. Rabkin, eds.: Intersections: Fantasy and Science Fiction. PN 3433.2 I58 1987

Slusser, George E. & Eric S. Rabkins, eds.: Mindscapes: The Geographies of Imagined Worlds. PN 3435 M55 1989

Slusser, George E. & Eric S. Rabkin, eds.: Storm Warnings: Science Fiction Confronts the Future. PS 374 F86 S86 1987

Slusser, George & Eric S. Rabkin, eds.: Styles of Creation: Aesthetic Technique and the Creation of Fictional Worlds. PN3433.5.S894 1992
Interesting essays on various aspects of style in SF.

Slusser, George E. & Tom Shippey, eds. Fiction 2000: Cyberpunk and the Future of Narrative. PN3433.6F53 1992

Slusser, George E., Gary Westfahl, & Eric S. Rabkin, eds.: Immortal Engines: Life Extension and Immortality in Science Fiction and Fantasy. PN3433.2 I56 1996

Smith, Curtis C., ed.: Twentieth-Century Science Fiction Writers. PS 374 S35 T89

Smith, Nicholas D.: Philosophers Look at Science Fiction. PS 374 S35 P4 1982

Spaulding, A. Timothy: Re-Forming the Past: History, the Fantastic, and the Postmodern Slave Narrative. PS374.S58 S66 2005

Spinrad, Norman: Science Fiction in the Real World. PN3433.5.S65 1990

Spittel, Olaf R. Science-Fiction: Essays. PN 3433.5 S34x 1987

Stableford, Brian W.: Scientific Romance in Britain, 1890-1950. PR 888 S35 S73 1985b

Staicar, Tom: Critical Encounters II: Writers and Themes in Science Fiction. PN3433.8 C73 1982

Staicar, Tom: The Feminine Eye: Science Fiction and the Women Who Write It. PS 374 S35 F45 1982

Stocker, Jack H., ed.: Chemistry and Science Fiction. PS374.S35 C48 1998

Stockwell, Peter. The Poetics of Science Fiction. PN3433.6 S76 2000
Interesting explorations of stylistic patterns in SF.

Suvin, Darko: Victorian Science Fiction in the UK: The Discourses of Knowledge and Power. PR878 S35 S8 1983

Suvin, Darko: Metamorphosis of Science Fiction. PN 3448 S45 S897

Suvin, Darko: Positions and Presuppositions in Science Fiction. PN 3433.8 S88 1988

Swanson, Roy A.: Voices for the Future: Essays on Major Science Fiction Writers. PN 3448 S45 V6

Swinfen, Ann : In Defence of Fantasy: A Study of the Genre in English and American Literature since 1945. PR 888F3 S94 1984

Tatsumi, Takayuki: Full Metal Apache: Transactions Between Cyberpunk Japan and Avant-Pop America. PL747.55.T37

Tymn, Marshall B.: Science Fiction: A Teacher’s Guide and Resource Book. PN 3433.7 S35 1988

Tymn, Marshall B.: Science Fiction: Fantasy, and Weird Fiction Magazines PN 3433 T9 1985

Wagar, W. Warren: Terminal Visions: The Literature of Last Things. PN 56 E63 W33 1982

Waller, John: Fabulous Science: Fact and Fiction in the History of Scientific Discovery. Q125 .W266 2002

Walsh, Chad: From Utopia to Nightmare. HX 806 W2 1972

Warner, Marina. Fantastic Metamorphoses, Other Worlds: Ways of Telling the Self ÊPN56.M53 W37 2002 (missing)

Warrick, Patricia S.: The Cybernetic Imagination in Science Fiction. PN 3448 S45 W34

Weaver, John A., Karen Anijar & Toby Daspit, eds. Science Fiction Curriculum, Cyborg

Weber, Ronald: Seeing Earth: Literary Responses to Space Exploration. PS 228 O 96 W43 1985

Weintraub, Pamela: The Omni Interviews. Sci QH 311 046 1984

Westfahl, Gary: The Mechanics of Wonder: The Creation of the Idea of Science Fiction. PS3513.E8668 Z95 1998
A defensive of the importance of formative role of editor Hugo Gernsback over John Campbell in the creation of modern SF.

Westfahl, Gary: Science Fiction, Children’s Literature, and Popular Culture: Coming of Age in Fantasyland PS374.S35 W44 2000

Westfahl, Gary, ed.: Space and Beyond: The Frontier Theme in Science Fiction. PS374.S35 S63 2000

Westfahl, Gary & George Slusser, eds. Nursery Realms: Children in the Worlds of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. PN56.5 .C48 N87 1999

Wolfe, Gary K.: Critical Terms for Science Fiction and Fantasy: A Glossary and Guide to Scholarship. PN 3435 W64 1966

Wolfe, Gary K.: The Known and the Unknown: The Iconography of Science Fiction. PS 374 S35 W34

Wollheim, Donald A.: The Universe Makers: Science Fiction Today. PN 3448 S45 W57 1971

Wolmark, Jenny: Aliens and Others: Science Fiction, Feminism and Postmodernism PN3433.6.W65 1994

Wolmark, Jenny, ed.: Cybersexualities: A Reader on Feminist Theory Cyborgs and Cyberspace. PN3433.6 .C83 1999

Wu, Dingbo and Patrick D. Murphy, eds. Science Fiction from China. PL 2658 E8 S36 1989

Yoke, Carl B. Phoenix from the Ashes: The Literature of the Remade World. PS 374 R39 P48 1987

Yoke, Carl B. and Donald M. Hassler, eds.: Death and the Serpent: Immortality in Science Fiction and Fantasy. PN 3433.6 D4 1985

Yuen, Wong Kin, Gary Westfahl & Amy Kit-sze Chan: World Weavers: Globalization, Science Fiction, and the Cybernetic Revolution. PN3433.5 .W67 2005

Studies of individual authors:


Arbur, Rosemarie: Leigh Brackett, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Ann McCaffrey: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography. PS 374 S35 A73x

Keulen, Margarete. Radical Imagination: Feminist conceptions of the Future in Ursula Le Guin, Marge Piercy, and Sally Miller Gearhart. PS374.F86K48 1991

Zahorski, Kenneth J.: Lloyd Alexander, Evangeline Walton Ensley, Kenneth Morris: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography. PS 228 F35 Z35x


Aldiss, Brian. The Twinkling of an Eye. PR6951 L3 Z478 1998
Aldiss’ autobiography is best on his youth; has little to say about his fiction except for Greybeard, Barefoot in the Head, and the Helliconia trilogy.

Collings, Michael R.: Brian Aldiss. PR 6051 L3 Z6 1986

Griffin, Brian: Apertures: A Study of the Writings of Brian W. Aldiss. PR 6051 L3 268 1984

Henighan, Tom. Brian Aldiss. PR6051.L3 Z69 1999


Collings, Michael R.: Piers Anthony. PS 3551 N73 Z6 1983


Asimov, Isaac: In Joy Still Felt: The Autobiography of Isaac Asimov, 1954-1978. PS3551 S5 Z515

Asimov, Isaac: In Memory Yet Green: The Autobiography of Isaac Asimov, 1920-1954. PS3551 S5 Z517

Asimov, Isaac: It’s Been a Good Life PS3551.S5 Z473 2002

Freedman, Carl: Conversations with Isaac Asimov. PS3551.S5 Z465 2005

Gunn, James E. Isaac Asimov: The Foundations of Science Fiction PS3551.S5 Z62 1996

Ballard, J. G.:

Brigg, Peter. J. G. Ballard. PR6052.A46 Z59 1985

Delville, Michel. J. G. Ballard. In process.

Stephenson, Gregory. Out of the Night and Into the Dream: A Thematic Study of the Fiction of J. G. Ballard PR6052.A46Z88 1991


Ketterer, David: Imprisoned in a Tesseract: The Life and Work of James Blish. PS 3503 L64 Z74 1987


Greenberg, Martin Harry & Joseph D. Olander, eds.: Ray Bradbury. PS 3503 R167 Z85

Reid, Robin Anne. Ray Bradbury: A Critical Companion. PS3503 .R167 Z86 2000

Touponce, William F.: Ray Bradbury and the Poetics of Reverie. PS 3503 R167 Z88 1984

Weist, Jerry: Bradbury: An Illustrated Life: A Journey to Far Metaphor.” PS3503.R167 Z93 2002


Berger, Albert I. Magic that Works: John W. Campbell And the American Response to Technology. PS3553 A47 Z59 1993
A brilliantly researched study of SF’s most influential editor.


Hollow, John: Against the Night, the Stars: The Science Fiction of Arthur C. Clarke. PR6005 L36 Z69 1983

Olander, Joseph D.: Arthur C. Clarke. PR 6005 L36 Z56


Delany, Samuel R. Correspondence. PS3554.E437 Z48 2000

McEvoy, Seth: Samuel R. Delany. PS 3554 E437 Z78 1985

Peplow, Michael W. & Robert S. Bravard: Samuel R. Delany: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography, 1962-1972. Z8223.2 P46

Reid, Robin Anne: Arthur C. Clarke: A Critical Companion. PR6005 L36 Z57 1997

Russell, Miles, ed. Digging Holes in Popular Culture: Archaeology and Science Fiction. PN3433.6 D54 2002

Sallis, James, ed. Ash of Stars: On the Writing of Samuel R. Delany. PS3554.E437 Z55 1996

Weedman, Jane Branham: Samuel R. Delany. PS3554 E437 Z75


Carrère: I Am Alive and You Are Dead: A Journey Into the Mind of Philip K. Dick. PS3554.I3 Z63 2004

Greenberg, Martin Harry. ed.: Philip K. Dick. PS 3554 I3 1983

Mackey, Douglas A.: Philip K. Dick. PS 3554 I3 Z75 1988

Robinson, Kim Stanley: The Novels of Philip K. Dick. PS 3554 I3 286 1984
Consists mostly of summaries of Dick’s novels, published and unpublished. Useful selected bibliography.

Sutin, Lawrence. Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick PS 3554 I3 Z89 1989

Umland, Samuel J., ed. Philip K. Dick: Contemporary Critical Interpretations. PS3554.I3 Z795 1995
The best of the various volumes of collected essays on Dick.

Warrick, Patricia S.: Wind in Motion: The Fiction of Philip K. Dick PS 3554 I3 Z92 1987

Williams, Paul: Only Apparently Real. PS 3554 I3 Z93 1986


Thompson, Raymond H.: Gordon R. Dickson: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography. Z82308 T47 1983


Weil, Ellen and Gary K. Wolfe: Harlan Ellison: The Edge of Forever. PS3555.L62 Z95 2002


Cavallaro, Dani: Cyberpunk and Cyberculture: Science Fiction and The Work of William Gibson. PS3557.I2264 Z64 2000

Olsen, Lance: William Gibson. PS3557.I2264Z76x 1992


Weil, Ellen & Gary K. Wolfe: Harlan Ellison: The Edge of Forever. PS3555.L62 Z95 2002


Gilman, Charlotte Perkins: A Journey from Within: The Love Letters of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, 1897-1900. PS 1744 G57 Z48 1995

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins: A Nonfiction Reader, ed. Larry Ceplair. HQ1413.G54 A3 1991

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins: The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman: An Autobiography. PS1744 G57 Z5 1972

Gough, Val & Jill Rudd, ed.: A Very Different Story: Studies on the Fiction of Charlotte Perkins Gilman. PS1744.G57 Z89 1998

Hill, Mary A.: Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Making of a Radical Feminist. HQ1413.G54 H54

Kessler, Carol Farley: Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Her Progress Toward Utopia, With Selected Writings. PS1744.G57 Z73 1995

Knight, Denise D.: Charlotte Perkins Gilman: A Study of the Short Fiction. PS1744.G57 Z734 1997

Meyering, Sheryl L. Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Woman and Her Work. PS1744.G57 Z63 1989

Scharnhorst, Gary: Charlotte Perkins Gilman. PS1744.G57 Z85 1985

Scharnhorst, Gary: Charlotte Perkins Gilman: A Bibliography. Z8342.415 .S32 1985


Blish, James. Heinlein in Dimension: A Critical Analysis. PS3515.E288 Z8 Ê

Franklin, H. Bruce: Robert A. Heinlein: America as Science Fiction. PS3515.E288 Z67 Ê

Heinlein, Robert A.: Grumbles from the Grave. PS 3515 E288 G7 1990

Olander, Joseph D.: Robert A. Heinlein. PS 3515 E288 Z84

Stover, Leon E.: Robert A. Heinlein PS 3515 E288 Z98 1987


Herbert, Brian. Dreamer of Dune: The Biography of Frank Herbert. PS3558.E63 Z68 2003

Levack, Daniel J. H.: Dune Master: A Frank Herbert Bibliography. PS 3558 E63 Z65 1988


Widder, William J.: The Fiction of L. Ron Hubbard: A Comprehensive Bibliography & Reference Guide to Published and Selected Unpublished Works. Z8420.665.W53 1994


Haut, Mavis: The Hidden Library of Tanith Lee: Themes and Subtexts from Dionysos to the Immortal Gene. PR6062.E4163 Z69 2001


Bittner, James W.: Approaches to the Fiction of Ursula K. LeGuin. PS 3562 E42 Z56 1984

Bloom, Harold: Ursula K. LeGuin. PS 3562 S42 Z952 1986

Bucknall, Barbara J.: Ursula K. LeGuin. PS 3562 E42 Z58

Cogell, Elizabeth Cummins: Ursula K. LeGuin: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography. Z8495.88 .C63 1983

Davies, Laurence & Peter Stillman: The New Utopian Politics of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed. PS3562.E42 D576 2005

De Bolt, Joe, ed.: Ursula K. Le Guin, Voyager to Inner Lands and to Outer Space. PS 3562 B42 Z96

Selinger, Bernard.: LeGuin and Identity in Contemporary Fiction. PS 3562 E42 Z88 1988

Slusser, George E.: Farthest Shores of Ursula K. LeGuin. PS 3562 E42 Z9

Spivack, Charlotte: Ursula K. LeGuin. PS 3562 E42 Z92 1984

White, Donna R.: Dancing With Dragons: Ursula K. LeGuin and the Critics. PS3562.E42 Z985 1999


Byfield, Bruce: Witches of the Mind: A Critical Study of Fritz Leiber PS3523.E4583Z54x 1991

Staicar, Tom: Fritz Leiber. PS 3523 E4583 Z86


Ziegfeld, Richard E.: Stanislaw Lem. PG 7158 L392 Z53 1985

Swirski, Peter: Between Literature and Science: Poe, Lem, and Explorations in Aesthetics, Cognitive Science, and Literary Knowledge. PS2642.S3 S95x 2000


Wolfe, Gary K.: David Lindsay. PR 6023 I58115 Z96 1982b


Derleth, August: Some Notes on Lovecraft. PS 3523 O833 D4 1971

Joshi, S. T.: H. P. Lovecraft. PS 3523 O 833 Z7 1982

Joshi, S. T., ed.: H. P. Lovecraft: Four Decades of Criticism. PS 3523 O833 Z66

Joshi, S. T., ed.: H. P. Lovecraft and Lovecraft Criticism: An Annotated Bibliography. Z8520.9 J67 1981

Lovecraft, H. P. Lord of a Visible World: An Autobiography in Letters. PS3523.O833 Z48 2000

Lovecraft, H. P. & Willis Conover: Lovecraft at Last. PS 3523 O833 Z526

Owings, Mark with Jack L. Chalker: The Revised H. P. Lovecraft Bibliography. Z8520.9 O93

Shreffler, Philip A.: The H. P. Lovecraft Companion. PS 3523 O833 Z86

Miller, Walter M. Jr.:

Listening: : A Canticle for Lebowitz at 40. AP2 .L5515

Roberson, William H.: Walter M. Miller, Jr.: A Bio-Bibliography. Z8575.56 1992

Moorcock, Michael:

Greenland, Colin: Michael Moorcock: Death is no Obstacle. PR6063.O59Z534x 1992

Priest, Christopher:

Butler, Andrew M.: Christopher Priest: The Interaction. PR6066.R55 Z65 2005


Stansky, Peter, ed.: On Nineteen Eighty-Four PR 6029R8 N644 1983 [See also many other studies of Orwell which contain discussions of Nineteen Eighty-Four.]


Cortiel, Jeanne. Demand My Writing: Joanna Russ/Feminism/Science Fiction. PS3568.U763 Z56x 1999


Wolf, Milton T., ed.: Shaw and Science Fiction. PR5366 .A15 v. 17


Making Monstrous: Frankenstein, Criticism, Theory. PR5397.F73B68 1991


Chapman, Edgar L. Road to Castle Mount, The: The Science Fiction of Robert Silverberg. PS3569.I472 Z57 1999

Elkins, Charles L. & Martin Harry Greenberg, eds. Robert Silverberg’s Many Trapdoors: Critical Essays on His Science Fiction. PS3569.I472


Sanders, Joe: E. E. Doc Smith. PS 3537 M349 Z87 1986


Fiedler, Leslie A.: Olaf Stapledon: A Man Divided. PR 6037 T18 Z66 1983

McCarthy, Patrick A.: Olaf Stapledon. PR 6037 T18 Z77 1982


Potts, Stephen W. The Second Marxian Invasion: The Fiction of the Strugatsky Brothers. San Bernardino, Calif: Borgo Press, 1991.


Menger, Lucy: Theodore Sturgeon. PS 3569 T875 Z78


Tiptree, James. Meet Me at Infinity. PS3570.I66 A6 2000


Costello, Peter: Jules Verne: Inventor of Science Fiction. PQ 2469 Z5 C66

Smyth, Edmund J., ed. Jules Verne: Narratives of Modernity PQ2469.Z5 J833 2000


Frenkel, James, ed. True Names by Vernor Vinge and the Opening of the Cyberspace Frontier. PS3572.I534 T78 2001


Boon, Kevin Alexander, ed.: At Millennium’s End: New Essays on the Work of Kurt Vonnegut. PS3572 .O5 Z535 2001

Merrill, Robert. Critical Essays on Kurt Vonnegut. PS3572.O5Z62 1990

Morse, Donald E. Kurt Vonnegut. PS3572.O5Z78x 1992

Morse, Donald E. The Novels of Kurt Vonnegut: Imagining Being an American. PS3572.O5 Z786 2003


Bergonzi, Bernard: The Early H. G. Wells: A Study of the Scientific Romances. 823 W462z6

Bergonzi, Bernard: H. G. Wells: A Collection of Critical Essays. PR 5777 H2 1976

Geduld, Harry M., ed. The Definitive Time Machine: A Critical Edition of H. G. Wells s Scientific Romance.

H. G. Wells Society: H.G. Wells: A Comprehensive Bibliography. Z8964.8 H2

Haining, Peter: The H. G. Wells Scrapbook. PR 5776 H16

Hammond, J. R.: H. G. Wells: Interviews and Recollections. PR 5776 H12x

Haynes, Roslynn D.: H. G. Wells: Discoverer of the Future. PR 5776 S35 H28

Hillegas, Mark Robert: The Future as Nightmare: H. G. Wells and the Antiutopians. PR 5777 H5

Huntington, John: The Logic of Fantasy. PR 5778 S35 H8 1982

Kargarlitskii, Iulii: The Life and Thought of H. G. Wells. PR 5776 K313 1966a

Ketterer, David, ed.: Flashes of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the War of the Worlds Centennial: Nineteenth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts. PN56.F34 I58 1998

MacKenzie, Norman & Jeanne: H. G.Wells: A Biography. PR 5776 M3 1973b

MacKenzie, Norman & Jeanne: The Time Traveller: The Life of H. G. Wells. PR 5776 M3

Marvin, Thomas E.: Kurt Vonnegut: A Critical Companion. PS3572.O5 Z766 2002

McConnell, Frank: The Science Fiction of H. G. Wells. PR 577 M3 1981

Raknem, Ingvald: H. G. Wells and His Critics. PR 5777 R3

Scheick, William J. and J. Randolph Cox: H. G. Wells: A Reference Guide. Z 8964.8 S34 1988

Smith, David C.: H. G. Wells: Desperately Mortal: A Biography. PR 3774 S54 1986

Stover, Leon E.: The Prophetic Soul: A Reading of H.G. Wells’s Things to Come, Together with His Film Treatment, Whither Mankind? and the Postproduction Script (Never Before Published). PN1997 T42863 S78 1987

Wagar, W. Warren: H. G. Wells: Traversing Time. PR5777 .W37 2004

Williamson, Jack: H. G. Wells: Critic of Progress. PR 5777 W5


Williamson, Jack: Wonder’s Child: My Life in Science Fiction. PS 3545 I557 Z477


Krulik, Theodore: Roger Zelazny PS 3576 E43 Z75 1985


Note: this is a list only of periodicals containing criticism and reviews. It is not a list of all the science fiction magazines in the library.

Analog. PZ1 A1 A48

Astounding. Microfilm PZ1 A1 A48 (first issue reprinted in PZ1 A77x)

Extrapolation: A Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy. AP M2344 The full text of issues from 1997 to the present is available online through ProQuest Direct to subscribers. Password required.

Fantasy Newsletter. AP 2 F35x

Foundation. (subscription cancelled 1995) PS 374 S35 F68

Galileo. PS 648 S3 G34

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. AP2 M2344 (older issues on microfilm)

New Venture. PN 3448 S45 N4

Omni. AP2 O45x

Science Fiction Horizons. PN 3448 S45 S2

Science Fiction Studies. PN 3448 S45 S34

Originally mounted April 20, 1996.

Last revised April 25, 2008.

Study guides


Operas in MMR at Holland/New Library, Washington State University

Operas are listed in alphabetical order by composer.

Videotapes  Laserdiscs  Compact Discs  16MM Films  Miscellany


VHS 14379 P.D.Q. Bach (Peter Schickele): The Abduction of Figaro: A Simply Grand Opera in Three Acts (a hilarious spoof of Mozart operas for those who know the latter well)

VHS 18984 Vincenzo Bellini: Norma

VHS 13902 Alban Berg: Wozzeck

VHS 13732 Hector Berlioz: Les Troyens (The Trojans)*

VHS 14384 Georges Bizet: Carmen

VHS 18978 Arrigo Boito: Mefistofele

VHS 18979 Aleksandr Borodin: Prince Igor

VHS 19005 Gaetano Donizetti: Daughter of the Regiment

VHS 14382 Gaetano Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor**

VHS 16593 pts. 1 & 2 George Friderick Handel: Giulio Cesare in Egitto (Julius Caesar)

VHS 15552 George Gershwin: Porgy & Bess

VHS 13730 Christoph Willibald Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridicie*

VHS 18981 Charles Gounod: Romeo et Juliette

VHS 16593 George Frederick Handel: Giulio Cesare in Egitto (Julius Caesar in Egypt)

VHS 20710 George Frederick Handel: The Sorceress

VHS 18949 Engelbert Humperdinck: Hansel & Gretel

VHS 14786 Jacques Ibert: Don Quichotte (Don Quixote)

VHS 18982 Ruggiero Leoncavallo: Pagliacci

VHS 18974 Pietro Mascagni: Cavalleria Rusticana

VHS 16338 Claudio Monteverdi: L’Orfeo (I highly recommend the descent into Inferno scene for use in Hum 103)*

VHS 14372 Claudio Monteverdi: Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria (The Return of Ulysses to His Homeland)*

VHS 18985 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Don Giovanni

VHS 18975 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio)

VHS 13733 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Idomeneo*

VHS 11353 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: “Ingmar Bergman’s The Magic Flute”

VHS 14373 or 19968 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro

VHS 14394 & VHS 18951 Giacomo Puccini: La Bohème

VHS 16337 Giacomo Puccini: Madama Butterfly

VHS 18950 Giacomo Puccini: Tosca

VHS 18972 Giacomo Puccini: Turandot (Zeffirelli)

VHS 14380 Gioacchino Rossini: Il Barbieri di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville)

VHS 18980 v. 1 & 2: Gioacchino Rossini: Semiramide

VHS 18988 Camille Saint-Saens: Samson et Dalila

VHS 14374 Richard Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier

VHS 16523 Richard Strauss: Salome

VHS 13731 Igor Stravinsky: Oedipus Rex; The Flood*, **

VHS 18207 Sir Arthur Sullivan: The Gondaliers

VHS 18204 Sir Arthur Sullivan: H.M.S. Pinafore

VHS 18257 Sir Arthur Sullivan: Princess Ida, or, Castle Adamant

VHS 18204 Sir Arthur Sullivan: Iolanthe

VHS 18206 Sir Arthur Sullivan: The Mikado

VHS 18205 Sir Arthur Sullivan: Patience

VHS 18202 Sir Arthur Sullivan: The Pirates of Penzance

VHS 18210 Sir Arthur Sullivan: The Sorcerer

VHS 18211 Sir Arthur Sullivan: Ruddigore, or, The Witch’s Curse

VHS 18209 Sir Arthur Sullivan: Trial by Jury

VHS 18208 Sir Arthur Sullivan: The Yeomen of the Guard

VHS 14381 Giuseppi Verdi: Aida

VHS 18976 Giuseppi Verdi: Otello

VHS 14385 Giuseppi Verdi: Rigoletto

VHS 11765 Giuseppi Verdi: La Traviata

VHS 18993 (vols. 1 & 2) Richard Wagner: Götterdämmerung

VHS 18990 (vols. 1 & 2) Richard Wagner: Das Rheingold

VHS 18992 (vols. 1 & 2) Richard Wagner: Siegfried

VHS 18991 (vols. 1 & 2) Richard Wagner: Die Walküre

VHS 11724 Kurt Weill: The Three Penny Opera (German, English subtitles)**


LD 11 Richard Wagner: Das Rheingold

LD 3 Richard Wagner: Tristan und Isolde


DVD 879 John Aams: The Death of Klinghoffer

DVD 1040 Ludwig von Beethoven: Fidelio

DVD 861 Hector Berlioz: The Trojans*

DVD 880 Alban Berg: Lulu

DVD 1088 Leonard Bernstein: Candide

DVD 387 Georges Bizet: Carmen

DVD 1433 Charles Gounod: Faust

DVD 887 Benjamin Britten: Peter Grimes

DVD 464 Emmanuel Chabrier: L’étoile

DVD 898 Claude Debussy: Pelleas et Melisande

DVD 391 & 1030 Gaetano Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor

DVD 1027 Antonín Dvorák: Rusalka

DVD 176 John Gay: The Beggar’s Opera

DVD 165 George Gershwin: Porgy and Bess

DVD 353 Gilbert & Sullivan: The Gondaliers

DVD 358 Gilbert & Sullivan: H.M.S. Pinafore; or, The Lass that Loved a Sailor

DVD 354 Gilbert & Sullivan: Iolanthe: or, The Peer and the Peri

DVD 357 Gilbert & Sullivan: The Mikado: or, The Town of Titipu

DVD 355 Gilbert & Sullivan: Patience: or, Bunthorne’s Bride

DVD 356 Gilbert & Sullivan: The Pirates of Penzance; or, The Slave of Duty

DVD 359 Princess Ida: or, Castle Adamant

DVD 351 Gilbert & Sullivan: Ruddigore: or, The Witch’s Curse

DVD 352 Gilbert & Sullivan: The Sorcereer

DVD 350 Gilbert & Sullivan: The Yeoman of the Guard

DVD 889 Philip Glass: Satyagraha

DVD 140 Christoph Willibald Gluck: Orphée et Eurydice

DVD 172 George Frederick Handel: Ariodante

DVD 1029: George Frederick Handel: Agrippina

DVD 876 Leos Janacek: Jenufa

DVD 1301 Jean-Baptiste Lully: Persée

DVD 1015 Jules Massenet: Thaïs

DVD 883 Gian Carlo Menotti: The Medium

DVD 739 or DVD 1762 or 1783 Claudio Monteverdi: L’Incoronazione di Poppea

DVD 434 or DVD 1760 or DVD 1781 Claudio Monteverdi: L’Orfeo*

DVD 736 or DVD 1761 or DVD 1782 Claudio Monteverdi: Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria*

DVD 1479 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: La clemenza di Tito

DVD 1040 Modest Mussorgsky: Boris Godunov

DVD 374 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Don Giovanni

DVD 402 & 698 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: The Magic Flute

DVD 403 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro

DVD 178 Jacques Offenbach: La belle Hélène

DVD 1389 Jacques Offenbach: Les Contes d’Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann)

DVD 1013 Giovanni Battista Pergolesi: Lo frate ‘nnamorato

DVD 1111 Rachel Portman: The Little Prince

DVD 88 Andre Previn: A Streetcar Named Desire

DVD 377 Giacomo Puccini: La Boheme

DVD 179 Giacomo Puccini: La Bohème

DVD 19 Giacomo Puccini: Turandot at the Forbidden City of Beijing

DVD 741 Giacomo Puccini: Il Trittico: Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica, Gianni Schicchi

DVD 139 Henry Purcell: Dido and Aeneas*

DVD 740 Henry Purcell: The Fairy Queen**

DVD 1300 Jean-Philippe Rameau: Les Boréades

DVD 1299 Jean-Philippe Rameau: Les Indes galantes

DVD 1300 Jean-Philippe Rameau: Paladins, Les

DVD 1815 Jean-Philippe Rameau: Zoroastre

DVD 1026 Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: The Golden Cockerel

DVD 1397 Gioacchino Rossini: Il Barbieri di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville)

DVD 1365 Gioacchino Rossini: L’Italiana in Algeri

DVD 891 Dmitri Shostakovch: Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk

DVD 412 Richard Strauss: Ariadne auf Naxos*

DVD 731 Richard Strauss: Capriccio

DVD 1412 Richard Strauss: Elektra*

DVD 878 or 1822 Richard Strauss: Salome**

DVD 1416 Peter Tchaikovsky: Evgenii Onegin (Eugene Onegin)

DVD 389 & 1364 Giuseppi Verdi: Aida

DVD 1368 Giuseppi Verdi: Un Ballo in Maschera

DVD 1362 Giuseppi Verdi: Don Carlo

DVD 1366 Giuseppi Verdi: Rigoletto

DVD 381 Giuseppi Verdi: Tosca

DVD 9 Giuseppi Verdi: La Traviata

DVD 1369 Giuseppi Verdi: Il Trovatore

DVD 92 Antonio Vivaldi: Orlando Furioso

DVD 1296 von Weber, Carl Maria: Der Freitschütz

DVD 1012 Richard Wagner: The Flying Dutchman

DVD 1031 Richard Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

DVD 177 Richard Wagner: Parsifal

DVD 1362 Richard Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen: Die Walkure

DVD 376 Richard Wagner: Tristan and Isolde

Compact discs:

CDM 404 John Adams: Nixon in China

CDM 2660 Thomas Adès: Powder Her Face

CDM 18 Béla Bartók: Bluebeard’s Castle

CDM 1330 Ludwig van Beethoven: Fidelio

CDM 559 Vincenzo Bellini: Norma

CDM 1322 Vincenzo Bellini: I Puritani

CDM 1404 Vincenzo Bellini: La Sonnambula

CDM 1272 Alban Berg: Lulu

CDM 644 Alban Berg: Wozzeck

CDM 4057 Hector Berlioz: La damnation de Faust

CDM 508 Hector Berlioz: Les Troyens (The Trojans)*

CDM 331 Leonard Bernstein: Candide

CDM 1764 Harrison Birtwistle: Punch and Judy

CDM 1225 Georges Bizet: Carmen

CDM 1226 Georges Bizet: Les pêcheurs de perles (The Pearl Fishers)

CDM 326 Karl Birger Blomdahl: Aniara (the world’s first science fiction opera)

CDM 922 Arrigo Boito: Mefistofele

CDM 1335 Aleksandr Borodin: Prince Igor (Kniaz Igor)

CDM 1386 Benjamin Britten: Billy Budd

CDM 3714 Benjamin Britten: Death in Venice

CDM 1291 Benjamin Britten: Midsummer Night’s Dream**

CDM 409 Benjamin Britten: Peter Grimes

CDM 1295 Benjamin Britten: The Turn of the Screw**

CDM 2280 Ferruccio Busoni: Doktor Faust

CDM 773 Francesca Caccini: Liberazione di Ruggiero

CDM 514 Marc Antoine Charpentier: Médée (Medea)*

CDM 4071 Chausson: Le roi Artus**

CDM 1895 Cherubini: Médée*

CDM 1336 Francesco Cilèa: Adriana Lecouvreur

CDM 2167 Aaron Copland: The Tender Land

CDM 3094 Eugene d’Albert: Tiefland

CDM 3699 Davis, Anthony: X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X

CDM 4020 Johann George Conradi: Schöne und getreue Ariadne

CDM 1384 Claude Debussy: Pelleas et Melisande

CDM 2967 & 4030 Gaetano Donizetti: Don Pasquale

CDM 407 Gaetano Donizetti: L’Elisir d’Amore

CDM 1235 Gaetano Donizetti: La fille du régiment (The Daughter of the Regiment)

CDM 499 Gaetano Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor**

CDM 2900 Antonin Dvorak: Rusalka

CDM 1342 Manuel de Falla: El Amor Brujo

CDM 1325 Carlisle Floyd: Susannah

CDM 1379 John Gay: The Beggar’s Opera

CDM 105 George Gershwin: Porgy and Bess

CDM 1331 & 1906 Umberto Giordano: Andrea Chénier

CDM 1329 Philip Glass: Akhnaten

CDM 51 Philip Glass: Einstein on the Beach

CDM 49 Philip Glass: Satyagraha

CDM 1320 Mikhail Glinka: A Life for the Tsar (Zhizn za tsaria)

CDM 1321 Mikhail Glinka: Ruslan and Lyudmila (Ruslan i Liudmila)

CDM 510 Christoph Willibald Gluck: Iphigénie en Aulide*

CDM 3977 Christoph Willibald Gluck: Paride ed Elena*

CDM 523 Christoph Willibald Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridicie*

CDM 711 Charles Gounod: Faust

CDM 1396 Charles Gounod: Romeo et Juliette

CDM 519 George Frederick Handel: Acis and Galatea*

CDM 515 George Frederick Handel: Apollo e Dafne (cantata)*

CDM 1180 George Frederick Handel: Ariodante

CDM 1682 George Frederick Handel: Giulio Cesare

CDM 3537 George Frederick Handel: Hercules*

CDM 1408 George Frederick Handel: Rodelinda

CDM 1315 Joseph Haydn: L’infedeltà Delusa

CDM 1298 Hans Werner Henze: Der junge Lord

CDM 584: Arthur Honegger: Judith; Cantique de pâques

CDM 1231 Engelbert Humperdinck: Hänsel und Gretel

CDM 2153 Leos Janácek: The Cunning Little Vixen

CDM 1236 Leos Janácek: Jenufa

CDM 1293 Leos Janácek: The Makropulos Case (Vec Makropulos)

CDM 674 & 4093 Scott Joplin: Treemonisha

CDM 2922 Oliver Knussen: Higglety Pigglety Pop!; Where the Wild Things Are

CDM 3715 Ernst Krenek: Jonny spielt auf

CDM 2102 Franz Léhar: The Merry Widow

CDM 2077 Ruggiero Leoncavallo: Pagliacci

CDM 402 Jean Baptiste Lully: Atys*

CDM 1708 Jean Baptiste Lully: Armide

CDM 2819 Tod Machover: Valis

CDM 1268 or 2064 Pietro Mascagni: Cavalleria Rusticana

CDM 33 or 1237 Jules Massenet: Manon

CDM 1233 Jules Massenet: Werther

CDM 3945 Gian Carlo Menotti: The Telephone, or, L’amour a trois

CDM 1273 Giacomo Meyerbeer: Les Huguenots

CDM 1388 Gian Carlo Menotti: Amahl and the Night Visitors

CDM 400 & CDM 1796 Claudio Monteverdi: L’Incoronazione di Poppea

CDM 511 Claudio Monteverdi: L’Orfeo*

CDM 628 Claudio Monteverdi: Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria*

CDM 3851 Christopher Montgomery: Callisto

CDM 1228 Douglas Moore: The Ballad of Baby Doe

CDM 2185 John Moran: The Manson Family

CDM 1332 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: The Abduction from the Seraglio (Entührung aus dem Serail)

CDM 3926 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Ascanio in Alba

CDM 1387 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Bastien et Bastienne

CDM 672 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: La Clemenza di Tito

CDM 869 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Così fan tutte

CDM 190 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Don Giovanni

CDM 608 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Die Hochzeit des Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro, in German)

CDM 648 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Idomeneo*

CDM 94, CDM 2547, or CDM 2552 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro, in Italian)

CDM 2382 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: The Philosopher’s Stone (Der Stein der Weisen)

CDM 95 or CDM 406 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute)

CDM 513 Modest Mussorgsky: Boris Godunov

CDM 1889 Modest Mussorgsky: Khovanshchina

CDM 434 Claudio Monteverdi: L’Orfeo

CDM 2980 Carl Nielsen: Maskerade

CDM 3939 Michael Nyman: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

CDM 533 Jacques Offenbach: Contes d’Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann)

CDM 520 Jacques Offenbach: Orphée aux enfers*

CDM 1315 Jacques Offenbach: La Vie Parisienne

CDM 3013 Stephen Paulus: The Three Hermits

CDM 4026 Harry Partch: Revelation in the Courthouse Park*

CDM 2234 Giovanni Battista Pergolesi: Il Maestro di Musica

CDM 3151 Giovanni Battista Pergolesi: La Serva Padrona

CDM 781 Francis Poulenc: Dialogue des Carmélites

CDM 1734 Francis Poulenc: La Voix humaine

CDM 3308 Sergey Prokofiev: The Gambler

CDM 405 Giacomo Puccini: La Bohème

CDM 1377 Giacomo Puccini: La Fanciulla del West

CDM 793 & 3458 Giacomo Puccini: Madama Butterfly

CDM 1339 Giacomo Puccini: Suor Angelica

CDM 352 Giacomo Puccini: Tosca

CDM 43 Giacomo Puccini: Turandot

CDM 518 Henry Purcell: Dido and Aeneas*

CDM 865 Henry Purcell: The Fairy Queen**

CDM 4065 Henry Purcell: King Arthur**

CDM 923 Jean Philippe Rameau: Castor et Pollux*

CDM 4053 Jean Philippe Rameau: Dardanus

CDM 1342 Jean Philippe Rameau: Les Indes galantes

CDM 1343 Maurice Ravel: L’enfant et les sortilèges

CDM 3457 Reimann: Lear

CDM 2206 Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov: A Bride for the Czar (The Tsar’s Bride)

CDM 1340 Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov: Ivan the Terrible, also known as The Maid of Pskov (Pskovitianka)

CDM 3899 Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov: Sadko

CDM 106 or CDM 555 Gioacchino Rossini: Il Barbieri di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville)

CDM 4199 Gioacchino Rossini: La Cambiale di matrimonio

CDM 1905 Gioacchino Rossini: La Cenerentola

CDM 4199 Gioacchino Rossini: L’inganno felice

CDM 1318 Gioacchino Rossini: L’Italiana in Algeri

CDM 4199 Gioacchino Rossini: L’occasione fa il ladro

CDM 4199 Gioacchino Rossini: La Scala di Seta (The Silken Ladder)

CDM 522 Gioacchino Rossini: Semiramide

CDM 4199 Gioacchino Rossini: Il Signor Bruschino

CDM 191 Gioacchino Rossini: Il Viaggio a Reims

CDM 2675 Paul Ruders: The Handmaid’s Tale**

CDM 4293 Antonio Sacchini: Oedipe a Colone*

CDM 1229 Camille Saint-Saëens: Samson et Dalila

CDM 1395 or CDM 4195 Arnold Schoenberg: Moses und Aron

CDM 1380 Bright Sheng: The Song of Majnun

CDM 1292 Dmitri Shostakovich: Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (Ledi Makbet Mtsenskogo Uezda)

CDM 606 Bedrich Smetana: The Bartered Bride

CDM 10 Johann Strauss II: Die Fledermaus

CDM 1296 Richard Strauss: Capriccio

CDM 509 Richard Strauss: Elektra*

CDM 192 Richard Strauss: Die Frau ohne Schatten

CDM 62 Richard Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier

CDM 2974 & 4048 Richard Strauss: Salome**

CDM 530 or CDM 758 Igor Stravinsky: Oedipus Rex*

CDM 295 or CDM 1230 Igor Stravinsky: The Rake’s Progress

CDM 635 Sir Arthur Sullivan: H.M.S. Pinafore

CDM 620 Sir Arthur Sullivan: The Mikado

CDM 1297 Sir Arthur Sullivan: Patience

CDM 373 Sir Arthur Sullivan: The Pirates of Penzance

CDM 1400 Sir Arthur Sullivan: Ruddigore

CDM 1324 Sir Arthur Sullivan: The Yeomen of the Guard

CDM 1328 Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky: Eugen Onegin (Evgenii Onegin)

CDM 1812 Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky: Pique Dame (Pikovaia dama)

CDM 3123 Richard Teitelbaum: Golem

CDM 552 Georg Philipp Telemann: Pimpinone

CDM 1221 Virgil Thomson: Four Saints in Three Acts**

CDM 1333 Virgil Thomson: The Mother of Us All**

CDM 1758 Tomás Torrejón y Velasco: La Púrpura de la Rosa

CDM 32 Giuseppi Verdi: Aida

CDM 3407 Giuseppi Verdi: Aida, told by Leontyne Price

CDM 189 Giuseppi Verdi: Un Ballo in Maschera

CDM 1224 Giuseppi Verdi: Don Carlos

CDM 1323 Giuseppi Verdi: Ernani

CDM 4021: Giuseppi Verdi: Falstaff

CDM 2105 Giuseppi Verdi: La Forza del Destino

CDM 1319 Giuseppi Verdi: Luisa Miller

CDM 1883 Giuseppi Verdi: Nabucco

CDM 1894 Giuseppi Verdi: Otello**

CDM 1376 Giuseppi Verdi: Simon Boccanegra

CDM 46 Giuseppi Verdi: La Traviata (highlights)

CDM 34 Giuseppi Verdi: Rigoletto

CDM 1334 Giuseppi Verdi: Il Trovatore

CDM 3968 Antonio Vivaldi: Motezuma

CDM 1892 Richard Wagner: The Flying Dutchman

CDM 146 Richard Wagner: Götterdämmerung*

CDM 1836 Richard Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg

CDM 143 Richard Wagner: Das Rheingold*

CDM 894 Richard Wagner: Parsifal*

CDM 1369 Richard Wagner: Lohengrin

CDM 145 Richard Wagner: Siegfried*

CDM 320 Richard Wagner: Tannhäuser

CDM 892 & 2083: Richard Wagner: Tristan und Isolde

CDM 144 Richard Wagner: Die Walküre*

CDM 1327 Wallace, Stewart: Harvey Milk

CDM 631 Carl Maria von Weber: Der Freischütz

CDM 378 Kurt Weill: The Threepenny Opera (in English)

16mm Film:

16mm 250 Focus on Opera: Rigoletto

16mm 2851 Focus on Opera: Tales of Hoffman


VHS 14803 “Monteverdi at Mantua” (Salomoni Rossi: Sinfonia undecima; Monteverdi: Arianna’s lament, Chorus and concerto VII from Vesperae Mariae Virginis, and a number of sections from Orfeo)

VHS 12051 “New Voices for Man,” The Music of Man, No. 3 (Evolution of opera, Monteverdi, Corelli, Stradivari and Guarneri, Lully, Purcell and Handel)*

VHS 11603 “Opera with Henry Butler” (presents opera through excerpts from and discussions of productions of Pagliacci and Traviata)

VHS 14380 Five Centuries of Music in Venice, program 4: Verdi and Venetian Theatre

VHS 19115 Making opera: The Creation of Giuseppi Verdi’s La Forza del Destino

CDM 1419 The Art of Arleen Auger

CDM 803 Julianne Baird: Songs of Love and War

CDM 1072 Stravaganza: 18th Century English Theatre Music (Purcell, Handel)

CDM 1173 Thomas Harper: Famous Tenor Arias

CDM 1411 The 3 Tenors in Concert 1994

LD 6 Looney Tunes Curtain Calls (includes the Bugs Bunny classics “Rabbit of Seville” and “What’s Opera Doc?”

DVD 199 Andrea Bocelli: A Night in Tuscany

DVD 170 Three Tenors Christmas

*Mythological theme, suitable for use in Humanities 103.

**Based on a work of English literature.

Paul Brians’ home page

Last updated 12/14/07.