AUTHORSeed, David
TITLEH.G. Wells and the Liberating Atom
PERIODICAL TITLEScience-Fiction Studies
DATE PUBLISHED2003
VOLUME NUMBER30
ISSUE NUMBERMarch
PAGE NUMBERS33-48
ISSN0091-7729


This article focuses on early fiction pertaining to atomic bombs and nuclear warfare, showing the narrative discontinuity associated with early authors’ depictions of atomic energy and its destructive potential. Focusing primarily on H.G. Wells’ The World Set Free (1914), the article tracks the postwar emergence of similar narratives derived from Wells’ pattern. The author is most concerned with two characteristics of the fiction: (1) the pervasiveness of demonic imagery applied to atomic bombs, and (2) the disjunction between pre- and post-apocalyptic worlds, especially the way that many novels set in a post-nuclear holocaust world struggle to portray the history that led to the novel’s present. The article also claims that Wells’ book influenced the work of Leo Szilard, drawing evidence from WIlliam Lanouette’s 1994 biography of Szilard. Endnotes and a detailed bibliography supplement the text.


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