Download PDF by David Dowling (auth.): Fictions of Nuclear Disaster

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In his 1975 introduction to the novel the author says, 'If I were to write the novel today I would fill it with the very real dangers of misused or stolen plutonium, the unsolved problem of atomic waste disposal - all the problems that developed over the years. ' 24 The power of the novel prompted a New York Times reviewer to urge political and industrial leaders, those 'well-intentioned gropers in the dark', to read it also. What engrosses the reader is the personal point of view such as that of the scientist Jorgenson, who manages to extend his life in the midst of the nuclear accident by hiding in a lead-lined box: But at that moment, as during his whole life, the fates had tricked him.

It is interesting to note that ten years later John Campbell (who wrote under the pseudonym 'Don Stuart') was warning his readers about 'unstable men' rather than portraying the scientist as saviour. Another heroic scientist is Bennion in Malcolm Jameson's The Giant Atom ( 1944). His laboratory is taken over by the General Atomic Corporation, which builds a 'reintegrator' despite Bennion's warnings about 'monkeying around with elements up in the nineties and 28 Fictions of Nuclear Disaster hundreds.

They cannot do so without combining creative imagination and biological knowledge. 12 One example of such a combination is Wells's The Time Machine, where the Haldanean vision of biological decay is framed imaginatively by the device of the time machine and the point of view of a group of learned Victorian gentlemen sitting in a living-room. Even the recoil of Henry Ryecroft in Gissing's novel is a useful framing device, because it dramatises an attitude rather than assuming it. Ryecroft declares, 24 Fictions of Nuclear Disaster I hate and fear 'science' ...

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