THE REVIVAL OF LEARNING: SCIENCE AFTER THE NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST IN SCIENCE FICTION
One of the basic stereotypes of science fiction beginning with the days of the Drs. Frankenstein and Jekyll is the mad scientist. Both H. G. Wells' invisible man and Dr. Moreau are other notable examples. But by the 1940s, the mad scientist had been relegated, by and large, to radio and movie serials and to the comic strips. Even in the latter medium Buck Rogers' Dr. Huer (the original upon which the perhaps better known Dr. Zarkov of Flash Gordon was modeled) was more representative of the image of the scientist in the science fiction of the 1940s: one able to invent precisely the needed miracle weapon or device for any contingency. As Albert I. Berger has noted, the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki resulted in a certain amount of self-congratulation in the science fiction community which reinforced proscience attitudes already flourishing in the field. 1 The success of the Manhattan Project was felt to mark the beginning of a bright new day for the sciences.
There were few within the confines of science fiction publishing who recognized fully the threat posed by the bomb; even among those who did, there was a tendency to depict the use of various technical devices to avoid an atomic Armageddon. In this attitude authors were reflecting the mood of the time, which not only absolved science and scientists from responsibility for their creation but tended to congratulate them. This chapter will consider how science fiction has attributed responsibility for a future holocaust to science.
One must search diligently in the years immediately following Hiroshima to discover a fictional attack on nuclear scientists; what one finds is eccentric, unrepresentative, and almost unread-- F. Horace Rose The Maniac's Dream: A Novel of the Atomic Bomb ( 1946). 2 Rose depicts a group of atheistic scientists