Three-Quarters of a Century of Nuclear Follies — And That’s Just Where to Begin
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|Engelhardt, Living on a Sci-Fi PlanetJuly 1, 2021[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Let me say that, almost every day, one, sometimes several messages appear in my email box with the subject line “You have received a recurring donation.” The “you,” of course, is TomDispatch, not me. I always open them, note the sum, and then look at the name and the place where the donor lives. And I’m eternally amazed. TomDispatch readers offering monthly or quarterly support come from around the world, New Zealand and Australia to South Korea, France, and Germany, but also from across this country in state after state (and not faintly just the places you might expect either). It’s always a kind of heartwarming thrill for me to see your names and home addresses, but a thrill with distinct regrets because I wish I could thank every one of you. Instead, given my reasonably (or unreasonably) mad life keeping TomDispatch going from one post to the next, I never thank any of you. So, this is my chance to tell all of you that, believe me, I see each of your names and after all these years, even if I don’t express it, I’m immeasurably grateful. |
And for any other readers who would like to support this site so thanklessly, don’t hesitate to check out our donation page and think about what you might do. Again, to all of you, my deepest thanks, forever and ever. By the way, TD will be taking the July 4th weekend off. Back on Tuesday. Tom]An All-American Horror StoryThree-Quarters of a Century of Nuclear Follies — And That’s Just Where to Begin
By Tom Engelhardt
Yes, once upon a time I regularly absorbed science fiction and imagined futures of wonder, but mainly of horror. What else could you think, if you read H.G. Wells’s War of the Worlds under the covers by flashlight while your parents thought you were asleep? Of course, that novel was a futuristic fantasy, involving as it did Martians arriving in London to take out humanity. Sixty-odd years after secretly reading that book and wondering about the future that would someday be mine, I’m living, it seems, in that very future, however Martian-less it might be. Still, just in case you hadn’t noticed, our present moment could easily be imagined as straight out of a science-fiction novel that, even at my age, I’d prefer not to read by flashlight in the dark of night. I mean, I was barely one when Hiroshima was obliterated by a single atomic bomb. In the splintering of a moment and the mushroom cloud that followed, a genuinely apocalyptic power that had once rested only in the hands of the gods (and perhaps science-fiction authors) became an everyday part of our all-too-human world. From that day on, it was possible to imagine that we — not the Martians or the gods — could end it all. It became possible to imagine that we ourselves were the apocalypse. And give us credit. If we haven’t actually done so yet, neither have we done a bad job when it comes to preparing the way for just such a conclusion to human history. Click here to read more of this dispatch.