RECENTLY there appeared in the local paper here the headline: NEW TALKS WITH RUSSIA OR PRODUCE HYDROGEN BOMB? By-lined at New York by the Associated Press, the following quotes are a few excerpts from the one-column item which was printed under the heading.
"The New York Times says President Truman is being urged strongly by administration officials to make another attempt to reach an atomic agreement with Russia before he decides whether to produce a hydrogen atomic bomb... The hydrogen atomic bomb is estimated to be 1,000 times as deadly as the original atomic bomb ..... President Truman ... is expected to make his decision within the next two or three weeks both about producing the new weapon and reopening negotiations with the Russians ... The new weapon theoretically would be capable of destroying targets over an area of 50 to 100 square miles."
So now the fact is definitely out. The United States has the hydrogen atomic bomb.
It has come as no surprise to the atomic scientists or to the readers of stf. We have all known that it would only be a matter of time before some country produced this most destructive weapon of all time. The pro writers have speculated upon it for many years, so much so that now that it is in actual existence, we may well be inclined to dismiss it as just one more in the parade of scientific miracles. This attitude is an extremely dangerous one.
It was left to the reader to deduce that the word "production" used in the news item probably refers to mass production. But even if the effectiveness of the bomb is less than its theoretical power mentioned above, it would not require a very great number to make a whole country uninhabitable, or even the world.
The item called to my mind two prozine stories in particular. One was printed twice, once in Amazing Stories and once in Fantastic Adventures, and appeared in the issue of each dated for the same month. As the same publishing house puts out both magazines, you can see that this was a highly unusual procedure. The name of the story was "The
Fire Trail"; the author I cannot remember. But the gist of the story was this: Under the influence of a strange Indian ceremonial rite, the lead character's ego travels into the past and far into space to a planet of a star distant from Earth. He sees there that the dominant race has developed the hydrogen atomic bomb. When their first model is tested, the hero is horrified to see the planet erupt in a blaze of atomic fire! Not a very good story, but the important thing was: IT WAS CLAIMED TO BE TRUE!
The second story was "The Ultimate Peril", by Robert Abernathy, in the current (March 1950) issue of Amazing Stories. The story is placed in the future, and the plot, briefly, was: In a war between Earth and Venus, the lead character is transformed by Venusian science into a living atomic bomb. The Venusians' aim was to have the hero taken to Earth's military headquarters, and there to detonate him. But the Venusians do not know that this war center is hidden under Earth's ocean. Well, the hero finds a way out, of course, but the important thing is the way in which he forces Venus to surrender to Earth. He calls their attention to the fact that Earth's military center is underneath the sea, and that if the Venusians explode him there, a chain reaction will be started in the hydrogen of the water. The resulting explosion would produce enough heat to destroy the Venusian race.
These two stories, combined with the fact that we now have the hydrogen bomb, would seem to be significant. While I don't know if the first story was really true, and while knowing that the second was definitely fiction, I will admit this:
IT'S GOT THE HELL SCARED OUT OF ME!
Text versions and page scans Judy Bemis
Data entry by Judy Bemis
Updated June 18, 2015. If you have a comment about these web pages please send a note to the Fanac Webmaster. Thank you.