Mutations in Nuclear Fiction: Atomic Age to the 21st Century

UNCP Author/Contributor (non-UNCP co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Hannah Anderson, Esther G. Maynor Honors College (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP )
Web Site:
Scott Hicks

Abstract: This project examines how nuclear fiction influenced popular culture during the 1950-1970s, the height of U.S.-Soviet tensions during the Cold War and the peak of what will be hereafter referred to as the Atomic Age. Nuclear fiction is loosely defined as fiction centered on nuclear war, nuclear apocalypse, or other nuclear-related events. I will analyze popular culture sentiments during the Atomic Age, extract the themes from four prominent fiction novels written between 1950-1970, and determine the influence nuclear fiction had on everyday American life. I will then compare the themes unpacked from Atomic Age nuclear fiction to those found in nuclear fiction during the 2000s and 2010s through the new medium of video games. The Fallout franchise, particularly the title Fallout 3 and Fallout 4,will serve as the basis of my twenty-first century analysis. Comparing nuclear fiction from the Atomic Age to examples of nuclear fiction in the twenty-first century will further an understanding of the ways in which current popular culture has been influenced by the depiction of nuclear warfare or nuclear apocalypse in various media. The link between past and present American societies is in part based in each period's cultural anxieties, as explored through comparing and contrasting themes in the art and writing produced within those eras. Analyzing certain trends in popular fiction, be it literary or electronic, can suggest why tropes such as imminent nuclear danger or the experience of post-nuclear life reoccur throughout popular history, even during times when dangers are not necessarily "nuclear" in origin.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Esther G. Maynor Honors College
Language: English
Date: 2016
Nuclear Fiction, Cold War, United States, Soviet Union, Atomic Age, 21st Century, Video Games, Fallout 3, Fallout 4, Nuclear Warfare

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