Friday, August 11, 2017

I Wonder ...

I don't have my copy of Frederick Pohl's autobiography The Way The Future Was handy (I assume it's still packed away from the move nearly five years ago as many, many, many books are), so I have to relate this from memory and it may not completely correct:

During World War Two, before Pohl managed to get into the military (he started trying right after Pearl Harbor, kept getting turned down, then got drafted and became an Army Air Corps meteorologist in Italy), he was working for one of the big editors (probably John W. Campbell) on one of the pulp magazines (probably Astounding), and ran a story featuring an atomic bomb.

Most ricky-tick, FBI agents showed up to find out who knew what, and how they'd found it out. Of course, no one knew anything. It was just science fiction, for the love of Pete. So the feds grumbled and demanded to be contacted before any more of this atomic bomb stuff got published and went away.

If the atomic bomb was just being invented today, right now, and a story like that got published, would the author/editor/publisher end up wearing a hood and shackles en route to some black site, or would FDR/Trump have a public meltdown about treasonous leaks, or would the whole thing just get ignored and/or dismissed as bizarre fiction and/or conspiracy theory?

FYI, Pohl's book is a great memoir  both of early science fiction fandom and of being a Depression-era rank and file American member of the Communist Party.

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