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History Literature / HellFire

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-> "It was a new departure in A-bomb spectator appeal. But it jelled without the benefit of clergy."
-->-- Editor Creator/LeoMargulies, ''Magazine/FantasticUniverse''

First published in ''Magazine/FantasticUniverse'' (May 1956 issue) by Creator/IsaacAsimov, this FlashFiction is a SciFiHorror about the dangers of atomic warfare.

Everyone is excited to see the first [[{{Overcrank}} super-slow motion recording]] of [[UsefulNotes/NuclearWeapons an exploding atomic bomb]]. Scientists, government leaders, and even news reporters are present, and very limited numbers of each. Our PointOfView is from Alvin Horner, a newsagent from ''Continental Press''. He initially sits down adjacent to a scientist from the federal nuclear testing site in {{UsefulNotes/Arizona}}, but once the scientist starts talking about [[TitleDrop hell-fire]] and [[FearIsTheAppropriateResponse how nobody is scared enough of the weapon]], Horner decides to change seats.

The projector starts with the firing tower, then shows the fiery explosion grow into an oval shape. The light/shadows of the oval shift, creating the impression of a face, [[BigRedDevil with a laughing mouth, widow's peak hair, and horns]]. Then it disappears into the generic blast. Only the extremely fast capture rate was able to catch the moment of demonic glee.

This story has been reprinted six times; ''Literature/EarthIsRoomEnough'' (1957), ''{{Magazine/Sirius}}'' (Yugoslavia/Croatia magazine #11, May 1977 issue), ''Literature/TheFarEndsOfTimeAndEarth'' (1979), ''Literature/MeineFreundeDieRoboter'' (1982), ''Literature/TheCompleteStoriesVolume1'' (1990), and ''Literature/BetweenTimeAndTerror'' (1995).
!!Examples of tropes within this work:
* ActivistFundamentalistAntics: Joseph Vincenzo insists on the view that nuclear weapons are MadeOfEvil, and that people should be afraid of HellFire, but they ignore THE TRUTH. Our viewpoint character is disturbed by Vincenzo and changes seats to avoid the apparently [[TheFundamentalist religious fundamentalist]].
* AnAesop: Nuclear bombs are the tool of [[{{Satan}} hell]]. The evidence for this aesop is {{Hellfire}} preached for centuries and the face of a BigRedDevil hidden in the explosion.
* BigRedDevil: While the audience of reporters, scientists, and government leaders watch [[{{Overcrank}} slow-motion footage]] of a nuclear fireball, a face appears with thin, flaring eyebrows, widow's peak hair, and horns affixed to the forehead.
* FearIsTheAppropriateResponse: At first, the scientist Vincenzo is bemoaning the fact that people aren't responding with the fear appropriate to the situation, and our viewpoint character, Alvin Horner, brushes him off as [[TheFundamentalist a fundamentalist]]. Once the footage is shown, however, Horner is terrified because [[UnholyNuke a-bombs and h-bombs are powered by hell]].
* FeaturelessPlaneOfDisembodiedDialogue: No descriptors for the main characters are used, or for the room itself. They don't matter; the description is reserved for the [[{{Overcrank}} slow-motion film]] of an atomic bomb.
* FireAndBrimstoneHell: (ImpliedTrope) The explosion of an atomic bomb is said to be literal HellFire; fire from hell.
* FlashFiction: The whole story is about 400 words, and only occupies a two-page spread in ''Magazine/FantasticUniverse'' or ''Literature/IsaacAsimovTheCompleteStories''.
* {{Hellfire}}: The title is repeated several times, with Joseph Vincenzo, a scientist, claiming that "An exploding atom bomb is hell-fire. ''Literally''." His claim seems confirmed when they watch the footage from yesterday's explosion, showing [[UnholyNuke the explosion has the face of Satan]].
* MadeOfEvil: One of the scientists insists that all atomic bombs are HellFire; power that is innately evil because it comes from FireAndBrimstoneHell.
* MostWritersAreWriters: The story is told from the [[PointOfView third-person limited/omniscient perspective]], but the focus for most of it is Alvin Horner, a reporter from the ''Continental Press''.
* TheNamesake: The title refers to [[MadeOfEvil flames from the bowels of hell]], powered by {{Satan}} himself; atomic bombs.
* NuclearWeaponsTaboo: The story is an AuthorTract against the use of nuclear weapons, showing that all thermonuclear weapons are MadeOfEvil and powered by [[{{Satan}} hell]].
* {{Overcrank}}: The characters are watching time-delayed footage from [[UsefulNotes/NuclearWeapons an atomic bomb test]]. This was the only way to notice the [[BigRedDevil face of hell]] in the [[{{Hellfire}} explosion]].
* ShoutOut: This story references the ''Continental Press'', a telegraph newspaper, using [[MostWritersAreWriters a reporter to give the audience a perspective on events]].
* TitleDrop: In this [[FlashFiction short fiction]], the title is repeated several times, to emphasize [[AnAesop the aesop]] that an atomic bomb is MadeOfEvil.
* UnholyNuke: Watching the expanding thermonuclear fireball in [[{{Overcrank}} extreme slow motion]], the audience realizes that the nuclear bomb is MadeOfEvil, and our viewpoint character decides FearIsTheAppropriateResponse.

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