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Literature / Hell-Fire

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"It was a new departure in A-bomb spectator appeal. But it jelled without the benefit of clergy."

First published in Fantastic Universe (May 1956 issue) by Isaac Asimov, this Flash Fiction is a Sci-Fi Horror about the dangers of atomic warfare.

Everyone is excited to see the first super-slow motion recording of an exploding atomic bomb. Scientists, government leaders, and even news reporters are present, and very limited numbers of each. Our Point of View is from Alvin Horner, a newsagent from Continental Press. He initially sits down adjacent to a scientist from the federal nuclear testing site in Arizona, but once the scientist starts talking about hell-fire and 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, 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; Earth is Room Enough (1957), Sirius (Yugoslavia/Croatia magazine #11, May 1977 issue), The Far Ends Of Time And Earth (1979), Meine Freunde Die Roboter (1982), The Complete Stories, Volume 1 (1990), and Between Time And Terror (1995).


Examples of tropes within this work: