British science fiction and the Cold War, 1945-1969

Daley, C. 2013. British science fiction and the Cold War, 1945-1969. PhD thesis University of Westminster School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Languages

TitleBritish science fiction and the Cold War, 1945-1969
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsDaley, C.

This thesis examines British Science Fiction between 1945 and 1969 and considers its response to the Cold War. It investigates the generic progression of British SF in the post-war years, assessing the legacy of the pre-war style of scientific romance in selected works from the late 1940s, before exploring its re-engagement with the tradition of disaster fiction in works by John Wyndham and John Christopher in the 1950s. The thesis then moves on to contemplate the writings of the British New Wave and the experimentations with form in the fiction of J.G. Ballard and Brian Aldiss as well as the stories and articles incorporated within New Worlds magazine during Michael Moorcock’s period as editor. Following on from this is a consideration of the emergence of SF film and television in Britain, marking out its convergence with literary works as well as its own distinctive reactions to the changing contexts of the Cold War.

This thesis therefore diverges from existing literary histories of post-war British writing, which have largely focused on the numerous crises affecting the literary novel. Such examinations have tended to represent the Cold War as an ancillary theme – despite Britain being the third nation to acquire nuclear weapons – and have generally overlooked Science Fiction as a suitable mode for engaging with the major transformations taking place in post-war British society. Reacting to such assumptions, this thesis argues that British SF was not only a form that responded to the vast technological changes facilitated by the Cold War, but equally, that cultural life during the Cold War presented considerable challenges to Science Fiction itself – with visions of nuclear war and authoritarianism no longer the exclusive property of the speculative imagination but part of everyday life. Additionally, by concentrating on overtly British responses to the Cold War this thesis aims to further illuminate an area of cultural history that has otherwise received limited attention.

PublisherUniversity of Westminster
Publication dates
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Permalink -

Share this

Usage statistics

583 total views
1712 total downloads
These values cover views and downloads from WestminsterResearch and are for the period from September 2nd 2018, when this repository was created.