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Surviving Armageddon: Beyond the Imagination of Disaster

Mick Broderick
Science Fiction Studies
Vol. 20, No. 3 (Nov., 1993), pp. 362-382
Published by: SF-TH Inc
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4240277
Page Count: 21
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Surviving Armageddon: Beyond the Imagination of Disaster
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Abstract

This survey argues that the substantial sub-genre of SF cinema which has entertained visions of nuclear Armageddon primarily concerns itself with survival as its dominant discursive mode, not disaster as suggested by Susan Sontag. From the early post-Hiroshima films which anticipated global atomic conflict, the '50s cautionary tales of short- and long-term effects, through to '80s hero myths of apocalypse, a discernable shift away from an imagination of disaster toward one of survival is evident. These films have drawn upon pre-existing mythologies of cataclysm and survival in their renderings of post-holocaust life, the most potent being a recasting of the Judeo-Christian messianic hero. The cinematic renderings of long-term post-nuclear survival appear highly reactionary, and seemingly advocate reinforcing the symbolic order of the status quo via the maintenance of conservative social regimes of patriarchal law (and lore). In this way the post-nuclear survivalist cycle of the '80s has signified another mode by which a generation has learned to stop worrying and love-if not the bomb-a (post-holocaust) future, which promises a compelling, utopian fantasy of a biblical Eden reborn in an apocalyptic millennia of peace on Earth.

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