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Grounded in US B-movies of "the atomic age," this book includes complex intercultural, aesthetic, and philosophical arguments that will make it useful only to graduates, researchers, and faculty. Cripps formerly, Morgan State University. As professor of cinema and comparative culture at Hiroshima University, Shapiro is uniquely qualified to explain American and Japanese cinematic approaches to nuclear holocaust. Here he argues that "atomic bomb cinema is the most recent manifestation of the ancient apocalyptic tradition of continuance.

Besides employing his own considerable analytical powers, Shapiro draws on the work of psychologists, scientists, novelists, and film critics and will best be appreciated by film scholars and those familiar with such terms as synecdochical and anagogic. Recommended for film collections in academic and large public libraries. Kim Holston, American Inst. No redistribution permitted. Log In. My Account. Remember to clear the cache and close the browser window. Search For:. Advanced Search.

Select an Action. Atomic bomb cinema the apocalyptic imagination on film. Shapiro, Jerome F. Publication Information:. Physical Description:. Subject Term:. That is what Kirth Gersen thought about hormagaunts, of course, but it turned out he was mistaken about them—possibly about linderlings, too. Their story remains to be written. Clearly fascinated by the kind of invention hinted at above, Dr. The entries are short, averaging no more than twenty words and rarely reaching as many as a hundred. They add nothing to what one finds in Vance, and were not intended to do so.

They seem rather an index than an encyclopedia, and an index to essentially unrelated material.

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There is no doubt that this has been a labor of love, but there is more effort in it than thought. One has to ask: is this, too, labor wasted? There are two arguments to suggest that it is not. It has been very easy, for instance, for this reviewer to check his fallible memory of items mentioned. Furthermore, the whole encyclopedia exists also in electronic form, as a data-base file searchable using askSam, a well-known database management program.

With this, as Walter E. A final point is that Edwin Mellen Press still presents a rather wasteful page, showing a good deal of white paper. These three volumes and plus pages could have been two and with no more than normal type-setting, with, one imagines, a considerable saving for the potential buyer.

Does Not Grok in Fullness. William H. Patterson, Jr. Yet the pitfall of tendentious argument is nothing to the abyss that opens up when consistency is refused altogether. If there is no method, no defined approach, then critics, to be sure, will never cast a false light on their subject. But that is only because they have chosen to work in the dark. This book is benighted in that way.

Tracing his ideas is a complex Unfortunately, this is a fair description of the book that ensues. There is no sustained analysis of the style, plot, or characterization of Stranger in a Strange Land. Much of the book is preempted by exposition of these philosophical and religious ideas, though the writing is so eccentric that even a reader seeking this kind of distant background information will close the book more puzzled than enlightened.

The discussion of genres is similarly sketchy and willful.

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Genres and contexts of lower perceived status are given short shrift. Heinlein does practice a sly art and he suspects that he does it rather well, as may be seen in his sympathetic portrayal of tricksters who create illusions that astonish even themselves. But calling Heinlein an artist does not do the work of establishing his artistry through coherent analysis of how his fiction is constructed.

Jubal is patron saint of makers of musical instruments , producing this associative flight:. The ethos of music has been taken over in our time by fiction, and a maker of musical instruments would translate to a maker of printing equipment. Twain was a printer in his earliest job Yet the topic of sex is approached quite vaguely.

The authors here have only half-mastered the languages of literary and cultural analysis, limiting the usefulness of what has evidently been a great deal of work and study. The sporadic but intriguing discussion of James Branch Cabell— Jurgen: A Comedy of Justice was published in —invites a more sustained future analysis. An Array of Austrian SF. Franz Rottensteiner, ed. The Best of Austrian Science Fiction.

Riverside, CA: Ariadne Press, Science-fiction literature is almost exclusively associated with authors from the English-speaking world—a judgment that is confirmed by a quick look at the list of Hugo Award winners. Occasionally, the odd book by a foreign writer is translated but that is about all. The stories are excellently translated by Todd C. Hanlin, with only an occasional echo of the original German noticeable. Since Austrian writers are obliged to publish through German publishing companies and turn to the much broader German market in general, there is a tendency among them to move to Germany.

Their writing thus becomes part of sf in German, influenced by it and, one hopes, influencing it, though perhaps sacrificing specific national characteristics in the process. Other central writers described in some detail are Herbert W. This made me wonder who is considered a young writer in Austria; the majority of the writers included in the anthology are between 50 and 70 years of age, and none is younger than A short note on each of the stories to explain why it merits inclusion would not have been amiss.

While there are some really good stories in this anthology, many seem derivative and a few are downright unexciting. Rottensteiner points out in the preface that sf writers in Austria generally cannot make a living from their writing the exception to this, Ernst Vlcek, is not included in this anthology. Regrettably, the publishing information is incomplete, which makes it difficult to say exactly how old some of these stories are. Original titles are not given, nor is the date of first publication given for some of the stories. I am not sure if this is the best of Austrian science fiction—the selection seems too narrow in more ways than one—but it gives a good introduction to the historical background and to the field in general, and provides some quite interesting stories.

On the whole, however, and unfortunately, I suspect that The Best of Austrian Science Fiction is going to be just another one of those occasional and odd foreign books. Ziauddin Sardar and Sean Cubitt, eds. London: Pluto Press, Aliens R Us is a collection of ten essays addressing the images of otherness in recent sf films and two TV series by twelve authors, most of whom do not seem to have backgrounds in either sf or film studies. This results in a small number of errors of fact, an innocence of sf theory and, occasionally, of film theory , a recurring tendency to lose sight of the films under discussion, and some unusual and often rewarding perspectives.

Science fiction is the fiction of mortgaged futures. The basic components of sf, Sardar argues, exist in all cultures, yet sf does not. In , Hollywood depicted American know-how launching a manned atomic-powered rocketship in Destination Moon in order to gain a strategic advantage over "you-know-who", just as suspicion fell on the Soviets in The Flying Saucer when a security chief announces that the mysterious saucer "appears designed for one purpose -- to carry an atomic bomb".


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When an atomic rocket flies over an uncharted island in The Lost Continent and is brought down to earth by an unknown radioactive-volcanic force whose potential explosive might is equated to that of a stockpile of H-bombs, one scientist suggests that when the ship ran out of fuel, it was drawn inevitably towards fields of uranium! This naivety towards all things radioactive also served to underpin one of the first deliberate nuclear comedies, Mr. Drake's Duck later reworked by Disney as the Million Dollar Duck , in which the goose that lays the golden egg fairytale is upgraded to a duck that produces radioactive eggs of almost pure uranium.

Similarly, a year earlier Laurel and Hardy's comedic 'last hurrah' witnessed Stan and Ollie inheriting a uranium-rich Pacific island in Utopia The ensuing popularity of the monster-mutation cycle which commenced with the dinosaur in The Beast from 20, Fathoms and the giant ants in Them! Cow From Hell As Susan Sontag argues in her seminal essay on post-World War II science fiction cinema: One gets the feeling, particularly in the Japanese films but not only there, that a mass trauma exists over the use of nuclear weapons and the possibility of future nuclear wars.

Most of the science fiction films bear witness to this trauma, and, in a way, attempt to exorcise it. The accidental awakening of the super-destructive monster, who has slept in the earth since prehistory, is, often, an obvious metaphor for the Bomb. But there may be explicit references as well Radiation casualties -- ultimately, the conception of the whole world as a casualty of nuclear testing and nuclear warfare -- is the most ominous of all the notions with which science fiction films deal.

Ranging from the prehistoric Rhedosaurus awoken from its Arctic slumber by a bad American atomic test and subsequently killed by a good radioactive medical isotope in The Beast from 20, Fathoms which effectively polarized the scientific dualism of the nuclear genie and the bureaucracies who command it , through to the bird-like "thing which can kill by its touch" in Roger Corman's meta-neolithic parable Teenage Caveman , the unnatural though previously wholesome nuclear victims, usually subjected to fall-out, provided a staple metaphor of runaway technology and nuclear paranoia for a generation.

The Revenge-of-Nature has been a predominant theme throughout human mythology and it is hardly surprising to find film scenarists depicting Mother Earth fighting back against the obscenity of the atomic forces unleashed by mankind's folly. Cataclysmic wars had been prophesied in a number of pre-atomic films Intolerance, Things to Come , just as global catastrophes had thrilled audiences world-wide The Comet , Deluge and legendary or primal monsters Der Golem , King Kong -- which significantly had greater box-office appeal on its second release in threatened the very root of civilization with their wanton destruction, all effectively demonstrating what Freud described as our individual and collective social "discontents".

What we'll eventually find in that new world nobody can predict. Coinciding with these sentiments, Japan's Toho studios created one of the most successful and enduring movie monsters -- Godzilla -- which was greatly influenced by the re release of King Kong and The Beast from 20, Fathoms. So popular, in fact, that the creature has returned in over 16 features, and like his Western counterparts, Godzilla is awoken by an American atomic explosion and came from the sea to wreak havoc on Japan.

The initial film was such a box office draw that Toho began churning out formulaic monster movies in successive years, adding additional creatures such as Angurus , Rodan and then Mothra in , while other studios cloned these successes with Gamera etc. Japan also produced a series of nuclear related science fiction movies paralleling American and European ventures. In The Mysterious Satellite benign aliens implore the world powers to direct their atomic hostility away from each other and vent it towards a planet destined to collide with the Earth.

However, extraterrestrials bent only on destruction appeared in The Mysterians , arriving here to breed with healthy Earth women after their own planet has been obliterated by a nuclear catastrophe. Genre scenarios even focused upon regional nuclear testing and fallout effects which provide the source of conflict and horror in The H-Man after a ship is accidentally irradiated, turning the crew into oozing blobs. In Dogora, the Space Monster cells exposed to and mutated by radiation return to Earth as giant tentacled monsters and attack Japan. Yet, if these Japanese monsters are to be read as metaphors for the Bomb and concomitant nuclear destruction, while symbolizing America as a victorious, occupying and economic force literally re-shaping the country , it remains contentious as to why the films are so popular on both sides of the Pacific.

Atomic Bomb Cinema: The Apocalyptic Imagination on Film / Edition 1

Significantly, human victims in Western cinema traditionally have to reconcile the trauma of radioactive mutation in chosen or enforced isolation. The potency of exposure to nuclear materials often had bizarre consequences for the men subjected to it significantly rarely women, except in an act of retribution like the combustive Pandora's Box of Kiss Me Deadly , all indicating a subtext of sexual alienation.

The Incredible Shrinking Man 's title alone connotes an association of castration anxiety, after the main protagonist has passed through a phosphorescent atomic cloud. In The Atomic Kid , Mickey Rooney develops a tell-tale radioactive glow when sexually aroused, whereas being caught in the aftershock of a detonation leads to the frustrated impotence and compensatory violence of both The Amazing Colossal Man and The Most Dangerous Man Alive ; not released until Similarly, a defecting Soviet rocket scientist caught in a nuclear blast inexplicably turns into a menacing sex fiend in The Beast of Yucca Flats , just as the sexually perverse, cannibalistic patriarch of The Hills Have Eyes , left to die on an atomic testing ground, continued this genre theme well into the Seventies.

Interestingly, an early albeit dismissive portrayal of psychological trauma, i. The scenario was later revised at greater length in Enola Gay Apart from the often illogical and histrionic filmic approaches to atomic war, nuclear anxiety also manifested itself in guises other than the terrestrial monster. As Carl Jung has demonstrated in his pioneering study of the modern UFO, a phenomenon commencing almost immediately after World War II, flying saucer reports reflected a psychological projection of nuclear and cold war fears still apparent in Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.

There must be security for all or no one is secure. Now this does not mean giving up any freedom, except for the freedom to act irresponsibly. Your ancestors knew this when they made laws to govern themselves and hired policemen to enforce them. We, of the other planets, have long accepted this principle. We have an organization for the mutual protection of all planets for the complete elimination of aggression. The test of any such higher authority, is of course the police force that supports it.

For our policemen we created a race of robots. Their function is to patrol the planets in spaceships like this one and preserve the peace. In matters of aggression we have given them absolute power over us. This power cannot be revoked. At the first signs of violence they act automatically against the aggressor.

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The penalty for provoking their action is too terrible to risk. The result is we live in peace without arms or armies, secure in the knowledge that we are free from aggression and war, free to pursue more profitable enterprises. Now, we do not pretend to have achieved perfection, but we do have a system, and it works. I came here to give you these facts. It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet, but if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder.

Your choice is simple: join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration. Similarly, films such as The Stranger from Venus , The 27th Day , The Space Children and The Cosmic Man all concocted versions of the alien 'other' to foreground after the initial xenophobia dissipates the destructive force of these atomic weapons, our paradoxical blind allegiance to the false ethic of deterrence and a gloomy, prophetic fate if ignored. Just as Hollywood has avoided either naturalistic or dramatic depictions concerning the direct consequences of their atom bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki, surprisingly, as their Western-inspired monster and alien invasion movies attest, the Japanese also employed less direct means of rendering these historical calamities.

However, in the early s a brief sub-genre of melo dramas sought to address the personal and individual affects of the atomic warfare. In his provocative essay, Donald Riche typifies the dominant Japanese post-war sentiment as mono no aware , a type of resigned fatalism combined with a melancholy sense of transience: "what we feel today we forget tomorrow; this is not perhaps as it should be, but it is as it is".

The 'kiss and make up' nation-state attitude of Japan and the USA was personified dramatically by the allegorical romance in I'll not Forget the Song of Nagasaki between an American GI who visits the city and stays to help A-bomb refugees, eventually falling in love with a blind victim. The slow poisoning wrought by the invisible radioactivity also underscored the romance between a terminally ill young woman and her delinquent lover in A Story of Pure Love , a theme recently returned to in Yumechiyo Although the immediate, visible effects of the A-bombs were almost totally removed under post-war occupation and reconstruction, the theme of abnormality from radiation has recurred throughout mainstream Japanese dramas in the ensuing years.

In Lost Sex , for example, a young man struggles with the realization that he has become impotent from exposure to radiation, whereas more recently Sensie featured a school teacher who contracts leukemia and then movingly informs her pupils of the traumatic period she spent in Nagasaki -- an event which has continued to haunt her. His personal obsession and family resistance eventually drives him insane a situation also covered allegorically in The Mosquito Coast The Japanese also gave dramatic representation to the lethal characteristics of atmospheric nuclear testing in the ironically titled Lucky Dragon No.

No longer were giant insects and reptiles or other unconscious remnants of our collective nightmares dredged out quite as often to threaten the survival of our species. With the release of Marguerite Duras and Alain Resnais's profound Hiroshima Mon Amour to critical acclaim, a new modernist sensibility was found for the depiction of the horror of atomic weapons, which could only serve to counterpoint the naive optimism of racial and sexual harmony demonstrated in the closing sequences of The World, The Flesh and the Devil , and the resigned fatalism of On The Beach with its ironic and pitiful end message of "There is Still Time Brother" after we have witnessed the gradual, though absolute, demise of our species.

Both The World Like Sontag, Philip Strick has identified the individual and collective response to 'disaster' as a means of collapsing the complex social macrocosm into an individually intelligible and accessible form: The landscapes of disaster carry a powerful symbolic charge, representing not only the summation of former mistakes but also the prospects for rebuilding Above all, Armageddon simplifies: questions of morality and responsibility may legitimately be set aside in favour of basic matters like survival and the perpetuation of the species.

Inner strengths are confirmed by external emergencies. Whereas Hiroshima Mon Amour found a disjunctive yet poetic narrative mode to engender empathy towards its humanist perspective of the 'unthinkable' historical event, The Word, The Flesh, and The Devil, like Five had before it, opted for the familiar convention of vicariously obliterating oppressive social regimes -- personified in the matrix of our institutions and fellow co- inhabitants -- while keeping undamaged the empty physical structures appropriate for an eventual rebirth which generically was often literal.

Its motif of individual suicide government prescribed pills, asphyxiation, alcoholism etc. As the film's nuclear physicist reflects, "The war started when people accepted the idiotic principle that peace can be maintained by arranging to defend themselves with weapons they couldn't possibly use without committing suicide". The success and influence of these films during the s coincided with rapid technological advances ICBMs, nuclear fleets, satellite reconnaissance , simultaneous political events Korean War, invasion of Hungary , and a growing public awareness of and concern with political and strategic postures such as MAD Mutually Assured Destruction and Flexible Response.

Such issues were no longer the domain of the boffin. They pervaded the very forefront of our cultural consciousness, and, as the sadly humorous archival compilations The Atomic Cafe and No Place to Hide demonstrate, elaborate propaganda campaigns were initiated by governments and industry to dilute nuclear anxieties. Other popular media were responding to these social uncertainties and in many ways became the critical reflectors of our zeitgeist. For example, Tom Lehrer's satirical songs e.

The majority of the narratives such as Number Three , I Can Destroy the Sun , The Test and The Burning Glass , remade in concerned nuclear physicists torn between the importance of continuing their scientific enquiry and the potential horrors the technology could inflict if adversely exploited. Others depicted the events leading up to and after nuclear war, as in Course for Collision , remade in , Doomsday for Dyson and The Offshore Island However, it proved to be the new decade's superpower Cold War clashes in Berlin and Cuba that violently reintroduced the sublimated nuclear menace, and again the commercial cinema responded with a brief, albeit prolific, wave of films.

Respectively echoing both the resignation and rebirth themes of On the Beach and The World More explicit in their renderings of a global nuclear holocaust were two Japanese films of the period. In The Final War an accidental American atomic explosion over Korea escalates from a regional conflict into global war, just as pre-existing tensions in The Last War lead to an inevitable Superpower collision after a series of false alarms and near misses.

Simultaneous nuclear testing at both poles by the Soviets and Americans sent the Earth off not only its axis but also its orbit, plummeting the globe towards the sun in The Day the Earth Caught Fire The build up to an anticipated war, its confusion and the difficulty of maintaining social cohesion was foreshadowed in microcosm in This is not a Test which featured a State trooper sacrificing his life in order to protect a small band of travellers along a highway after an incoming attack is announced over the radio.

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A nuclear strike turned even the most 'innocent' of victims into atavistic barbarians, as witnessed in the patriarchal family fleeing Los Angeles during Panic in the Year Zero and the marooned public schoolboys' regression to savagery in Lord of the Flies , a motif recently returned to via the stranded children in Mad Max III: Beyond Thunderdome and the subterranean street urchins in Doris Lessing's entropic Memoirs of a Survivor Even the potential of nuclear war was shown to be catastrophic, especially for the younger generation.

In These are the Damned children who have been accidentally? In Poland's The Great Big World and Little Children, two children are abducted by aliens who prophesy a catastrophic war, whereas in Sun and Shadow from Bulgaria, two teenagers attempt a relationship but are thwarted by the girl's recurring dreams of nuclear oblivion.

In Ladybug, Ladybug a group of traumatized school children hide in family fall-out shelters awaiting a predicted attack, and argue over who is ganted entry. Public concern over the possible inadequacies of C 3 command, control and communications were graphically revealed by the ineffectual attempts to recall American planes laden with H-bombs before reaching their Soviet targets in Dr. Strangelove and Fail Safe Both films depict intrinsic weaknesses of the military and political safeguards meant to avert any possibility of unauthorized pre-emptive strikes against Russia, whether by a paranoid lower-echelon commander in the former movie, or via mechanical breakdown and Murphy's Law in the latter.

Surprisingly, few movies adopted direct nuclear themes regarding the Chinese and North Koreans during that war, especially considering President Eisenhower and General MacArthur's public overtures concerning the potential use of atomic bombs in the conflict; exceptions being I Want You and Hell and High Water Hence, Chinese communism under Mao became the focus of many Western scenarios of nuclear treachery and terrorism.

Even before the first Chinese bomb was detonated, a depressed pacifist cleric in Ingmar Bergman's Winter Light is driven insane by contemplating this outcome after one of his congregation commits suicide. In Operation Atlantis US and Russian agents team together to destroy a clandestine Chinese uranium enrichment plant operating in Africa. Similarly, the two superpowers work against Chinese nuclear capabilities in The Kremlin Letter , and an independent international team race to prevent an orbiting Chinese warhead from disrupting the delicate detente in Earth II In the mid-Sixties, both Russia and America were experimenting with rapid-launch missiles to counter approaching nuclear warheads in the event of an attack.

The development and reported deployment of an anti-ballistic missile system ABM also fuelled the imagination of scenarists looking for topical treatments in espionage dramas. Fear of atomic energy and weaponry was widespread throughout the world not long after the Second World War, and is reflected in the early movies of the period where secret government agents countered evil geniuses, such as Sir Eric Hazarias Lionel Atwill the arch-villain of Universal's aforementioned Lost City of the Jungle, and other saboteurs hell-bent on domination by employing nuclear technology.

After the initial foray Dick Barton, Special Agent , the hero reappeared in Dick Barton Strikes Back , foiling a plot by international subversives who have decimated British villages using a sophisticated atomic device which projects radioactive rays at its target from atop the nearby Blackpool Tower.

Following from pulp magazine and newspaper fiction, movies began concocting bizarre plots of foreign invasion and hostile acts against the Western Alliance by communist agents, often employing atomic weapons or some type of advanced nuclear technology. Indeed, such international fears were the raison d'etre for the existence of super-secret agencies e. As psychologist Joel Kovel maintains, the paranoia of the cold war commenced with the suspicions over atomic secrets, and "in this sense, the atomic bomb created the CIA.

The CIA owed its very existence to its promise to prevent surprises of this nature Given all the available information, any competent nuclear scientist would have realized that intelligence predictions of no Soviet nuclear bomb for ten to twenty years were ludicrous But the device of shifting blame for this intelligence failure to betrayal from within, allowed the CIA not only to survive, but actually to expand.

As a means of demonstrating the real, proximate threat of nuclear weapons and the effectiveness of Canada's 'cleaning-up' of an infamous and well-publicized communist spy conspiracy, a Republic serial Canadian Mounties vs. Atomic Invaders portrayed an undercover sergeant out to bait a Soviet espionage ring working in the frozen north.

By highlighting American territorial fears and reliance upon Allied support, this precursory serial envisaged the spies planning to build rocket-launching platforms from which to rain nuclear missiles down upon American and Canadian cities foreshadowing the Cuban Missile crisis a decade later. More attuned to the introspective domestic fear-mongering was the device of discovering communist operatives planning to destroy American cities from within. Such scenarios were commonly forecast in the immediate post-Hiroshima climate. In , when asked by Congress for an instrument to detect atom bomb components being smuggled into the country, Robert Openheimer replied that there already existed one: the screwdriver, which would be needed for every crate and every container brought into every American port.

The first feature to adopt this premise was The 49th Man , an effective thriller which featured a Security Investigation agent trailing enemy subversives who plan to detonate an atomic bomb in a sensitive area of the USA. Similarly, in Port of Hell a Los Angeles Harbour Inspector and his partner discover a docked freighter contains an atomic bomb, to be detonated off-shore by foreign agents. The same theme of internal defence vulnerability occurred later in post-Bond influenced treatments such as Dimension 5 in which a US secret agent and his Asian assistant are transported a few weeks into the future using time-travel belts in order to save Los Angeles from a communist Chinese atomic bomb.


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A year later Panic in the City , had downtown L. Of all films tackling the theme, a neo-cold war film of the Eighties, Britain's The Fourth Protocol adapted by Frederick Forsyth from his own best-seller, was perhaps the most ideologically odious. The whole premise of the film posits the existence of a secret non-proliferation protocol forbidding both superpowers from any such covert action, but a renegade Soviet KGB official breaks the rule.

Without doubt Ian Fleming's literary spy figure of James Bond as British secret service agent , and his subsequent transformation into celluloid screen persona, has made this character the most enduring and popular of post-war heroes. What is perhaps most remarkable about Bond, especially in the film arena, is his international and cross-cultural appeal, attaining the near-real status of celebrity, seldom achieved by a ficticious character.


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  • Although borrowed from this established tradition, the formulaic character of Bond as devised by Fleming, and later remolded by film producer Albert R. Broccoli, diverged to form a modern super-hero, more reliant upon technological aids and raw, athletic instinct than innate intellect and finesse. Bond became the status quo's indestructible foil pitted against the oppressive forces threatening Western establishment with domination.

    At a time when Britain was rapidly losing its position as a world powerbroker, ironically, by depicting Bond single-handed and clandestinely defending the geopolitical course, Fleming's imaginary creation first published in recaptivated a popular sense of English pride in its capacity to shape international affairs.