MOORE, (Joseph) Ward

MOORE, (Joseph) Ward
   US writer, initially as well known for his works outside the sf field - like the picaresque Breathe the Air Again (1942) - as for those within. Although he contributed only infrequently to the field, each of his books became something of a classic. His first sf publication was Greener Than You Think (1947; cut 1961), a successful comic SATIRE about amutated form of grass which absorbs the entire world while governments dither. His second and most famous sf tale, BRING THE JUBILEE (1953), became the definitive ALTERNATE-WORLDS novel (also a TIME-TRAVEL story) in which the South wins the American Civil War. After describing his depressed world, an eminent historian from the disinherited Northern States is given the chance to travel back in time to the vital moment ofthe Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg, victory in which had won the entire conflict for the South. At this crucial point, the narrator's own actions change history, the South loses the battle, and he is caught in the "past" (because his time machine will not be invented in the new future that has been created); in our own 1877 he writes out his narrative of the history he has changed, and the manuscript is discovered and published in 1953. Concise and elegiac, BRING THE JUBILEE has generated dozens of successor tales in which the Civil War is manipulated for reasons of controversy or nostalgia. WM's third novel, Caduceus Wild (1959 Science Fiction Stories as with Robert Bradford; rev 1978) is a medicalDYSTOPIA whose book publication was long delayed. His final book, Joyleg (1962) with Avram DAVIDSON, returns to a nostalgic view of the USA, this time to comic effect, through the story of the eponymous immortal, who is found in this century living deep in the Appalachians because he claims to remain entitled to his Revolutionary War pension. His discoverers learn that a special brew keeps him young, from which point in the novel bureaucratic complications become tedious. WM was not a professional genre writer, and as a possible consequence much of his work seemed to have been written (and certainly it read) as though carefully and leisurely composed for his own pleasure.WM also wrote two of the most notable stories describing nuclear HOLOCAUST and its consequences, "Lot" (1953) and "Lot's Daughter" (1954), featuring a great motorized exodus from a doomed LosAngeles, seen through biblical parallelism as the city of Sodom. The hero jettisons his irredeemably suburban wife and his sons and goes on to make a new and incestuous life with his daughter in the mountains. The ironies attached to his monstrous SURVIVALISM are savage. The stories were used as an uncredited basis for the film PANIC IN YEAR ZERO (1962), losing much of their power in the cleaning-up process.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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