George, Peter

Tagged: Author

(1924-1966) UK author and ex-RAF officer whose life and career seem to have been dominated by the topic of nuclear World War Three and its consequences. His best-known sf novel, Two Hours to Doom (1958; vt Red Alert 1958) as by Peter Bryant, was a straightforward story in which a war, inaugurated unilaterally by a general applying the principle of pre-emptive defence (an argument which George presents as demonstrating the general's dementia), almost leads to worldwide Holocaust; when the last bomber is shot down, at the last minute, before it can destroy Moscow, the pre-arranged retributive destruction of an American city is averted. The similarities between this novel and Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler's Fail-Safe (13-27 October 1962 Saturday Evening Post; 1962) were so great that George sued for plagiarism, gaining an out-of-court settlement; the films based on the two novels were ultimately released in the same year, 1964 (though filmed first, Dr. Strangelove was delayed because of the assassination of President Kennedy). George may also have had some mixed feelings about the satirical transmogrification of his uncomical narrative into Stanley Kubrick's brilliant Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), in which doomsday is neither averted at the last moment nor entirely unwelcomed. The novelization, Dr. Strangelove: or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1963), was credited solely to George, though the influence of Terry Southern, who co-wrote the filmscript, is everywhere evident.

A further sf novel, Commander-1 (1965), follows the desperate Post-Holocaust life of survivors after a nuclear war. George's suicide followed soon after, during the composition of yet another novel on the same theme, to have been entitled «Nuclear Survivors». [JC]

see also: End of the World; Scientists.

Peter Bryan George

born Treorchy, Wales: 26 March 1924

died Hastings, East Sussex: 1 June 1966

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