Moore, Ward

Tagged: Author

(1903-1978) US writer, married to Raylyn Moore and 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 a mutated form of grass which absorbs first Los Angeles (> California) and then the entire world while governments dither. His most famous sf tale, Bring the Jubilee (November 1952 F&SF; exp 1953), became the definitive Alternate-History novel (it is 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 of the Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg, victory in which had won the entire conflict for the South. At this crucial Jonbar 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 – as it were "alternate" – 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 influenced dozens of successor tales in which the Civil War is manipulated for reasons of controversy or nostalgia.

Caduceus Wild (January-May 1959 Science Fiction Stories with Robert Bradford; rev 1978) is a medical Dystopia whose book publication was long delayed. Moore's only collaboration, Joyleg (March-April 1962 Fantastic; 1962) with Avram Davidson, returns to a nostalgic view of the USA, this time to comic effect, through the story of the eponymous Immortal living deep in the Appalachians, who is tracked down by bureaucrats 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 complications due to government pettifoggery (a favoured target in American sf) become tedious. Moore 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.

Moore also wrote Lot & Lot's Daughter (fixup 1996 chap), which combines two of the most notable stories describing nuclear Holocaust and its Post-Holocaust consequences, "Lot" (May 1953 F&SF; vt "Panic in Year Zero" in Space Movies: Classic Science Fiction Films, anth 1995, ed Peter Haining) and "Lot's Daughter" (October 1954 F&SF), featuring a great motorized exodus from a doomed Los Angeles (> California), 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. [JC/PN]

see also: Disaster; Ecology; End of the World; The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction; Mars; Pastoral; Taboos.

Joseph Ward Moore

born Madison, New Jersey: 10 August 1903

died Pacific Grove, California: 29 January 1978

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