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Cosy Catastrophe

Entry updated 29 May 2020. Tagged: Theme.

A term coined by Brian W Aldiss in Billion Year Spree (1973) to describe the supposedly comforting ambience shed by the sort of Disaster tale told by UK writers like John Wyndham (see also Holocaust; Post-Holocaust). Though later critical work on Wyndham has emphasized the ambiguities and darknesses of his work, the term remains convenient as a pointer to a period in the UK when certain solaces were sought by readers – or viewers of later episodes of Survivors (1975-1977) created by Terry Nation – whether or not they found what they were looking for. It is not perhaps a term to fully merit a retrofit historizing of Aldiss's impulsive insight, though certainly Pastoral tales like Richard Jefferies's After London or Wild England (1885) or E M Forster's "The Machine Stops" (November 1909 The Oxford and Cambridge Review) might be understood as paving the way. [JC]

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