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Lewis, Jeffrey

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

(?   -    ) US academic, expert on nuclear nonproliferation and convenor of the Arms Control Wonk blog and podcast, occasionally billed as Dr Jeffrey Lewis or Jeffrey Lewis, PhD, seemingly to distinguish him from a screenwriter of the same name. His early work, such as What if Space Were Weaponized?: possible consequences for crisis scenarios (2004), often skirts around Prediction and Futures Studies, concentrating on space programmes and likely spin-offs in the availability and application of missile Technology.

His newspaper article "This is how nuclear war with North Korea would unfold" (8 December 2017 Washington Post) applied his expertise "based on public statements, intelligence reports and blast-zone maps", but also speculated on the possible impact of the undiplomatic presence of President Donald Trump in the Media Landscape, to a Near Future Disaster. The subsequent Fixup, The 2020 Commission Report on the North Korean Nuclear Attacks on the United States: A Speculative Novel (fixup 2018) is strongly and seemingly inadvertently redolent of many earlier works on Future War, and pointedly eschews consideration of World War Three in favour of the dangers of the far-ranging side-effects of even a "limited" nuclear exchange. Its cover deliberately evokes the dry, typographic presentation of a government paper, although its contents swiftly veer from a pastiche of nonfiction documents into a polemical but often playful satire in the vein of Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1963), directed by Stanley Kubrick. Many of Lewis's insights are drawn from direct experience, such as the selection of likely targets from maps glimpsed in North Korean briefings, although his Fabulation is occasionally distracted by an injection of dark humour – the nicknaming of a new military initiative as "Ivanka's new line of kitchenware", glibly belittling a dangerous escalation with naturalistic and wholly believable levity until later chapters turn to grim realism in the fashion of The Day After (1983), directed by Michael Meyer. Ultimately, Lewis shows his hand as a Mainstream Writer of SF, less interested in the form than in the opportunity it presents to impart warning content, drawing heavily on precedents from the twentieth century (see History in SF) – particularly the work of John Hersey in Hiroshima (1946). [JonC]

see also: George Friedman.

Jeffrey G Lewis





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