Thursday, October 09, 2008

Aaron's Book of the Week :: Nerves by Lester del Rey

NervesThe Book of the Week is the 1956 paperback original edition of Nerves by Lester del Rey, with cover by legendary artist Richard Powers (with a less surreal illustration than most of his).

Nerves is a great example of a prophetic science fiction story. It concerns an accident at a nuclear power plant, similar to the Chernobyl disaster. The book describes the awful effects of radiation sickness in detail, and raises the concern that a nuclear accident might contaminate a large swath of the countryside. That would be impressive enough for a 1956 book, but the magazine version of the story first appeared in 1942. Lester del Rey was writing a cautionary story about the dangers of a nuclear power plant accident many years before the first commercial nuclear power plant was built.

The Book of the Week was published by Ballantine Books, one of the major science fiction publishers of the time. In 1977, the Ballantine SF/F line was renamed "Del Rey Books," in honor of Lester del Rey and his wife Judy-Lynn, who had become the lead editors at Ballantine. The Del Rey imprint remains one of the major SF/F publishers to this day. Next week, however, we will return to the much smaller Regency Books, with my favorite from that odd publisher's list.

No comments: