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By Pat Frank

"Alas, Babylon." these fateful phrases heralded the tip. whilst a nuclear holocaust ravages the USA, one thousand years of civilization are stripped away in a single day, and thousands and thousands of individuals are killed immediately. yet for one small city in Florida, miraculously spared, the fight is simply starting, as women and men of all backgrounds subscribe to jointly to confront the darkness.

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Zamyatin’s remarks imply that in his view science fiction and what we now call dystopian fiction, at least at their inception, were actually one and the same thing. Mark R. Hillegas’s assertion that “the great anti-utopias of the twentieth century” are a part of a “single kind of fiction, for which there is no other name than science fiction,” might in this regard be said to follow the lead provided by Zamyatin‘s essay on H. G. 104 It should be noted that Zamyatin’s and Hillegas’s identification of the two genres of science fiction and dystopian literature has been subjected to criticism.

As we shall see, however, it is arguable that such a characterization of Zamyatin’s understanding of Wells would be inaccurate. For it might be suggested that there is more to Wells’s works of science fiction, as Zamyatin understands them, than the fact that they are literary dystopias, if by that expression one means simply a text which represents an intellectual inversion of the traditional literary utopia. The second feature which Zamyatin associates with the works of Wells, and with science fiction generally, has to do with their aesthetic form, or with the style of writing adopted by their author.

Bailey, Basil Davenport, Carl Freedman, Elizabeth Hansot, George Kateb, A. L. 3 Second, there are those who overlook the utopian nature of Wells’s more “optimistic” later writings, from A Modern Utopia onward, and who in consequence locate Wells, again unequivocally, within the dystopian tradition. For these commentators it is the dystopian writer of the 1890s who is the “real” or authentic H. G. Wells. As we shall see, this category includes Yevgeny Zamyatin. 5 Our remaining categories contain commentators who claim that Wells was both a utopian and a dystopian writer.

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