Hell-Fire is a book that was written by author, Isaac Asimov of the United States, and short story with a science fiction theme. The book was first published in the spring of 1956 edition of Fantastic Universe with subsequent reprints appearing in the collection Earth is Room Enough in 1957. The basis of the story is a concern for the use of nuclear arms and he wrote other stories with a similar theme in the 50’s including “Darwinian Pool Room” as well as “Silly Asses”.
Essentially the book’s plot surrounds the experience of Alvin Horner who is a journalist. He interviews a scientist in Los Alamos, a Joseph Vincenzo, at the first film exhibit that captures the slow motion unfolding of the damage and devastation created by a nuclear bomb explosion. The scientist describes the bombs and the resultant damage they create as “hell-fire” and expresses to Horner that he believes they will be the eventual demise of all humankind. Following the conversation between the two, the footage of the explosion begins and as the bomb detonates, for a brief second, prior to it assuming its legendary mushroom shape, the blast takes on the face of the Devil.
The author, now deceased since 1992, was born in 1920 and was in his 30’s when he wrote the short story. This is an age where many men consider the state of the world and form their own theories and ideals. As an American author, Asimov was also a professor at the University of Boston, with a specialization in biochemistry. He is well regarded for his prolific science fiction work and his books on science. It seemed that he never stopped writing as his work includes the authorship and editing of more than 500 books as well as an additional 90,000 shorter essays. He is regarded one of the masters of the science fiction genre in his lifetime along with others such as Arthur Clarke or Bob Heinlein and is most recognized for the Foundation Series but also the less popular Robot and Galactic Series. The series incorporate the subjects of a future history much like his contemporaries. He was the author of hundreds of other short stories and in 1964 “Nightfall” was voted as the best short science fiction story of all time by the Science Fiction Writer of America. Aside from the works written under his own name, he also produced other works for kids under the pseudonym Paul French. Additionally, he authored much nonfiction, fantasy and mysteries. His work cites very specific details around famous scientists, their theories as well etymologies and technical glossary.
He is also recognized as having been the vice president and long time member of the Mensa Society although he was reluctant to identify strongly with the group, describing other members as “aggressive with their IQ’s” which is perhaps a politically correct way of saying that they were pompous. His great pride was the work that he accomplished as president of the American Humanist Association. To commemorate his contribution to science and fiction, a crater on Mars, an asteroid, a literary award and a school in Brooklyn all bear his name in honor.