Frank, Pat

Tagged: Author

Pseudonym of US journalist and author Harry Hart Frank (1907-1964) who served as a government official during World War Two, later serving with the UN. Though his three sf novels are well known within the field, Frank was not generally identified as an sf author. His first novel, Mr Adam (1946), exploits the fears of contamination felt in the USA after Hiroshima. All men but one are sterilized by a nuclear Disaster; the experiences of the sole fertile male are rather feebly rendered as comical, providing grounds for a Satire on government procedures. Forbidden Area (1956; vt Seven Days to Never 1957) also deals – more grimly – with the atomic question, in a thriller plot involving sabotage and near-Holocaust. In his most famous novel, Alas, Babylon (1959), the Disaster is again nuclear, but this time – after a US missile has brought down a Soviet spy plane – events spiral into full-scale war. In a part of Florida that has survived the first consequences of nuclear war between American and the USSR, the inhabitants of a small town named Fort Repose manage, perhaps rather implausibly, to cope (see Pastoral; Robinsonade; Survivalist Fiction) under the inspirational but modest leadership of the protagonist, and modestly to flourish; domestic verisimilitude and apocalypse mingle here attractively, and the book was both made into a play and televised. Frank's work draws its clear emotional force from the deep fears of nuclear devastation many Americans suffered, with some cause, during the 1950s; its long-term popularity perhaps derives from the guarded hopefulness of its conclusion, though of course New York, the Babylon of the title, is gone for ever. [JC]

Harry Hart Frank

born Chicago, Illinois: 5 May 1907

died Jacksonville, Florida: 12 October 1964

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