Warning: this node contains spoilers for the story "Thunder and Roses"

Title of a short story by Theodore Sturgeon. In the story, published while the United States still controlled all the nuclear weapons in the world, Sturgeon predicts the nuclear arms race, and the eventual use of nuclear weapons. Set after the United States is hit by 530 atomic bombs, wiping out most of the population, the story centers around Sargeant Pete Mawser who has found the last switch to launch the US response. As the story progresses, he meets a singer who is looking for the last switch to destroy it, so that the US won't drop to the level of its enemies, and one of his friends who wants to launch the weapons in retaliation. In the end, despite the singer's death due to injuries suffered during the bombing, the protagonist stops the bombs from being launched and disables the switch.

"Thunder and Roses", published in 1947, was ahead of its time in many ways. In addition to predicting the arms race before any other country possessed nuclear weapons, it also was one of the earlier stories to focus on the character development that would later be "discovered" by science fiction writers in the 1960s and 70s. Its ending leads us to question the whole arms race philosophy: if we recognize that Pete was right not to finish wiping out life on earth, was there ever a reason to build the weapons in the first place?

The title comes from the following song, which appears midway through the story:

When you gave me your heart, you gave me the world,
You gave me the night and day,
And thunder, and roses, and sweet green grass,
The sea, and soft wet clay.

I drank the dawn from a golden cup,
From a silver one, the dark,
The steed I rode was the wild west wind,
My song was the brook and the lark.

With thunder I smote the evil of earth,
With roses I won the right
With the sea I washed, and with clay I built,
And the world was a place of light!

Science Fiction: the Science Fiction Research Association Anthology, edited by Warrick, Waugh and Greenberg, was consulted in the composition of this node.

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