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Irish Science Fiction$
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Jack Fennell

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781781381199

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781381199.001.0001

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The 1960s: Lemass, Modernisation and the Cold War

The 1960s: Lemass, Modernisation and the Cold War

(p.133) 5. The 1960s: Lemass, Modernisation and the Cold War
Irish Science Fiction

Jack Fennell


Following the War, Irish culture began to shed its distrust of the modern world. The catalyst Taoiseach Seán Lemass’ Fianna Fáil government, under which Irish society was modernized and fundamentalist Catholicism waned. This chapter examines period’s science fiction texts, beginning with Cathal Ó Sándair’s Captaen Spéirling - a Gaelic pulp hero who travelled the solar system, establishing new trade routes and bringing down corrupt alien regimes. These space opera adventures aimed to show an Irish-speaker doing the things that American and British heroes were, demonstrating there was no reason why the Irish shouldn’t have similar aspirations. However, there were glimpses of disaster: Ó Sándair seems to predict the Cold War Cuban Missile Crisis, and describes a planet-engulfing firestorm elsewhere with obvious overtones of nuclear war. This chapter also considers authors like Flann O’Brien and Brian Moore, who regard the Catholic social teaching’s decline with trepidation and predict less literal apocalypses.

Keywords:   Sean Lemass, Fianna Fail, Cathal O Sandair’s, Captaen Speirling, pulp, Cold War, nuclear war, space opera, Flann Obrien, Brian Moore

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