Carol Strum in Department of the Planet Earth:
After fleeing Nazi persecution in 1933, Hungarian-born physicist Leo Szilard invented – and patented – the process for neutron chain reaction that would release the power of the atom. He subsequently assigned the patent to the British Admiralty in order to keep it from the Nazis. Later, goaded by fears that Germany would develop its own atomic weapons, Szilard moved to the U.S. and worked feverishly on the secret Manhattan Project, proving that a chain reaction could be initiated and developing the first atomic bombs.
Szilard was more than a physicist, however. With astonishing prescience, he foresaw the deadly political implications of atomic weaponry, the near-certainty of a nuclear arms race, and the threat such weapons posed to humanity and all life. Before the American bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he argued passionately against their use on inhabited targets. Appalled at the results of those bombs, he spent the rest of his life desperately trying to cork the terrible genie his invention had unleashed.
Undeterred by official refusals to take his warnings seriously, the irrepressible Szilard turned to fiction to deliver his message. The Voice of the Dolphins collects stories published between 1949 and 1961 in The University of Chicago Magazine, University of Chicago Law Review, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and other journals. The satire, humor, and serious issues in these stories are as relevant today as they were forty-some years ago – a sorry reflection on our failure to heed the words of the wise.