The Clockwork Atom Bomb
by Dominic Green
• Word count: 7367
• Page count: 19
The Clockwork Atom Bomb, a science fiction short story by Dominic Green, was nominated for the 2006 Hugo Award for Best Short Story. It is about a UN Weapons Inspector who finds several powerful and illegal devices deep in the heart of Africa.
The story follows Mativi, a UN Weapons Inspector who is in Kinshasa and discovers several devices left over from a Congolese war. When he tries to bring in help to remove the rogue weapons, he finds himself in the cross hairs of people who are angry that he is trying to disrupt their economy.
Brilliantly set in post-war Africa, The Clockwork Atom Bomb explores the idea of what could happen if governments and people go to any length to obtain technology they don’t understand and don’t respect. A deeply contemplative story which may keep you awake at nights hoping that powerful weapons don’t fall into the wrong hands.
“WHAT DID IT DO TO CLAUDE, WHEN IT TOOK HIM?” said Mativi. He could not see any damage to the walls around the third machine beyond, perhaps, a certain swept-clean quality of the dust on the floor around it.
“IT TOOK HIM”, said the girl. “IT MADE HIM SMALL. IT SUCKED HIM UP.”
“THE MACHINES”, said Mativi in broken Lingala. “THEY ARE COVERED WITH…WITH THINGS.”
The heads of the chess-pawns, under the light of Mativi’s torch, were surrealistically coiffeured with assorted objects – spanners, wire, door furniture, and, worryingly, a single fragmentation grenade. Many, perhaps more than half of the things were ferrous metal. But some looked like aluminium. Some were even bits of wood or plaster.
Not just magnetism, then.
Where you can find The Clockwork Atom Bomb:
•The Clockwork Atom Bomb originally appeared in the May/June 2005 (#198) issue of Interzone.
•It was reprinted in the collected works of the 23rd edition of The Year’s Best Science Fiction.
•A nice pdf version of The Clockwork Atom Bomb can be found at TheShortStory.org. They also have a version in Microsoft Word format.
The author of The Clockwork Atom Bomb, Dominic Green, is an IT worker who teaches Kung Fu. Check out the biography on his web page to learn more about him.