Ward Moore (1903-1978) published five novels in the field, beginning with Greener Than You Think (1947). (He also wrote significant non-SF work, including Breathe the Air Again and Cloud by Day.) His most famous novel by far is Bring the Jubilee (1953), a very well-regarded alternate history in which the South wins the Civil War. He is also remembered for his last novel, Joyleg (1962), a collaboration with Avram Davidson, about a Revolutionary War veteran discovered to be still alive in the present time; and for a stunning post-Apolacyptic (or "during the Apocalypse") story, "Lot", along with its sequel, "Lot's Daughter". As a writer he started late and finished early, with the great bulk of his fiction appearing between 1947 and 1962 (though a few more stories appeared in the '70s). His second wife was Raylyn Moore, whom I remember for a fair amount of enjoyable SF stories from the '70s.
Here's a collection -- too short, I dare say -- of things I've written about some of Ward Moore's work. Moore's birthday was August 10, so this is a bit late. But I do want to keep emphasizing the work of these minor but interesting writers.
F&SF, May 1953
"Lot", by Ward Moore, is a quite remarkable post-Apocalyptic story. Arthur Jimmon has planned for nuclear war, and when it comes he and his family are ready to escape. But as they travel, with supplies, to Jimmon's planned refuge, his family complain and complain. Jimmon seems the true competent man, well-prepared -- and ready to coldly dispense with any interference. I won't spoil the ending, but it's truly shocking. The story is actually a bitter, horrified look at a certain kind of man -- it's something like satire, something like savage condemnation. It's a powerful story. There was a sequel, "Lot's Daughter", almost as strong. The two were the source material for the move Panic in Year Zero!, which apparently leached all the vicious power of the story from it.
F&SF, September 1955
Ward Moore's "Old Story" (6700 words) is quite good. An aging popular painter, also a philanderer, reflects on his unsatisfying life -- his failure to establish an enduring relationship with any of his three wives, and his lack of critical appreciation. If only he had chosen the right woman back then, he'd have stuck with "real" art ... Then he finds himself back in his younger self, at the critical point. And he chooses a different woman, and indeed life is very different -- he becomes a lionized artist, and a successful businessman as well. (Sort of a Wallace Stevens of the art world.) But he's the same person, which means that despite his tolerant wife, he can't stop fooling around. Still, he comes to the end of a happy life -- but then ... The twist is a good one, and quite forthrightly feminist.
Amazing, February 1960
|(Cover by Ed Valigursky)|
|(Cover by Ed Emshwiller)|
Fantastic, March and April 1962
Joyleg, by Avram Davidson and Ward Moore, is an enjoyable novel about a man, Isachar Joyleg, who is discovered to be collecting a Civil War pension. As the war has been over for nearly a century, surely he's a fraud. Two congresspeople, a man and a woman, go to investigate (because which district his old village is in is unclear). They learn (not much of a spoiler) that Joyleg is as old as he claims, due to a concoction of his. We get to see life in this old town, and all this is amusing, and fairly on point. The congresspeople are decent characters too. That said, the story loses momentum along the way, and while it's well worth reading through, parts of the last half are a bit tired.