Ground Zero Man

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First edition (publ. Avon Books)
Cover art by Vincent Di Fate

Ground Zero Man is a science fiction novel by Bob Shaw, first published in 1971, and then revised as The Peace Machine in 1985.

The plot follows the main character, Lucas Hutchman, an "undistinguished mathematician", who invents a machine that may detonate virtually instantaneously every nuclear bomb in the world, by inducing a "self-propagating neutron resonance". Overcoming technical and personal difficulties, Hutchman manages to build the device and to warn Earth's governments of its existence, but is tracked down and prevented to use it. At the end, Hutchman realises that rather than to the elimination of nuclear weapons, his invention just led to further investments in them, to create new bombs impervious to neutron resonance.

The ending "shows precisely and prophetically . . . the flaw in [the Eighties'] plans for 'star wars' energy-beam defences"[1]


  1. ^ David Langford, "Spring Fever" in White Dwarf, issue 65, May 1985; also in Langford, David (2002). The Complete Critical Assembly. Cosmos Books. pp. 91–93. ISBN 1587153300.