Children of the Atom by Wilmar Shiras

Wilmar Shiras’s Children of the Atom is a hard book to come by. It had been out of print for quite some time un­til rel­a­tive­ly re­cent­ly. I now on­ly have four books left to read on this list. Thankfully, I can find them all in the Cleveland li­brary sys­tem.

Apparently this nov­el served as a foun­da­tion and cre­ative spark for The X-men com­ic. A bunch of ado­les­cents turn out to be su­per-ge­nius­es due to some ra­di­a­tion ac­ci­dent that end­ed up killing all of their par­ents. They’ve all been forced, to some de­gree or an­oth­er, to hide their lit­er­al­ly in­cal­cuable men­tal largesse from so­ci­ety. A psy­chol­o­gist tum­bles to this fact with one boy, be­friends him, finds out the back­ground, and starts to search for oth­er kids like this. The group he fi­nal­ly gets to­geth­er is filled with ge­nius­es of dif­fer­ing tal­ents and dif­fer­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal sta­bil­i­ty. Some lu­natic tel­e­van­ge­list calls them witch­es, but they defuse/​diffuse the mob that comes to get them and de­cide to remingle with so­ci­ety in or­der that peo­ple will be less like­ly to hate what they do not know.

As the writ­ing goes, it is very sim­ple 1950s style, al­most like a young adult sci­ence fic­tion nov­el, but there are con­ver­sa­tions among the kids that read more like some of my blog posts. They de­bate Aquinas quite a bit, rip apart Poe’s The Raven and jump from de­bat­ing Absolute Zero ther­mo­dy­nam­i­cal­ly against Absolute Zero math­e­mat­i­cal­ly, to a de­bate on The Absolute, pe­ri­od. It is al­so rel­a­tive­ly short, knock­ing about at around 200 pages. Worth a read, but I don’t think spot 14 on the list is the cor­rect one.

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