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This Day in Science Fiction History: 25 July

Fictional Entry—Friday, July 25, 1952

Dr. Cole Hendron had warned the world months earlier, and the newspapers had called him a fraud. Other astronomers had said his mathematical calculations were wrong. There was no way Bronson Beta (Zyra) or Bronson Alpha (Bellus) would come very close to Earth. It was ludicrous. Then those same scientists took more readings and did more calculations. They changed their minds. Dr. Hendron was right.

A tear away calendar stating "Waste Anything Except Time. Time is Our Shortest Material" and showing Zyra and 19 Days Until Bellus from When Worlds Collide
Zyra's passing arrives (© Paramount Pictures 1951)

At one o’clock in the afternoon (EST), Zyra passed within a few million miles of Earth. The gravitational force of the passing shook Earth’s core. Massive earthquakes rocked even the most secure locations. Volcanoes, even those long thought extinct, spewed lava forth and sulfurous gas, killing everything that breathed and destroying huge swaths of land. Mighty tsunamis engulfed the coastal regions of the world, laying waste to low-lying cities and towns. Rivers acted as channels for the rushing waters. The land was scoured clean by the massive flow. Nothing built on the coast survived. Gone were the major centers of commerce: Tokyo, Miami, Los Angeles, London, and New York City. Fires raged uncontrollably across forests and jungles alike. No part of the world was left untouched.

Flooded New York City with two ocean liners sinking near the Empire State Building from When Worlds Collide
The flooding of New York City in 1952 (© Paramount Pictures 1951)

The governments of the world had evacuated most of the people to areas thought to be geologically stable, but the mighty tug of another world was more than the scientists had envisioned. Millions died in only a few hours, and millions more perished in the days that followed. Not only had the entire face of the planet changed, but the moon had been either destroyed during the passing or torn free from its orbit.

However, the rocket ship Ark and the mountaintop base Dr. Hendron and his group built survived. Though Bellus still loomed huge in the sky, they prayed there was still a chance that a few humans and animals might make it off the doomed Earth to land on Zyra.

When Worlds Collide


Philip Wylie & Edwin Balmer


When Worlds Collide

Motion Picture

Paramount Pictures


This Day in Science Fiction History examines notable events, real and fictional, concerning fantasy and science fiction in various media.


Jul 28, 2023

Awesome graphics.


Unknown member
Jul 26, 2023

After reading the blog I finally bit the bullet and got the Kindle editions of both When Worlds Collide and After Worlds Collide. I had a Buffalo Press dead tree of both books, but it seems to have gone the way of the single sock that has rotated 179.5 degrees into some alternate universe.

I actually first read When Worlds Collide back in High School, for some reason the school library had a copy of it. Was probably around 1963 or so. (Yes, I'm an old fan) I have probably read both novels more times than I care to count since then, and given I graduated from HS in 1967 that is a number of readings.

As with any older…


Jul 25, 2023

I loved those books as a child. I wonder if they will survive re-reading.

Jul 26, 2023
Replying to

I've never read the books but I love the George Pal movie! I will have to seek out the books!

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