thud and blunder n.

(a disparaging term for) an adventure story that features violent exploits

[spoonerism of blood and thunder; in use since at least the 1870s to refer (literally and figuratively) to violence]

SF Criticism


  • 1940 Astounding Stories Apr. 160/1 page image

    While you had not sunk to thud and blunder levels—you have never done that—you were, nevertheless, maintaining a decidedly low standard, and though you still stood out like a shining beacon among the other unspeakables on the stands, you were not getting anywhere at a terrific rate.

  • 1941 Fantastic Adventures Aug. 138/1 page image

    The story starts out in fine Cummings style, then gradually works into a bunch of bunk ‘thud and blunder’ gore.

  • 1947 R. Sneary Letter in Startling Stories Jan. 98/2 page image Rick Sneary

    Oh yes, I see Wellman is bringing Captain Future back next issue. I hope it is good. Some of CF aren’t, and Wellman has such a style of his own. He is good but…his big sute if [sic] picturing the viewpoint of other races. I hope this next story don’t drop into that kine of thing. CF has to [sic] much of a thud and blunder past for such a thing.

  • 1955 R. De Soto Revolving Fan in Amazing Stories Dec. 118 page image Roger De Soto bibliography

    ‘Hammer and Sickle,’™ the only other fiction in this issue, is the first installment of what is described as a serial: its thud-and-blunder moved me not.

  • 1976 A. Budrys Books in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Feb. 51/2 page image Algis Budrys

    Perhaps conscious that someone might then mistake Bulmer for a thud-and-blunder writer, Equinox describe this as a ‘classic novel which was the first to incorporate the ideas of undersea farming,’ an assertion which will be of some interest to Arthur C. Clarke.

  • 1985 B. Bova in Thrust (#23) Winter 12/2 (interview) page image Ben Bova

    It was one of the world’s worst thud and blunder novels set in the far future—it makes Star Wars look tame—and they bought it.

  • 1996 V. Stallwood Oxford Fall v. 78

    She had enjoyed his thud and blunder stories when she was about twelve.

  • 2000 N.Y. Times Magazine 14 May 49/1

    Hubbard writes a kind of science fiction that we call ‘thud and blunder’™, stories for crackpots and juveniles.

  • 2011 N. Spinrad On Books in Asimov’s Science Fiction Apr.–May 187/2 page image Norman Spinrad

    The story then degenerates into an FX orgy of endless combat sequences, car chases, explosions, action cliffhangers, and so forth…. Worse still, this massively overlong thud and blunder denouement takes place in three intercut dreams interacting arbitrarily and pretty much incoherently.

Research requirements

antedating 1940

Earliest cite

Astounding Stories

Research History
Fred Galvin submitted a 1947 cite from a letter by Rick Sneary in Startling Stories.
Fred Galvin submitted a 1947 cite from a letter by Alan Jones to Thrilling Wonder Stories.
Fred Galvin submitted a 1955 cite from Roger De Soto in Amazing Stories.
Fred Galvin submitted a 1940 cite from a review of Damon Knight's fanzine "Snide: The Magazine of Thud and Blunder" in Astounding Stories; we would like to verify the subtitle in the fanzine's first issue.
Fred Galvin submitted a 1963 cite from "Science and Science Fiction: Who Borrows What?" by Michael Girdansky.

Removed from the site after evidence arose establishing its mundane origins.

Bill Mullins re-suggested the entry, and submitted a variety of cites.

Last modified 2021-02-12 16:31:06
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.