catastrophe adj.

= disaster adj.

cosy catastrophe: Brian Aldiss’s term for a type of esp. British disaster story, exemplified by John Wyndham, in which the protagonist suffers relatively little hardship.

SF Encyclopedia

SF Criticism


  • 1948 Thrilling Wonder Stories Oct. 156/2 [editor's response to a reader letter] page image

    Corpses seem to be a bit passe this season at that in stf if nowhere else. Certainly the old catastrophe story of years gone by can no longer make the grade except in superlative form.

  • 1959 P. Schuyler Miller Reference Library in Astounding Science Fiction July 148/2 page image P. Schuyler Miller

    The urge to write another ‘catastrophe’ story must be very like the urge that drove the late Cecil B. DeMille to produce his super-colossal spectacles. You can assemble a cast of millions and use a setting as big as the world. You are practically unlimited as to special effects.

  • 1965 B. Aldiss British Science Fiction Now in SF Horizons (#2) Winter 35 page image Brian W. Aldiss bibliography

    Anyone who has composed any catastrophe story has dealt in this knowledgeable and inoffensive journalistic language.

  • 1973 B. W. Aldiss Billion-Year Spree 294 Brian W. Aldiss bibliography

    The essence of cosy catastrophe is that the hero should have a pretty good time (a girl, free suites at the Savoy, automobiles for the taking) while everyone else is dying off.

  • 1979 B. Searles et al. Reader's Guide to Science Fiction 200

    One of the qualities that the world destroyers brought to their catastrophe s-f, and this applies particularly to Wyndham, was a kind of non-melodramatic verismo, a typically British common sense approach which made for an enormously realistic feel to the horrible situations conjured up.

  • 2007 Interzone (#210) June 62/1 page image

    Even the classically British scenario of meteorological apocalypse—the sun has caught a nasty cold from a plug of dark matter and has to be bombed back to life—owes little to our noble native tradition of catastrophe fiction, set as it is entirely in space with only one brief scene of the benighted earth at the end.

  • 2016 P. Mount in Starburst (#425) June 99/2 page image

    It’s not difficult to trace its lineage back to the so-called ‘cosy catastrophe’ authors who brought the civilised world to its knees.

Research requirements

antedating 1948

Earliest cite

editorial note in Thrilling Wonder Stories

Research History
Irene Grumman submitted a 1979 cite from "A Reader's Guide to Science Fiction" by Baird Searles (et al).
John Locke submitted a cite from "Stf Seller's Market" by Samuel Mines in an (unpaginated) electronic verion of Writer's Digest from September 1953; we would like to verify this in a print edition.
Brian Aldiss submitted a cite 1973 cite from his "Billion Year Spree".

We would like cites of any date from other authors.

Last modified 2020-12-27 10:25:19
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.