The Nuclear Slanshack

old issues of analogA California couple buying a home in Woodland Hills this month knew it came with a fallout shelter but they were surprised to discover it was perfectly preserved and still fully stocked with vintage supplies.

The shelter was constructed 15 feet underground by nuclear engineer Alvin Kaufman in 1961 in the hope it would let his family ride out a nuclear attack. Kaufman, who died in 2004, had originally planned to build a fallout shelter for his entire block, but his neighbors passed up on the offer.

After seeing the photos in the Daily Mail Gregory Benford declared, “He musta been a fan!”

In case the family got bored while waiting for the radiation to clear above round, they could play a board game or read a dozen copies of Analog science fiction magazine inside their temporary dwelling.

Kaufman obviously was one of the many engineers attracted to Campbell’s magazine, but there’s no evidence that he was an actifan – at least, the LASFS membership database has no record that Kaufman ever joined his nearest sf club.

[Thanks to Gregory Benford for the story.]

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4 thoughts on “The Nuclear Slanshack

  1. Only a dozen issues of Analog? He must have expected the fallout to clear really quickly.

  2. Or else, as Isaac Asimov teased Arthur C. Clarke when he bragged about the airline crash survivor who told interviewers he’d been reading a Clarke novel at the time, the fellow chose the material because “If he died, it’d be a blessed relief!”

  3. I saw that article earlier in the day and thought: must contact Mike Glyer! Of course, you were on top of it already. I notice that while the the news reports say Alvin Kaufman built his bomb shelter in 1961, the copies of Analog are from the mid 60s (back when it was a very handsome publication, thanks to that Conde Nast budget). So he must have been restocking it for a few years at least — or maybe he came down there to get away from it all.

    My late father was also a nuclear engineer, doing research I only vaguely understand at Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago. And he was a life-long Astounding/Analog reader. AND he had a government booklet telling how to build a bomb shelter (which I think I still have somewhere). But my father didn’t become a homeowner until 1973, by which time bomb shelters were out of fashion, I guess (plus he was putting me through college). Don’t know if would have gone through with, but it would have been something to see.

  4. With a little bit of research, it appears that the 12 issues of Analog come from 1967…or at least the ones that I can read the covers from blowing up the photograph!

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