[Robert J. Sawyer] Science Fiction Writer
ROBERT J. SAWYER
Hugo and Nebula Winner


SFWRITER.COM > Novels > The Oppenheimer Alternative > Dramatis Personae

The Oppenheimer Alternative

Dramatis Personae

Every character in Robert J. Sawyer's novel The Oppenheimer Alternative was a real person and, with the exception of Peter Oppenheimer, is now deceased. The Manhattan Project and Project Orion both really existed as described here, and the Institute for Advanced Study still exists.

The chapter-head quotes in the novel are all real, and, thanks to the published recollections of the participants, official transcripts, illicit recordings, and so on, some of this novel's dialog is real, too.


Luis Alvarez (1911-1988): American physicist; 1968 Nobel laureate.

Stepan Zakharovich Apresyan (1914-1990): Russian diplomat and spy; vice consul at the Soviet Consulate in San Francisco.

Kenneth Bainbridge (1904-1996): American physicist; director of the Manhattan Project's Trinity test.

Hans Bethe (1906-2005): German-born American physicist; 1967 Nobel laureate.

Patrick Blackett (1897-1974): British physicist; Robert Oppenheimer's tutor at Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory; 1948 Nobel laureate.

Niels Bohr (1885-1962): Danish physicist; 1922 Nobel laureate.

Vannevar Bush (1890-1974): Head of the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development.

James F. Byrnes (1882-1972), Secretary of State under Harry S. Truman.

Barbara Chevalier (1907-2003): First wife of Haakon Chevalier.

Haakon Chevalier [“HOKE-on SHEV-al-EE-eh”] (1901-1985): American-born professor of French literature at the University of California at Berkeley and translator at the Nuremberg Trials.

Robert Christy (1916-2012): Canadian-born physicist.

Arthur Holly Compton (1892-1962): American physicist; 1927 Nobel laureate.

Edward Condon (1902-1974): American physicist.

Watson Davis (1896-1967): Editor, Science Service.

Peer de Silva (1917-1978): Manhattan Project security officer.

Major General Walter Dornberger (1895-1980): Military leader of Germany's V-2 rocket program.

Helen Dukas (1896-1982): Einstein's live-in secretary.

Freeman Dyson (1923-2020): British-born American physicist.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955): German-born Swiss/American physicist; 1921 Nobel laureate.

George C. Eltenton (1905-1991): British chemical engineer (or so it was thought at the time; actually a physicist) for Shell Development in California who approached Haakon Chevalier on behalf of Russia.

Ward V. Evans (1880-1957): Member of the 1954 Atomic Energy Commission security-review board.

Enrico Fermi [“FAIR-mee”] (1901-1954): Italian-born American physicist; 1938 Nobel laureate. In 1942, he produced the first-ever controlled nuclear chain reaction at the University of Chicago.

Richard Feynman [“FINE-man”] (1918-1988): American physicist; 1965 Nobel laureate.

Lloyd K. Garrison (1897-1991): American lawyer; represented Oppenheimer before the 1954 Atomic Energy Commission security-review board.

Kurt Güdel (1906-1978): Austrian-born American logician.

Gordon Gray (1909-1982): Chairman of the 1954 Atomic Energy Commission security-review board.

General Leslie R. Groves (1896-1970): Head of the Manhattan Project.

Bourke Hickenlooper (1896-1971): United States senator and past chairman of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy.

Verna Hobson (1923-2004): Robert Oppenheimer's secretary at the Institute for Advanced Study.

J. Edgar Hoover (1895-1972): Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Dieter Huzel (1912-1994): German rocketeer working under Wernher von Braun.

Lt. Lyall Johnson (1914-2006): American counter-intelligence officer stationed on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley.

Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973): 36th President of the United States, in office 22 November 1963 to 20 January 1969.

George Kistiakowsky (1900-1982): Ukrainian-American chemist, leader of explosives group at Los Alamos.

Anne Wilson Marks (1924-2006): Robert Oppenheimer's secretary at Los Alamos.

Herbert Marks (1907-1960): Robert Oppenheimer's lawyer (and Anne's husband).

Lt. Col. (and later Major General) Kenneth Nichols, Ph.D. (1907-2000): General Groves's assistant, and, later, general manager of the Atomic Energy Commission.

J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967): American physicist, scientific director of the Los Alamos site of the Manhattan Project; director of the Institute for Advanced Study.

Katherine "Kitty" Oppenheimer (1910-1972): German-American botanist; wife of Robert Oppenheimer.

Katherine "Tyke" Oppenheimer (1944-1977): Robert and Kitty's younger child, known as "Toni" when she was older.

Peter Oppenheimer (1941-    ): Robert and Kitty's older child.

William S. "Deak" Parsons (1900-1953): Associate director of the Los Alamos laboratory under Oppenheimer; weaponeer on the Enola Gay; promoted to rear admiral following the war.

Lt. Col. Boris Pash (1900-1995): American military intelligence officer; commander of the Alsos Mission into Germany.

Isidor Isaac Rabi [“ROB-ee”] (1898-1988): Austrian-born American physicist; 1944 Nobel laureate.

Roger Robb (1907-1985): Attorney for the Atomic Energy Commission.

C. Arthur Rolander, Jr. (1920-2017): First, the Atomic Energy Commission's deputy director of security, then vice president of General Atomic.

Robert "Bob" Serber (1909-1997): American physicist; Robert Oppenheimer's close colleague.

Rita "Pat" Sherr (1916-1997): wife of physicist Rubby [“ROO-bee”] Sherr; looked after Robert Oppenheimer's daughter.

Robert Sproul (1891-1975): President of the University of California, Berkeley.

Henry L. Stimson (1867-1950): Secretary of War during both World Wars.

Lewis L. Strauss [“Straws”] (1896-1974): Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission.

Leo Szilard [“LAY-o SIL-ard”] (1898-1964): Hungarian-born physicist.

Jean Tatlock, M.D. (1914-1944): American Communist Party member; Robert Oppenheimer's mistress.

Ted Taylor (1925-2004): Mexican-born American physicist who worked at Los Alamos and then headed the Orion project.

Edward Teller (1908-2003): Hungarian-born physicist, often called "the father of the hydrogen bomb."

Charles Tobey (1880-1953): United States senator.

Harry S. Truman (1884-1972): 33rd President of the United States, in office 12 April 1945 to 20 January 1953.

Harold Urey (1893-1981): American physical chemist; 1934 Nobel laureate.

Joseph Volpe (1914-2002): legal counsel for the Atomic Energy Commission.

Magnus von Braun (1919-2003): younger brother of Wernher von Braun.

Wernher von Braun [“VAIRN-er fon Brrrown”] (1912-1977): German rocketeer.

John von Neumann [“von NOY-man”] (1903-1957): Hungarian-born American mathematical physicist.

Henry A. Wallace (1888-1965): vice president of the United States under Harry S. Truman.


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