Alas Babylon

Alas Babylon

Postby Bookben » Mon May 12, 2014 4:21 pm

This book, by Pat Frank, is my favorite of the genre. For one, it's the most hopeful of the "Cold War" era apocalyptic novels. It was written by Pat Frank, a former war correspondent who had seen first-hand what war-torn countries look like in his travels during World War II and Korea. He later worked on the U.S. Civil Defense system before his death in 1964.

Much of what is depicted in his book is very close to what is described so far (I'm about a quarter through Dr. Dartnell's book as of this writing!) as having to rediscover would-be "obsolete" technology, as well as techniques and knowledge that must be dredged up from the past, whether by older residents, diaries of people long-dead, or simply rediscovered by doing. They have to re-learn growing gardens, fishing for food, which animals are edible, even how to produce alcohol. The book, though small, has a roomy feel to it. The main character is a reasonable, amiable guy with a quiet kind of strength. The book even appears to pass the so-called "Bechtel" test, in which at least two scenes are depicted in which women in the story discuss subjects other than the men. In fact, one of the heroes of the book is a woman, the town librarian, who is the keeper of knowledge for the small town where the story takes place.

In some ways, this story is dated. We no longer have Strategic Air Command, for instance. Interestingly, however, the numbers of bombs (and delivery systems) are still just has high, perhaps even better than in those days. And the bombs are stronger. While nuclear war seems farther away these days than in the times of that book, it doesn't mean that such is no longer a threat.
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