I have a thing for futuristic/dystopian fiction. Considering one of my favorite books of all time is Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, you can understand my love for this genre. This week I've found myself drawn to two novels, one a classic, and one brand new, that examine life in a post-apocalyptic world.
The first, Alas, Babylon, by Pat Frank, was written in 1959, during the Cold War. This novel examines life after a nuclear attack on the United States, focusing primarily on one small town in Florida. It was absolutely riveting. The characters were very real, and it was written in such a way to make the reader feel as isolated as the characters in the story. Also, even though the novel is now 50 years old, it didn't feel dated at all. I guess, considering what could happen in such a situation, that the way we would adapt and survive now would be very similar to what would have happened 50 years ago!
The second novel, One Second After, by William Forstchen, is a new novel that deals with a very real threat that could destroy everything we have come to rely on so heavily. In this novel, an EMP - Electromagnetic Pulse - shorts out everything electrical and computerized. Considering the way we live today and how almost everything we use is powered by electricity and computers, what happens to the characters in this novel is very much the same as what happens to the characters in Alas, Babylon.
Alas, Babylon is our bookclub read this month, so I knew I was going to read it. But One Second After just came in to the library this week, and after reading the summary, I knew I had to read it. It's fascinating to read two very different accounts of the destruction of American society, yet the results of the destruction are vastly similar. While the threat of a nuclear war now is nothing like it was during the Cold War, the constant evolution of new and better weapons, as well as new and better, and highly sensitive technology, makes me wonder what would happen if something got into the wrong hands. It also makes me wonder what I would do if such a disaster would occur.
I hope I'll never have to find out. But in the meantime, stocking up a little on water and canned goods wouldn't hurt, would it?