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Old 05-03-2013, 02:56 PM
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Nuclear war fiction....set during the attack!


I work in a library and am compiling a list of resources for a library guide on surviving a nuclear attack. The majority of the guide is non-fiction, government resources, on what to do before, during, and after a nuclear or radiological event.

So for fun, I'd like to include fiction about experiencing a nuclear attack/nuclear warfare. (Because what could be more fun than that, I ask you? ) Here's where you come in!

A perfect example would be Pat Frank's Alas, Babylon -- you see what people are dealing with prior to the attack, during the attack, and after. Same with Whitley Streiber's Warday, which is (IIRC) about piecing together the events around an attack by looking at the documents left behind. I haven't read Neil Shute's On the Beach, but a synopsis makes it appear like it would fit the bill, since it's about the immediate aftermath of nuclear war.

I don't want books set long (generations, or dozens-to-hundreds) after an attack, like A Canticle for Leibowitz.

So, what else is out there?


(Bonus question: A year or so ago, I read a Young Adult book, recently published, that was a series of inter-linked short stories about a young boy and his family dealing with a nuclear attack on the US....the first story set on the night of the launch and each story being set further and further into the future. I cannot remember the title for the life of me -- does this ring any bells with anyone?)
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Old 05-03-2013, 03:12 PM
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Uh, that should be:

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I don't want books set long (generations, or dozens-to-hundreds of years)
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Old 05-03-2013, 03:13 PM
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I believe "Swan Song" by Robert McCammon took place before, during, and after a nuclear war.
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Old 05-03-2013, 03:14 PM
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Old 05-03-2013, 03:16 PM
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Juvenile/YA from the 80s: After the Bomb and the sequel, Week One.
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Old 05-03-2013, 05:06 PM
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Children Of The Dust.
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Old 05-03-2013, 08:54 PM
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"Last Train From Hiroshima" by Charles Pellegrino is as fictional as it gets.

In seriousness, I suggest 'Malevil' by Robert Merle. Not sure if it's still in print, though.
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Old 05-03-2013, 09:42 PM
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The classic ones are Fail Safe and Red Alert, both filmed at about the same time as the very serious Fail Sagfe and as Stranley Kubrick's dark comicv Dr Stranfelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.


I've seen the movie Fail Safwe, but haven't read the book. I've read Peter Bryant's Red Alert, and the rewritten version (after the film came out) titled Dr. Strangelove, published under the author name Peter George.
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Old 05-03-2013, 10:27 PM
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Heinlein, Farnham's Freehold.
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Old 05-03-2013, 11:23 PM
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Raymond Briggs When the Wind Blows

A really poignant graphic novel that is entirely centred on an elderly couple in Britain trying to deal with the escalation of hostilities leading to a nuclear war, and then its effects.
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Old 05-04-2013, 12:42 AM
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Seconding this:

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Originally Posted by Amateur Barbarian View Post
Heinlein, Farnham's Freehold.
Starts out very nuclear-war-ish, goes somewhere weird with it, then goes completely off the tracks by the end. Quite dated, not so much in the technology but terribly so in the terms of people's attitudes, and a bit preachy.

Like all Heinlein.

But, like all Heinlein, it's totally worth reading, if just once, for the science. If you wanna survive a nuclear war, learn to think like Hugh Farnham.
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Old 05-04-2013, 01:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gallows fodder View Post
A perfect example would be Pat Frank's Alas, Babylon -- you see what people are dealing with prior to the attack, during the attack, and after. Same with Whitley Streiber's Warday, which is (IIRC) about piecing together the events around an attack by looking at the documents left behind. I haven't read Neil Shute's On the Beach, but a synopsis makes it appear like it would fit the bill, since it's about the immediate aftermath of nuclear war
I would seriously avoid reading Neil Shute's on the beach for anything beyond an updated alice in wonderland. One book that I really enjoyed was by Eric L Harry, called Arc light. limited strike on the US, by Russian coup leader and the subsequent follow up invasion.

Declan
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Old 05-04-2013, 01:44 AM
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Not nuclear war, but Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven is a look at a very similar situation - cometary strike.
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Old 05-04-2013, 02:37 AM
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Down To A Sunless Sea, by David Graham: A large airliner is halfway across the Atlantic when the first nuke is fired. Over the course of the next couple of hours, more or less everywhere it could have landed gets bombed, and what isn't bombed is under a giant cloud of radioactive fallout...

At least two different versions of this book were published, one with a slightly upbeat ending and one rather less optimistic though with a quasi-religious final sentence.
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Old 05-04-2013, 04:48 AM
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On the Beach is a good read, but it doesn't fit what you're looking for. It's after the war, and about how the survivors cope while they wait for their own end.

I'm having a hard time thinking of any books or movies that would really fit the bill. There's a pretty large set of books about events leading up to a general (or limited) nuclear war, and there's another set of books about survivors after such a war.

What is there of interest to write about during the attack? It's not like anyone can dodge from one piece of cover to the next, like in normal combat. You live or you die based on which buttons people push hundreds or thousands of miles away, and whether you live or die you'll probably never know why the bomb fell or didn't on you instead of the next city over.

But ... gotta be a book? I would recommend an excellent if not especially well known movie, The Bedford Incident, about a cat and mouse game between a destroyer and sub that escalates. It's based on a book, but I haven't read the book, so I can't vouch for it.
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Old 05-05-2013, 11:00 AM
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The out of print book Warday about a limited Nuclear war is mainly about the aftermath but there are segments set during the attack (the one that comes to mind was an account of a Nuke going off in Brooklyn).
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Old 05-05-2013, 12:11 PM
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One Second After by William R. Forstchen, it's not about nuclear war per-se, but about an unprovoked EMP strike on the U.S. (and maybe more countries...)

It follows the events from the immediate pulse to a year out, in the small town of Black Mountain, North Carolina, the book attempts to be as realistic as possible in the depiction of societal breakdown and regression
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Old 05-05-2013, 12:47 PM
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Are there any novels that are well-researched, accurate fictionalized accounts of the actual warfighting? Chain of command, counterforce, lengthy SIOP description, strategy, results, etc?

Last edited by SenorBeef; 05-05-2013 at 12:48 PM.
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Old 05-05-2013, 01:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SenorBeef View Post
Are there any novels that are well-researched, accurate fictionalized accounts of the actual warfighting? Chain of command, counterforce, lengthy SIOP description, strategy, results, etc?
Dread as I am to recommend Tom Clancy, his book Red Storm Rising is a pretty well written and researched book about an all out conventional war between NATO and the Soviet Union that goes right to the brink of nuclear.
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Old 05-05-2013, 02:45 PM
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Quote:
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Are there any novels that are well-researched, accurate fictionalized accounts of the actual warfighting? Chain of command, counterforce, lengthy SIOP description, strategy, results, etc?
General Sir John Hackett's The Third World War might be of interest. I imagine it's well-researched, as Hacket was Commander of the British Army of the Rhine, and also Nato's Northern Army Group.

(The fighting is almost all conventional, if that matters)

Last edited by Baron Greenback; 05-05-2013 at 02:46 PM.
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Old 05-05-2013, 05:14 PM
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General Sir John Hackett's The Third World War might be of interest. I imagine it's well-researched, as Hacket was Commander of the British Army of the Rhine, and also Nato's Northern Army Group.

(The fighting is almost all conventional, if that matters)


What's interesting to me about that book is that it describes the US invasion of Grenada -- years before the actual US invasion of Grenada. Evidently a plan has been in the works for quite a while,.

Hackett wrote a sequel four years later The Third World war ---- The Untold Story.
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Old 05-05-2013, 05:18 PM
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Trinity's Child and the movie made from it By Dawn's Early Night.
Both are excellent.
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Old 05-06-2013, 08:34 AM
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Wow, this is a fantastic list, thank you very much!

My library probably doesn't carry most of these because we have a pretty sci-fi-poor fiction section, but I will encourage people to use interlibrary loan.
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Old 05-06-2013, 11:27 AM
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I was just poking around Amazon on this topic- has anyone read Long Voyage Back? I've read a lot of apocalypse fiction but I'd never read that one- and I've read Malevil, which is kind of obscure.

My recommendation would be a YA novel, Z for Zachariah. It's about a young girl living all alone shortly after an attack. It haunted me as a kid and held up upon reread as an adult.
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Old 05-06-2013, 11:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phnord Prephect View Post
Starts out very nuclear-war-ish, goes somewhere weird with it, then goes completely off the tracks by the end. Quite dated, not so much in the technology but terribly so in the terms of people's attitudes, and a bit preachy.

Like all Heinlein.
Even most Heinlein fans put this one somewhere near the bottom of the list, but it is one of the few novels I know of that get right down in the trenches about surviving an all-out nuclear war. You can skip the middle part (once the aircraft show up) and jump to the last chapter if the survival part is all that matters. Probably better in some ways.
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Old 05-07-2013, 10:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baron Greenback View Post
General Sir John Hackett's The Third World War might be of interest. I imagine it's well-researched, as Hacket was Commander of the British Army of the Rhine, and also Nato's Northern Army Group.

(The fighting is almost all conventional, if that matters)
Yes, definitely check that out. Good stuff. Written as if it were an actual rueful history.

Warday, mentioned above, includes a chapter written from the POV of a senior Pentagon official who's on Air Force One as the horrified President has to respond to a limited Soviet nuclear attack. It's quite gripping.

I would also recommend The Last Ship by William Brinkley, set aboard the USS Nathan James, a destroyer. It opens in the Barents Sea in late 1988 when the warship, on authenticated orders from Washington, launches a Tomahawk cruise missile nuclear strike against the USSR. The rest of the book is about the aftermath of the full-scale nuclear war, and the crew's struggle for survival in a war-ravaged world. Has some very implausible bits, but is well worth a read. For more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Ship.
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Old 05-08-2013, 11:32 PM
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Two earlier threads that might also be of interest:

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=596516
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=625522
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Old 05-09-2013, 12:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
What's interesting to me about that book is that it describes the US invasion of Grenada -- years before the actual US invasion of Grenada. Evidently a plan has been in the works for quite a while,.

Hackett wrote a sequel four years later The Third World war ---- The Untold Story.
Harold Coyle's Team Yankee is a novel about a US armoured unit set in the same 'world'. Chieftains is simillar but from the perspective of a British tank unit.

There is also a series called The Zone:

Quote:
"The Zone" is a series of speculative fiction. Comprising ten novels, the series describes a conflict as it would have or might have been between Warsaw Pact forces and NATO of the 1980s and early 1990s in Europe. Part of the apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction World War III genre, the series takes it name from a large strip of no-mans land in West and East Germany where nuclear, biological and chemical weapons have been used by both sides indiscriminately, creating a contaminated wasteland. The novels follow the actions of a multi-national combat unit and its series of special missions during the course of the conflict throughout this strip of ruined Europe.
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Old 05-09-2013, 03:25 AM
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I'm reading this thread with interest as this topic is a personal interest of mine, I've read/watched most of the titles mentioned already but there's a few I need to check out.

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Originally Posted by ryan View Post
Trinity's Child and the movie made from it By Dawn's Early Night.
Both are excellent.
Agreed, though its one of those rare instances where I personally prefer the movie. Excellent ending and some memorable scenes (the look on Powers Boothe's face as he looks out the window of the bomber at the results of the nuclear bomb they just dropped, when his character first begins to have doubts about their mission)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quimby View Post
The out of print book Warday about a limited Nuclear war is mainly about the aftermath but there are segments set during the attack (the one that comes to mind was an account of a Nuke going off in Brooklyn).
Again great book, the scene where the survivors from Air Force One are on a beach and watch as a nearby city is attacked (chalky-grey light flickering on the underside of the cloud-layer) sticks out in my mind, such a sparse description of hundreds of thousands of people being killed.

Its a pity the proposed sequel telling the story of Warday from the Soviets perspective never came to pass.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyo Jim View Post
What is there of interest to write about during the attack? It's not like anyone can dodge from one piece of cover to the next, like in normal combat. You live or you die based on which buttons people push hundreds or thousands of miles away, and whether you live or die you'll probably never know why the bomb fell or didn't on you instead of the next city over.
Domain by Frank Herbert does a good job of depicting a nuclear attack on London, its a horror novel with some quite silly elements but its a fun read and the first chapters are very well done. The attack is shown from the perspective of several different characters, some of whom survive but most don't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Battle Pope View Post
Harold Coyle's Team Yankee is a novel about a US armoured unit set in the same 'world'. Chieftains is simillar but from the perspective of a British tank unit.
Haven't read 'Team Yankee' yet but 'Chieftains' is a great book with a memorable ending.

As mentioned in the thread I started about The Road another good, but even more depressing book is 'Level 7' by Mordechai Roshwald, about a soldier sent to a top-secret facility as tensions escalate leading to war.

A book that may be hard to track down but is an excellent read is 'Ende: A Diary of the Third World War' by Anton-Andreas Guha about a family near the inner-German border during the Cold War when a nuclear exchange takes place.
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Old 05-09-2013, 04:12 AM
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James Herbert's 'Dominion'. It's set mostly in the aftermath of Nuclear War, but it does briefly cover before and during the war.
http://www.amazon.com/Domain-James-H...eywords=domain

And I should have read through the thread thoroughly before allowing myself to be pipped to the post!

Last edited by Seamack; 05-09-2013 at 04:14 AM. Reason: reposting same ole same ole
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Old 05-09-2013, 04:17 AM
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Domain by Frank Herbert does a good job of depicting a nuclear attack on London, its a horror novel with some quite silly elements but its a fun read and the first chapters are very well done. The attack is shown from the perspective of several different characters, some of whom survive but most don't.
It's James Herbert - you've got the plot right though.
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Old 05-09-2013, 05:12 AM
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It's James Herbert - you've got the plot right though.
Don't know why I wrote Frank, James Herbert died recently as well. I'm not a fan of horror novels but some of his were pretty good.
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Old 05-09-2013, 06:56 AM
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Raymond Briggs When the Wind Blows

A really poignant graphic novel that is entirely centred on an elderly couple in Britain trying to deal with the escalation of hostilities leading to a nuclear war, and then its effects.
I just want to second this - it's a profoundly moving story about a couple of "little people" unaware of the growing danger around them or the full import of what subsequently happens.
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Old 05-09-2013, 11:38 AM
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Shelter by Dan Ljoka

Sparrow Rock by Nate Kenyon. Though it borders on fantasy, it's realistic in psychological effects.

Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O' Brien. A must.

The Bomb by Theodore Taylor

Any fiction of Hiroshima/ Nagasaki. (Grave of the Fireflies, etc.)

Last edited by Renifer; 05-09-2013 at 11:39 AM.
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