I wrote my college thesis on Presidential succession and disability, and have always been fascinated by fiction that addresses what happens to the Presidency or the United States, or about the disintegration or reconstitution of the government, after a catastropic war or plague or other apocalyptic event. What are the best fictional works that cover this subject, even if only tangentially?
My personal favorites include:
The Folk of the Fringe by Orson Scott Card. A Mormon-dominated region in the American West survives the collapse of the United States.
Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. The novel ends with a United States senator, who has survived a comet strike by establishing a self-sustaining community around his California ranch, chuckling over the distant emergence of rival claimants to the Presidency.
On the Beach by Nevil Shute. When a nuclear war destroys civilization in the northern hemisphere, a submarine in the United States Navy places itself at the disposal of the Australian government as the southern hemisphere awaits the southward-drifting fallout and eventual extinction.
The Postman by David Brin. A letter carrier who survives the doomwar fabricates a fictitious “Restored United States,” then uses the restoration of overland communication in order to turn myth into reality.
Warday: And the Journey Onward by Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka. Two journalists, childhood friends both in real life and in the book, journey across an America that has been partly but not totally devastated by a limited nuclear attack. Some regions are uninhabitable, most have reverted to a plague-ridden substistence economy, and a few–like California–are thriving. But the concept of American nationhood has broken down: California and other “haves” have erected police states with strict barriers that keep the “have-nots” off their territory. The Mexican-Americans and native Americans in the southwestern states have formed their own nation that rejects the vestiges of the United States, while the white governor of Texas will not recognize the secession and is prepared to resist it, by force if necessary. The Federal government still exists: it has moved to Los Angeles, and operates out of the bottom floors of a building that it shares with a Californian human-services agency, so whether you can rely on the Bill of Rights depends on which floor you are on.
What other books or stories can you recommend along these lines?