Nuclear Holocausts: Atomic War in Fiction

by Paul Brians

Supplementary Checklists

     The following checklists are provided to aid those in search of texts on themes closely related to nuclear war. They are not as comprehensive as the main bibliography (nothing published since 1984, for instance), and are merely suggestions for further study. The reader wondering why a particular item was not listed in the bibliography may well find his or her answer here.

Near-War Narratives

     In this checklist, nuclear war is more or less narrowly averted, usually by the thwarting of the schemes of terrorists or nuclear blackmailers.

     In a few cases, the war seems imminent, but does not actually break out during the story. Many of them are cold-war thrillers in which atomic bombs are used as a suspension-building threat, replacing the older threats of poison gas and the like. Often these novels have little to say about nuclear weapons as such, though some may be interesting to scholars. Many are discussed in Martha A. Bartter's The Way to Ground Zero: The Atomic Bomb in American Science Fiction (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1988).

Ambler, Eric. The Dark Frontier. 1935.
Anvil, Christopher. The Steel, the Mist, and the Blazing Sun. 1980.
Ardies, Tom. This Suitcase Is Going to Explode. 1972.
Asimov, Isaac. "Silly Asses." 1958.
Avallon, Michael. The Doomsday Bag. 1969.
Ayer, Frederick. Where No Flags Fly. 1961.
Bagley, Michael. The Plutonium Factor. 1983.
Ball, John. The First Team. 1971.
Bass, Milton R. Force Red. 1970.
Beliayev, Alexander. The Struggle in Space. 1965
Blish, James. "Sponge Dive." 1956.
Boland, John. Holocaust. 1977.
Bone, J. F. "Triggerman." 1958.
Boulle, Pierre. "The Diabolical Weapon." 1966.
Boom, Ben. Kinsman. 1979. Millenium. 1976.
Bretnor, Reginald. "Maybe Just a Little One." 1947.
Brodeur, Paul. The Sick Fox. 1963.
Brunner, John. The Brink. 1959.
Buckmaster, Henrietta. The Lion in the Stone. 1968.
Bulmer, Kenneth. The Doomsday Men. 1968.
Caidin, Martin. Operation Nuke. 1974.
Carr, Robert Spencer. "Those Men from Mars." 1951.
Carter, Mary Arkley. The Minutes of the Night. 1965.
Chandra, Vikram. Sacred Games. 2007.
Chester, Roy. The Damocles Factor. 1977.
Christian, John. Five Gates to Armageddon. 1975.
Clark, Ronald. Queen Victoria's Bomb: The Disclosures of Professor Franklin Huxtable, M.A. (Cantab.). 1967
Collins, Larry, and Dominique La Pierre. The Fifth Horseman. 1980.
Condon, Richard. The Manchurian Candidate. 1959.
Conley, Rick. "The Best Laid Plans." 1980.
Cory, Desmond. Sunburst. 1972.
Craig, William. Tashkent Crisis. 1971.
Creasey, John. The Terror. The Return of Dr. Palfrey. 1964.
Crowley, John: The Translator. 2002
Cunningham, E. V. Phyllis. 1963.
De Camp, L. Sprague. "Judgment Day." 1955.
del Rey, Lester. "Over the Top." 1949.
___. "Shadows of Empire." 1950.
Dick, Philip K. "Foster, You're Dead." 1954.
Ehrlich, Max. Big Eye. 1949.
Fellowes-Gordon, Ian. The Night of the Lollipop. 1979.
Fitzgibbon, Constantine. When the Kissing Had to Stop. 1960.
Follett, James. The Doomsday Ultimatum. 1976.
Forbes, Colin. The Year of the Golden Ape. 1974.
Frank, Pat. Forbidden Area. 1956.
Freemantle, Brian. The November Man. 1976.
Gallery, Daniel J. The Brink. 1968.
Gardner, Alan. The Escalator. 1963.
Garfield, Brian Wynne. Deep Cover. 1971.
Gary, Romain. The Gasp. 1973.
Granger, Bill. The Shattered Eye. 1982.
Gray, Michael Waude. Minutes to Impact. 1967.
Greatorex, Wilfred. The Freelancers. 1975.
Griffith, Maxwell. Gadget Maker. 1955.
Haggard, William. The Conspirators. 1967.
___. The High Wire. 1963.
___. Yesterday's Enemy. 1976.
Haining, Peter. The Hero. 1974.
Harrington, Robert Edward. The Seven of Swords. 1978.
Hodder-Williams, Christopher. Chain Reaction. 1959.
Hoppe, Arthur. Miss Lollipop and the Doomsday Machine. 1973.
Hough, S. B. Extinction Bomber. 1956.
Hunter, Matthew. Cambridgeshire Disaster. 1967.
Katz, Robert. Ziggurat. 1978.
King, Stephen. The Dead Zone. 1979.
King-Hall, Stephen. Moment of No Return. 1960.
Knebel, Fletcher. The Night of Camp David. 1965.
Kopit, Arthur. End of the World. 1984.
Le Guin, Ursula. The Lathe of Heaven. 1971
Luke, Thomas. The Hell Candidate. 1980.
McCall, Anthony. The Holocaust. 1967.
McCutchan, Philip. The Man from Moscow. 1965.
MacLean, Alistair. The Golden Rendezvous. 1962.
Maine, Charles Eric. Count-Down. 1958.
Mair, George B. The Day Khruschev Panicked. 1961.
Mason Francis Van Wyck. The Deadly Orbit Mission. 1968.
Meadows, Patrick. "Countercommandment." 1965.
Meyer, Bill. Ultimatum. 1966.
Milton, Joseph. The Man Who Bombed the World. 1966.
Neville, Kris. "Survival Problems." 1974.
Pincher, Chapman. The Eye of the Tornado. 1978.
Piper, H. Beam. "Operation R.S.V.R" 1951.
Pohl, Frederik. "Critical Mass." 1961.
Poyer, Joe. Operation Malacca. 1966.
Quest, Rodney. Countdown to Doomsday. 1966.
Reeves, Lynette Pamela. Last Days of the Peacemaker. 1976.
Reynolds, Mack. "Sweet Dreams, Sweet Princes. " 1964.
Rothberg, Abraham. Heirs of Cain. 1966.
St. Clair, Margaret. Sign of the Labrys.
Salinger, Pierre. On Instructions of My Government. 1971.
Sambrot, William. "Deadly Decision." 1958.
Sanders, Lawrence. The Hamlet Ultimatum. 1977.
Sela, Owen. An Exchange of Eagles. 1977.
Serling, Rod. "The Shelter." 1962.
Setlowe, Rick. The Brink. 1977.
Shore, Thelma. "Is It the End of the World?" 1972.
Smith, Carmichael. Atomsk. 1949.
Spillane, Mickey. The By-Pass Control. 1966.
Stanton, Ken. Ten Seconds to Zero. 1970.
Stewart, Edward. Launch! 1978.
Sutton, Jeff. Bombs in Orbit. 1959.
Taylor, Ray Ward. Doomsday Square. 1966.
Tenn, William. "Will You Walk a Little Farther?" 1951.
Terman, Douglas C. First Strike. 1980.
Tregaskis, Richard. China Bomb. 1967.
Trew, Antony. Ultimatum. 1977.
Upward, Edward. The Night Walk and Other Stories. 1987.
Van Vogt, A. E. The House That Stood Still. 1953 (rev. 1960 as The Mating Cry).
Varley, John. The Barbie Murders. 1980.
Vidal, Gore. Visit to a Small Planet. 1957.
Wager, Walter. Viper Three. 1971.
Walker, Jerry. Mission Accomplished. A Novel of 1950. 1947.
Washburn, Mark. The Armageddon Game. 1977.
Watts, Peter. Maelstrom. 2001.
Way, Peter. Sunrise. 1979.
Wheeler, J. Craig: The Krone Experiment. 1986.
Wibberley, Leonard. The Mouse That Roared. 1955.
Wilhelm, Kate. City of Cane. 1974. . Welcome, Chaos. 1983.
Wynd, Oswald. Death, the Red Flower. 1965.

Doubtful Cases

     In a surprising number of cases, it is uncertain whether a nuclear war has occurred or not. There are many vague holocausts to which no cause is ascribed. To list them all would be to go far beyond the bounds of this study; but in the case of most of the following works, one could make a reasonable case that the cause of the holocaust might well have been a nuclear war. In almost all cases, these works have been listed by one scholar or another as nuclear war narratives. Many others, erroneously listed as nuclear wars by these same scholars, have been omitted because their texts specifically make such a label inappropriate. Not uncommonly, tales of worldwide pollution (like Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's False Dawn) and ecocatastrophes of other sorts have been misidentified as concerning nuclear holocausts.

Bester, Alfred. The Demolished Man. 1952.
Bishop, Michael. "Vox Olympica." 1981.
Black, Dorothy. Candles in the Dark. 1954.
Boorman, John. Zardoz. 1974.
Burns, A. Europe After the Rain. 1965.
Dick, Philip K. "Imposter." 1953.
___. "The Turning Wheel." 1954.
Eklund, Gordon. Dance of the Apocalypse. 1976.
Erlanger, Michael. "Silence in Heaven." 1961.
Farmer, Philip Jose. A Woman a Day or The Day of Timestop. 1953.
Fitzgibbon, Constantine. Iron Hoop. 1949.
Forstchen, William R. The Flame Upon the lce. 1984.
Gibbs, Lewis. Late Final. 1951.
Goldston, Robert. The Shore Dimly Seen. 1963.
Groves, J. W. Shellbreak. 1970
Harrison, Helga. Catacombs. 1962.
Heyne, William R. Tale of Two Futures: A Novel of Life on Earth and the Planet Paliades in 1975. 1958.
Kelleam, Joseph E. "The Eagles Gather." 1942.
Key-Aberg, Sandro. "The End of Man." 1967.
LeGuin, Ursula. City of Illusions. 1967.
Macauley, Robie. Secret History of Time to Come. 1979.
MacTyre, Paul. Midge or Doomsday 1999. 1962
Murry, Colin. Phoenix. 1968.
Piper. H. Beam. "The Keeper." 1957.
Seabright, Idris. "Short in the Chest." 1954.
Van Vogt, A. E. "Co-Operate--Or Else!" 1942.
Wilhelm, Kate. Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang. 1976.
Williams, Jay. The People of the Ax. 1974.
Wilson, Richard. "A Man Spekith." 1969.
Wongar, B. "Maramara." 1978.
Zelazny, Roger. Today We Choose Faces. 1975.

Nuclear Bomb Tests

     In a number of cases a nuclear holocaust is not the result of a war at all, but of atomic bomb testing. These works, because they often closely resemble nuclear war novels, are likely to be of interest to the reader of this study, so they are listed below. A few deal with protests against atomic testing.

Anderson, William C[harles]. Five, Four, Three, Two, One--Pfftt.
Anvil, Christopher. "Torch." 1957.
Asimov, Isaac. "Hell Fire." 1956.
___. "Paté de fois gras." 1956.
Ballard, J. G. "The Voices of Time." 1960.
Buzzati, Dino. "A Siberian Shepherd's Report of the Atom Bomb." 1963.
Compton, David. "Mutatis Mutandis." In Laughter and Fear. 1960.
Dobraczynski, Jan. To Drain the Sea. 1964.
Duncan, Ronald. The Last Adam. 1952.
Ellanby, Boyd. "Chain Reaction." 1956.
Harrison, Michael. The Brain. 1953.
Hatch, Gerald. The Day the Earth Froze. 1963.
Lawrence, Henry Lionel. The Children of Light. 1962.
Lymington, John. The Giant Stumbles. 1960.
McAuley, Jacqueline Rollit. The Cloud.
MacGregor, James Murdoch. A Cry to Heaven. 1960.
Maine, Charles Eric. The Tide Went Out or Thirst. 1958.
Masson, Loys. Barbed Wire Fence or The Shattered Sexes. I95X.
Murphy, Robert. "Fallout Island." 1962.
Roberts, Keith. The Furies. 1965.
Schary, Dore. The Highest Tree. 1960.
Shadbolt, Maurice. Danger Zone. 1 976 .
Trevor, Elleston. The Domesday Story.
Wood, William. The News from Karachi. 1962.

Reactor Disasters

     The following works concern accidents involving nuclear reactors and other nonmilitary atomic installations. Some of them closely resemble the nuclear holocausts listed in the main bibliography.

Aldiss, Brian. Greybeard. 1964.
Brennert, Alan. "Jamie's Smile." 1976.
Brown, Jerry Earl. Under the City of Angels. 1981.
del Rey, Lester. Nerves. 1942.
Fontenay, C. L. The Day the Oceans Overflowed. 1964.
Gotlieb, Phyllis. Sunburst. 1964.
Heinlein, Robert A. "Blowups Happen." 1940.
Hoyle, Fred. The Westminster Disaster. 1978
Jackson, Basil. Epicenter. 1976.
Jameson, Malcolm. Atomic Bomb. 1943.
Kavan, Anna. Ice. 1967.
Levy, D. The Gods of Foxcroft. 1970.
McQuay, Mike. Matthew Swain. Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight. 1981.
Piper, H. Beam. "Day of the Moron." 1951
Pohnka, Bett and Barbara C. Griffin. The Nuclear Catastrophe. 1977.
Queffele, Rodney. Countdown to Doomsday. 1966.
Sambrot William "Nine Days to Die " 1960
Samuel, Edwin. "Danger!" 1960.
Schroeder, Karl. "The Dragon of Pripyat." 1999.
Scortia, Thomas N. The Prometheus Crisis. 1976.
Shiras, Wilmar H. Children of the Atom. 1953.
Tubb, E. C. Breakaway. 1975.
Warriner, Thurman. Death's Bright Angel. 1956.
Wells, Barry. The Day the Earth Caught Fire. 1962
Womack, Jack. Ambient. 1987.
Ziemann, H. H. The Explosion. 1979.

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Paul Brians