Nuclear Holocausts: Atomic War in Fiction

by Paul Brians

Nuclear Holocausts Bibliography: U

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John Updike. Toward the End of Time. New York: Knopf, 1997.
The post-holocaust setting of this novel seems to exist mainly to provide a suitably apocalyptic backdrop for the horny protagonist's impotence following an operation for prostate cancer. The American nation has dissolved, as have most other governments in the wake of a Sino-American nuclear war. Little of the area of New England where the novel is said has been much affected, the stock market still thrives, and the rich protagonist lives on much as he always has, pursuing women whose bodies he lusts after while he otherwise despises them. Artificial lifeforms made of metal, some of them feeding on petroleum, proliferate in the wake of the war. Despite these and other science-fictional touches, the novel is in essence a prolonged wail over the end of sexuality with the End of the World serving as mere metaphor.

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