Nuclear Holocausts: Atomic War in Fiction

by Paul Brians

Nuclear Holocausts Bibliography: V

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P  R S T U V W Y Z

Table of Contents

Wagar, W. Warren. A Short History of the Future: Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 1989. Revised second edition: 1992. Revised third edition: 1999.
This detailed outline of a future world history resembles H. G. Wells' The Shape of Things to Come. Despite its two revisions, it remains mostly a set of failed prophecies, useful mainly to illustrate how differently the future looked before 2001 (the author died in 2004). Instead of the burgeoning terrorist-led activities that dominate modern conflicts, traditional big-power spheres of influence proliferate, consolidate and lead to catastrophe. Chapter 2, "Ruling Circles," contains a brief description of a conflict triggered by a Pakistani invasion of India, which triggers the launching by India of two nuclear-tipped missles against the invaders. A nominally UN-led force intervenes and forces nuclear disarmament on India and Pakistan. After the UN has evolved into a sort of world government, rebellion leads to a many-sided nuclear war (Chapter Five: "The Catastrophe of 2044") which destroys 7.2 billion people and leads to the eventual setting up of two flawed utopias: one Marxist, the other inspired by anarchist ideals of local self-government (compare with Wells' The World Set Free). Cooling caused by dust in the atmosphere does not eventuate in a full-fledged nuclear winter, but leads to a temporary crop failure which in its turn causes widespread famine. The frenzied and chaotic fighting that takes place during World War III also destroys most environments located in space. See "Political Predictions They Got Wrong (no 32): A short History of the Future by W. Warren Wagar," by Matthew Ashton. Dr. Matthew Ashton's Politics Blog: Wagar was also the author of H. G. Wells and The World State, H. G. Wells: Traversing Time, and Terminal Visions: The Literature of Last Things.

Waldo, Edward Hamilton. See Sturgeon, Theodore.

Waldrop, F. N., and Poul Anderson. See under Anderson.

Waldrop, Howard. Them Bones. New York: Ace, 1984.
A group of young men is sent back in time after a nuclear war in order to try to prevent it from occurring. They are sent too far back: most of them die in an Indian massacre, and the one survivor settles down to live with the Indians of an alternative past. Cleverly told, but with little relevance to the theme of nuclear war.

Waldrop, Howard and Jake Saunders. See Saunders.

Wallace, Doreen. Forty Years On. London: Collins, l958.
One of the few cases in which a utopia is created as the result of nuclear warfare. Liberals in Europe who insisted on their countries being cleared of U.S. missiles bear the responsibility of a devastating surprise attack. The Isle of Ely is cut off from the rest of Great Britain ruled over by the previously established Council of Church and City for the Preservation of Civilization. Martial law suppresses looting with executions and enforces rationing. Many of the elderly die of "Old Folks' Rage," simply because they cannot accept change. The most valuable people in the new order are the farmers and the members of the educated middle class. "[It's] essential that some people who know about goodness and education and the arts should live, and should have power. These creatures who are going round raiding the farms, they don't care about preserving religion or schools or a health service, they only want to eat more than their rations. They must be kept down by force, while the ammo holds out." The local bishop leads the way in creating a moneyless cooperative society along apostolic lines. Non-food possessions are forcibly but equitably distributed to all. Fortuitously, when the ammunition has run out, the new system is firmly in place and popular with the general public. The second half of the novel depicts the wanderings of the sixty-year-old narrator on the mainland of Great Britain as he encounters less fortunate communities, including a band of wild boys called "Crocketts," after the Disney film, who kill their members at age sixty and raid neighboring tribes for women. Their folk music consists of old American pop tunes. Everywhere the narrator goes he hears tales of the disasters created by the urban refugees, variously referred to as "locusts" and "lemmings," and made up principally of the ignorant laboring class. Wallace is obsessed with overpopulation. Those areas where postwar plagues killed the vast majority of inhabitants are depicted as the most fortunate. The good folk of Ely, lacking contraceptives, gladly practice continence as their only form of birth control. Much of England, including Oxford and Cambridge (where classical education is still being carried on), has reverted to a medieval way of life, flatteringly depicted. The narrator also encounters a savage gang of former laborers ignorant of agriculture who practice infanticide, deliberately choosing extinction. They also eat one of his horses. When he comes to more densely populated areas near the coast the scene is nightmarish: the perpetually starving people practice cannibalism and keep down the population by segregating most men in the army and encouraging homosexuality. The narrator learns that although many refugees left for America after the war, neither that country nor the Soviet Union sent help later; both nations regarded England as too "liberal." The book is pervaded by a snobbish Fabian socialism, but it contains several effective scenes and is by far the most detailed postbomb utopia.

Warren, George. Dominant Species. Norfolk, Va.: Starblaze, 1979. New York: Ace, 1979.

Evil worm-creatures invade a backward planet of the decaying galactic empire using, among other weapons, atomic bombs.

Watkins, Peter. The War Game. London: Deutsch, l967. London: Sphere, l967. New York: Avon, l967.
A book adaptation with stills and dialogue of Watkins's documentary-style film depicting the effects of a nuclear attack on Britain. Provides a detailed dramatization of blast effects, firestorm, and radiation disease. Riots and looting are widespread. This powerful and effective film was produced for BBC television but never aired, although it is widely shown on college campuses.

Watson, Ian. The Embedding. New York: Scribner's, 1975. New York: Bantam, 1977.
Humanity proves its viciousness in this novel by using small nuclear weapons to destroy the vessels of visiting aliens interested in trading technology for human linguistic knowledge. A small nuclear bomb is also used to destroy an Amazon Basin dam.

Watson, Ian. "Returning Home." Omni, December l982.
An extrapolation of the idea of the neutron bomb. The Americans destroy all life in the Soviet Union with their super-bomb, and the Russians destroy all property in the U.S. (including clothes). The Americans who migrate to the depopulated USSR find themselves taken over by the spirits of the former inhabitants and begin to adopt the Russian language and culture.

Watson, Ian. "When Idaho Dived." In Janet Morris, ed. Afterwar. New York: Baen, 1985.
A fantasy set a century after the holocaust among surviving desert-dwellers. Seven formerly buried nuclear subs are uncovered by the wind. One is activated and burrows through the sand down to a richly stocked fallout shelter. The protagonist dreams of sailing the sub to the stars, but knows that this will never happen. His cannibalistic tribe instead will eat "my brain and my heart and my liver. But first of all you will eat my tongue, which spoke to you, saying all these things."

Weaver, Michael D. Mercedes Nights. New York: St. Martin's, 1987.
A cyberpunk novel about the criminal cloning of a popular video star set some time after World War III, with the ozone layer destroyed by pollution. During the course of the novel, war breaks out again with the Soviet Union, and a tactical nuclear bomb is used against Paris; but the nuclear war theme is relegated to the deep background.

___. My Father Immortal. New York: St. Martin's, 1989.
A hard-driving woman scientist tries to ensure that her offspring will survive the imminent nuclear war by launching them into space in suspended animation, to return after the Earth is restored to health. They encounter almost indestructible artificial mutants also created by her and engage in bloody combat until they can be reconciled. More thoughtful about nuclear war than most of its kind.

Weinbaum, Stanley G. The Black Flame (as "The Black Flame," Startling Stories, January 1939 and "Dawn of Flame", Thrilling Wonder Stories, June 1939). Reading, Pa: Fantasy Press, 1948.
In the era after the destruction of civilization through gas and germ warfare, atomic power is rediscovered. Atomic-powered ray weapons are developed.

Wells, H[erbert] G[eorge]. The World Set Free. London: Macmillan, l9l4. London & Glasgow: Collins, l956. London: Corgi, l976. Norwalk, Conn.: Leisure Books, l97l.
One of the first novels depicting an atomic war. The conflict ends with the establishment of a committee of strong men who impose a world government with a monopoly on atomic weapons. See P.K.: "When H. G.Wells Split the Atom: A 1914 Preview of 1945," The Nation (august 18, 1945): 154; Patrick Parrinder: "Edwardian Awakenings: H. G. Wells's Apocalyptic Romances (1898-1915)," in Imagining Apocalypse: Studies in Cultural Crisis, ed. David Seed. London: Macmillan, 2000, pp. 62-74. [More]

West, Wallace. "Eddie for Short" (Amazing, January l954). In Isaac Asimov, Martin Harry Greenberg and Charles G. Waugh, eds. The Last Man On Earth. New York: Fawcett, l982.
The sole fertile survivor of a war which grew out of a small Asian conflict (Korea?) is a young torch singer mysteriously spared by the Hell bombs which spread radioactive gas. Inspired by Sophocles, she names her infant "Oedipus" and looks forward to mating with him.

Westcott, C. T. Eagleheart 1: Silver Wings and Leather Jackets. New York: Dell, 1989.

Westcott, C. T. Eagleheart 2: Broadsides and Brass. New York: Dell, 1989.

Westcott, C. T. Eagleheart 3: Blood and Bones. New York: Dell, 1989.

Weston, Susan B. Children of the Light. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1985.
The nineteen-year-old son of an activist mother finds himself mysteriously transported into a period long after a nuclear holocaust called "the time of the light." A few descendants of survivors struggle on in isolated communities, producing mentally and physically handicapped offspring. He struggles to redevelop certain aspects of technology with limited success, but his main contribution to the community is as a fertile male in a world where such men are rare, begetting offspring on an eager group of young women. Mentions EMP, cannibalism. The novel is considerably more thoughtful than most, developing in some detail the protagonist's reluctance to become a mere stud, reflecting on the difficulties of rebuilding civilization once it has been destroyed, and reflecting an awareness of the contemporary vogue for nuclear war fiction. In the first chapter there occurs the following insightful paragraph: Welling up beneath responsible national debate was a flood of fantasy books and science-fiction stories set in post-holocaust landscapes. Now, this happened to suit Jeremy's taste in recreational literature: He actually liked reading about heroes who rode forth on genetic mutations of the horse to do battle with evil monsters called leemutes or gamma gorts. But he was also capable of intuitive leaps, and he knew why these books were so popular. It was the domestication of a society's worst nightmare. Nuclear war as a return to frontier innocence, with an irradiated Huck Finn lighting out for the territories. Wipe the polluted, industrialized slate clean and start over, because it was unimaginable that there wouldn't be somebody to start over. As if, Jeremy thought, to that ultimate horror there might be an arcadian solution, a simplicity, a return to clear moral distinctions. The remainder of the novel is designed to demonstrate how simplistic is this popular view of life after nuclear war.

Wheeler, Harvey and Eugene Burdick. See Burdick.

White, E. B. "The Morning of the Day They Did It" (New Yorker, February 25, l950). In Anthony Boucher, ed. A Treasury of Great Science Fiction, vol. 2. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, l959. Also in Isabel Gordon & Sophie Sorkin, eds. The Armchair Science Reader. New York: Simon & Schuster, l959. Also in Gregory Fitz Gerald and Jack C. Wolfe, eds. Past, Present, and Future Perfect. Greenwich, Conn.: Fawcett, l973. Illustrated with a small sketch by James Thurber.
A whimsical satire on pollution, television, and the arms race. Orbiting military men find that weightlessness has deprived them of normal human feelings, including their sense of loyalty; they launch their missiles against the U.S., triggering a war which destroys the Earth. The narrator and the rest of humanity now live on another planet.

White, James. "Christmas Treason" (Fantasy and Science Fiction, January l962). In Judith Merril, ed. 8th Annual Edition: The Year's Best S-F. New York: Simon & Schuster l963. New York: Dell, l964. Rpt. as The Best of Science Fiction 4. London: Mayflower, l965. Also in Richard Davis, ed. Space l. London: Abelard-Schuman, l973.
A group of children with psychic powers seeks Santa Claus and concludes that its presents are supposed to be delivered by missiles; but a plot is keeping them from being launched. They launch the missiles themselves, loaded with toys rather than bombs. The result is international disarmament. Cute.

___. Second Ending (Fantastic, June, July l96l). Bound with Samuel R. Delany's The Jewels of Aptor. New York: Ace, l962.
The hero awakes after a prolonged period of suspended animation to find Earth devastated by an accidental nuclear war. Automatic machinery had continued to create and launch nuclear weapons until the entire planet was absolutely sterilized. With the aid of a host of highly intelligent robots the hero first tries to re-evolve life on Earth from a few grass seeds and then outsleeps the death of the solar system to awake on another, distant planet with humanoid life to which the robots have transported him. An author's note points out that he wished to write a last man on Earth story with an "up-beat ending."

Whitmore, Charles. Winter's Daughter: The Saying of Signe Raghnhilds-datter. New York: Timescape, 1984.
The adventures of a courageous and independent woman born of white parents in Tanzania who wanders to America and Norway in the wake of a nuclear war which devastates the Northern Hemisphere. Written in the style of a Norse saga. Myths tell how the sun was obscured for three days by the war. Radiation disease, miscarriages, mutations, and cancer followed in its wake. The southern nations colonize North America, and Africa imposes an interdict forbidding travel to and trade with Northern Europe. Old feudal ways are reborn; superstition revives. Much of the latter part of the novel deals with a chain of tragedies brought about by religious bigotry.

Wiley, Ray H. On the Trail of l960: A Utopian Novel. New York: Exposition, l950.
An eccentric utopia created in the wake of a l952 nuclear war: "It finally took a war of atom bombs, pestilence, and famine to wake the people up, that is, the half that survived." Such plot as there is concerns the successful suppression of a counterrevolutionary movement which uses "cosmic bombs" left over from the holocaust. The remaining weapons will be disassembled and used for peaceful purposes.

Williams, Nick Boddie. The Atom Curtain. Bound with Gordon Dickson. Alien from Arcturus. New York: Ace, l956.
A bizarre parable of the cold war. In 2230 the Americas have been cut off from the rest of the world for l70 years by a defensive curtain of deadly radioactivity created when Russia was devastated by American rockets. A pilot who accidentally manages to penetrate it finds that high levels of radioactivity have forced most of the inhabitants of America to de-evolve into neanderthals, with the few superior types being selected out by a cruel, three-century-old dictator who uses supertechnology periodically to dissolve the rest and flush them into Yellowstone Park: the nation's toilet. The dictator still has missiles aimed at the world outside and also could spread the curtain around the world. He is defeated and dies, but the hero decides--following the tradition of science fiction that technology is never evil in itself--that the ancient knowledge must be adapted to solve the problems of world hunger and disease. The love affair in this book is right out of magazine cartoons: he falls in love with a naked cave woman who becomes sexually aroused and submissive only when clubbed over the head. Absurd in its details, the novel is nevertheless remarkable for being a self-conscious critique of the destructive nature of the isolation which America's fears created during the height of the cold war. The author's preface states explicitly that the notion of a radioactive curtain around America was suggested by the image of the iron curtain around the Communist world.

Williams, Paul O. [Pelbar Cycle #1] The Breaking of Northwall. New York: Ballantine, l98l. Book I of the Pelbar Cycle.
Set in the distant future in a neobarbarian U.S., depicting the union of previously warring tribes against a common foe. Although Williams stresses the need for eliminating conflict, the novel seems like a fairly typical war story. Stresses intermarriage as a form of alliance-building.

___. [Pelbar Cycle #2] The Ends of the Circle. New York: Ballantine, l98l.
This novel is the best of the series. A husband and wife quest story dealing more with sex roles than war. Like the first volume, asserts the value of diplomacy over violence, but more convincingly. Each member of the pair encounters a series of tribes with varying ideas on male-female roles. The lesson they learn is that equality is best. Contains a good scene dealing with a would-be rapist.

___. [Pelbar Cycle #3] The Dome in the Forest. New York: Ballantine, l98l. Book III of the Pelbar Cycle.
It is revealed that the nuclear war which destroyed the old civilization was an accident triggered by a meteor shower. The barbarians uncover a self-sustaining subterranean shelter which has preserved life for eleven hundred years. The inhabitants have lost all contact with the outside (reminiscent of the generation starship in Heinlein's "Universe" and similar stories), refusing to emerge because they have been fooled by an anomalously high radioactivity reading just outside the shelter. An interesting and complex treatment, avoiding generalizations and simplifications, of the relationship between the rather coldly intellectual shelter inhabitants and the emotional barbarians. The novel, like others in this series, includes a minimum of violence, which it depicts as unnecessary and senseless. [76-77]

___. [Pelbar Cycle #4] The Fall of the Shell. New York: Ballantine, l982.
Concerns the overthrow of a female-dominated dictatorship. The theme is still the reduction of tension between tribes, but the plot hinges mainly on violence. Little relationship to the theme of nuclear war.

___. [Pelbar Cycle #5] An Ambush of Shadows. New York: Ballantine, l983.
A fairly conventional war story in which the chemistry learned from the inhabitants of the Dome in The Dome in the Forest is applied to create weapons. Rocketry has been reinvented, along with chemical warfare. People worship a radioactive statue which must be destroyed; in the long tradition of fiction depicting barbaric religions in nuclear war fiction.

___. [Pelbar Cycle #6] The Song of the Axe. New York: Ballantine, 1984.
Exploration to the northeast reveals the existence of a huge ice sheet, the product of climatic changes from the Time of Fire. The emphasis of the novel is, as usual, on overcoming antagonism between differing tribes. Hang gliders and hot-air balloons are reinvented. Book VII, The Sword of Forbearance, was published in 1985.

___. [Pelbar Cycle #7] The Sword of Forbearance. New York: Del Rey, 1985.
The Heart River Federation struggles against the marauding Innanigani, who uncover five unexploded nuclear weapons. One bomb is disconnected from its timer by the Federation, but another is set off. EMP ruins radio equipment. A peace is negotiated out of fear of the weapons, and the remaining bombs are buried in concrete. Passersby ceremonially add to the pile of rocks over the weapons.

Williams, Robert Moore. The Day They H-Bombed Los Angeles. New York: Ace, l961.
When a mutated protein molecule "goes mad"--perhaps under the influence of atomic bomb testing--a monstrous entity is created which, washed up in the form of sea scum, creates a race of vicious zombies in Los Angeles. The government, attempting to prevent the spread of the monsters, drops nuclear bombs on the city. The story depicts the struggle to survive in the quarantined area of a motley group of citizens, including a faded movie star who once made an A-bomb movie called Doomsday Eve (the title of Williams's other nuclear war novel; see below). A brilliant scientist among them comes up with a vaccine which promises to halt the plague, and the surviving protagonists are rescued by a U. S. marine helicopter. The opening pages are striking, as the protagonist does a lot of acting and thinking between the moment of the flash and the moment of the shock wave. The behavior of the random crowd gathered in a scantily provisioned fallout shelter is fairly realistically depicted; but after the opening chapters, the novel turns into a routine monster tale. Sex gets plenty of attention: a beautiful young woman is blown into the protagonist's arms by the blast, and the actress insists on stripping off her rain-drenched clothes and displaying her "body beautiful." As in most earlier novels, the resourceful characters are male; the women are either silly or terrified. Takes place in l970.

___. Doomsday Eve. Bound with Eric Frank Russell. Three to Conquer. New York: Ace, l957.
In 2020, a nuclear war of the Asian Federation against the U.S. has been raging for eleven years when mutated humans with superpowers and immunity to radiation emerge, determine to allow the war to run its course so that humanity may learn the folly of armed combat. When the fighting is over, the New People will emerge and teach the others the new way. They use defensive weapons such as a fear generator and sleep gas. In the course of the conflict, America has lost its freedom through internal restrictions and then practically ceased to exist as a nation. When Asians launch a superbomb which will devastate life in much of what territory is left, the hero has himself projected into the missile and sets it to detonate prematurely. The superbeings are casual about nudity and there is the usual love subplot. Includes the idea common in the forties and fifties that industry should be decentralized to make it less vulnerable. Unusual emphasis on pacifism and world unity for the date.

___. "The Incredible Slingshot Bombs." Amazing, May l942.
An absurd pre-Hiroshima tale of miniature atomic bombs from the future singled out by Russian critics as symbolizing the American attitude toward atomic weapons. [More]

Williams, Walter Jon. Voice of the Whirlwind. New York: Tor, 1987.
An interplanetary soldier struggles to establish his identity against the background of a nuclear war on a distant planet. Humans fight viciously for possession of the technology left behind by an alien race.

Williamson, J. N. The House of Life. In John Maclay, ed. Nukes: Four Horror Writers on the Ultimate Horror. Baltimore: Maclay, 1986
Three unconnected narratives set in the wake of a nuclear war. A young woman abandoned by her survivalist boyfriend gives birth to an extremely deformed infant in a fallout shelter and bleeds to death. A dog roams the landscape, looking for something familiar, and dies. An elderly couple, after futilely trying to aid survivors, commits suicide by confronting a black gang, shouting "niggler" to infuriate them into killing them.

Williamson, Jack. "The Equalizer" (Astounding, March l947). In The Pandora Effect. New York: Ace, l969. Also in The Best of Jack Williamson. New York: Ballantine, 1978.
The atomic bomb abolished equality and brought about a dictatorship called the "Directorate," which in its turn is abolished by the invention of a cheap, compact weapon called the "Equalizer."

___. The Humanoids (originally as ". . . And Searching Mind," Astounding, March, April, May 1948). New York: Simon & Schuster, 1949. New York: Grossett & Dunlap, 1950. New York: Galaxy, 1954. New York: Lancer, 1963. New York: Avon, 1976. Boston: Gregg, 1980. Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.: Ultramarine, 1980. London: Museum, 1953. London: Sphere, 1977. Sequel to "With Folded Hands . . . ."
A cataclysmic war impends as super-atomic weapons have been planted on a planet by its enemy. The humanoids arrive, imposing peace through slavery. It is explained that the humanoids were originally built on Wing IV after it was ruined by an atomic war. The power used by the Humanoids--rhodomagnetism--is clearly based on atomic energy. In Magill 2, 981-85.

___. The Legion of Time (Astounding, May, June, July 1938). Reading, Pa.: Fantasy Press, 1952. Bound with After World's End. New York: PermaBooks, 1963. New York: Pyramid, 1967. London: Digit, 1961.
A battle between two alternative futures involving atomic-powered time travel and an atomic ray weapon.

___. "The Man from Outside" (Astounding, March l95l). In The Trial of Terra. New York: Ace, l962. Also in People Machines. New York: Ace, l97l. Also in August Derleth, ed. Beachheads In Space. New York: Pellegrini & Cudahy, l952. Also in Milton Lesser [pseud. of Stephen Marlowe], ed. Looking Forward. New York: Beechhurst Press, l953. Also in August Derleth, ed. From Other Worlds. London: FSB, l964.
A race living on the moon detects the first atomic bomb blast, then others, but has a policy of strict noninterference. An idealistic young agent interferes in a Russian plot to use a thermonuclear bomb; learns that all races must be allowed to discover for themselves whether they can handle nuclear weapons.

___. "With Folded Hands. . . ." (Astounding, July 1947). In The Pandora Effect. New York: Ace, 1969. Also in The Best of Jack Williamson. New York: Ballantine, 1978. Also in Groff Conklin, ed. A Treasury of Science Fiction. New York: Crown, 1948. New York: Berkley, 1957. Also in Sam Moskowitz, ed. Modern Masterpieces of Science Fiction. New York: World, 1965. Also in Roger Elwood, ed. Invasion of the Robots. New York: Paperback Library, 1965. Also in Sam Moskowitz, ed. Doorway Into Time. New York: Macfadden-Bartell, 1966. Also in Robert Silverberg, ed. Men and Machines: Ten Stories oi Science Fiction. Des Moines, Iowa,: Meredith, 1968. Also in James E. Gunn, ed. The Road to Science Fiction #2. New York: Mentor, 1979. Also in Stanley Schmidt, ed. Analog: Writers' Choice (Anthology #5). New York: Dial, 1983. New York: Davis, 1983. Also in Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg, eds. The Great Science Fiction Stories: 9 (1947). New York: DAW, 1983. Sequel: The Humanoids.
From the distant planet of Wing IV come the rhodomagnetic robots known as the Humanoids, whose sole purpose is to serve and protect mankind, ending the danger of war. They do so by depriving them of almost all their freedom. In the sequel it is revealed that the Humanoids were invented in the wake of a devastating atomic war on Wing IV.

Willson, Harry. A World for the Meek. Albuquerque, New Mexico: Amador, 1987.
An amateurish fantasy involving an elderly man who emerges from a meditative trance inside a Pueblo kiva to find that a war has killed everyone else except himself and a strange Indian baby which matures at an unnatural rate, then dies half way through the novel. The weapons used killed all living flesh without damaging anything else. During the second half of the novel he grows younger as his life span is enormously prolonged. After two million years, he consorts and cavorts with newly-evolved intelligent octopuses and dolphins. Finally they locate a beautiful woman for him to mate with, and he heads off to meet her and found a better human race.

Wilson, Angus. The Old Men at the Zoo. London: Secker & Warburg, 1961. New York: Viking, 1961.
A bizarre allegory of international conflict. In 1970 the London Zoo is beset with difficulties as a giraffe tramples a keeper to death, and the older generation of zookeepers is pitted against the younger as they confront a variety of issues. At the end of this novel of office politics, a nuclear war breaks out, destroying most of England and severely damaging the zoo. The politics of the war are unclear, but a neofacist pan-European coalition is involved. Pressures mount to kill the animals in the collection to feed the starving populace of London; and a mob attacks, killing one of the keepers in the process. The fleeing secretary-narrator uses his expertise in studying badgers to trap and kill them for food. Conquered England becomes a grim place, dotted with concentration camps. A vaguely depicted liberation overthrows the new regime. The zoo, when reopened, panders to debased tastes: a bear-baiting pit is to symbolize disdain for the Russians and an eagle, symbolizing America, is torn to pieces. By the author of Anglo-Saxon Attitudes (1978).

Wilson, Mitchell. Live With Lightning. Boston: Little, Brown, 1949. London: W. H. Allen, 1950.

An unusually intelligent and sensitive novel depicting the career of a young nuclear physicist in the thirties and forties. He becomes involved in secret atomic energy research as part of the Manhattan Project, but does not work directly on the bomb, although he witnesses the Trinity Test. Postwar security obsessions are criticized, as well as the concentration of all atomic research on weapons rather than energy.

Wilson, Richard. "Mother to the World." In Damon Knight, ed. Orbit 3. New York: Putnam, l968. New York: Berkley, l968. Also in Poul Anderson, ed. Nebula Award Stories no. 4. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, l969. Also in Damon Knight, ed. The Best from Orbit. New York: Berkley, l975. Also in Arthur C. Clarke, ed. The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Vol. 3. New York: Avon, 1982.
A postholocaust Adam and Eve story in which the only remaining man, 42, is paired with a retarded woman, 28. The U.S. began the war with nuclear weapons, but the Chinese retaliated with a biochemical weapon which killed all humans save these two, hidden in a self-contained shelter. The hero has to deal with feral dogs and liberates most animals from the Bronx Zoo (shooting only the big cats); but most of the story deals with his reluctance to become the lover of the young woman who presents the only hope for a future for the human race. Thoughtful, detailed depiction of his struggles. He finally overcomes his scruples and repugnance and mates with her, producing both a boy and a girl he hopes will carry on the race. Toward the end tells his son the facts of life, which includes the necessity for incest, perhaps even with his own mother. This theme has seldom been treated as anything other than a joke, but Wilson takes it seriously, giving the story a surprisingly simple optimistic ending.

Wilson, Steve. The Lost Traveller. London: Macmillan, l976. London: Pan, l977. New York: St. Martin's Press, l976.
The l993 atomic holocaust known as BLAM, supplemented by poisons and drugs, left Hell's Angels among the most fitted to survive. A group of them is sent to fetch a captive scientist who will help to revive agriculture. The basic idea is a pretty straightforward imitation of Roger Zelazny's Damnation Alley. The bikers ally themselves with Lakota Indians. The climax of the novel depicts an all-out battle between the Angels and the army. Lots of sex and violence.

Winchell, Walter. "Walter Winchell in Moscow." See under Collier's.

Winslow, Pauline Glen. I, Martha Adams. London: Arlington, 1982. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1984. New York: Baen, 1986.
The American failure to build the MX missile in its mobile basing mode leads to a successful preemptory nuclear strike by the USSR from Cuba and Panama, culminating in the surrender of the government and a ruthless occupation by the Russians. The newly subjected nation is run through the U.N., where the strike and occupation were planned. But the U.S. has an ace in the hole, a secret weapon known to only a few scientists and leaders: the MY or Magnaminity missile, a new sort of cobalt bomb designed by Israeli scientists and built secretly in South Africa at the orders of the late President Reagan (unfortunately assassinated with Vice President Bush by a terrorist bomb) who financed it with billions of dollars supposedly appropriated for water projects. The Russians have been hampered in their particle beam and laser weapon research by the success of a KGB-inspired peace movement in the U.S. which halted American research the Russians wanted to steal. The invasion follows the classic Red Menace scenario: food rationing is immediately instituted for no very clear reason, millions are killed or imprisoned, the ghettos are cleared, and Jews are targeted for extermination. Chinese-Americans are targeted when China is suspected of harboring the new super-weapon. A band of resistance fighters is wiped out by atomic bombing. Russia launches a preemptive strike against China and is devastated in its turn by the surprisingly well-armed Chinese. EMP disrupts Russian communications. The head of the KGB kills his army rival and assumes absolute power in the U.S. shortly before the heroine and her son seize the hidden MY missile and blackmail the Reds into leaving.

Wolfe, Bernard. Limbo. New York: Random House, l952. New York: Ace, l952. As Limbo 90. London: Secker & Warburg, l953. Harmondsworth: Penguin, l96l.
The world responds to an abortive nuclear war caused by computers by adopting voluntary amputation as a means of literal disarmament. The book is heavily Freudian. A philosophical treatise more than a novel, condemning pacifism as self-destructive. Terrifically misogynistic. According to Schuyler Miller in his "Reference Library" column in Analog (May l964, p. 90), Limbo was intended as a parody of science fiction themes which Wolfe was amazed to find taken seriously. See David N. Samuelson, "Limbo: The Great American Dystopia," Extrapolation l9 (l977): 76-87. In Magill, 3: l22l-25. [More]

Wood, Robert Williams, and Arthur Train. See Train.

Wouk, Herman. The Lomokome Papers (Collier's, February l7, l956). New York: Pocket Books, l968.
A visitor to the moon learns that two races with opposing philosophies have been using nuclear weapons in a series of wars with each other since 347 A.D. The discovery of a silicon device capable of dissolving the Earth makes further uncontrolled war impossible; and a prophet lays down regulations for "Reasonable War," governed by a "College of Judges." The strength of each side is determined by the number of people who volunteer to die in a throat-cutting ceremony. An antiwar parable.

Wren, M. K. A Gift Upon the Shore. New York: Ballantine, 1990. New York: Ballantine, 1991. London: Penguin, 1991.
Two women struggle to keep knowledge alive in Oregon in the wake of a general collapse climaxed by a nuclear war ("the End") and an ensuing nuclear winter and plague. Electromagnetic pulse effects destroy electronics, and damage to the ozone layer leads to widespread blindness in both humans and animals. After a period during which roving bandits pose the main threat, the greatest obstacle to the survival of civilization is the flourishing of bigoted Christian fundamentalism among the few survivors left. More sensitive and intelligent than most such stories. A list of the books chosen by the main characters to perpetuate human culture is printed on the inside of the dust jacket.

Wyatt, Patrick. Irish Rose. London: Michael Joseph, l975.
The story of a beautiful young woman struggling for freedom and romance in a brutally misogynistic, homosexual culture founded when the side effects of birth control pills sterilized all white women and set off a series of conflicts known as the "Pill Wars." The only hint that nuclear weapons were involved is the existence of radioactive hotspots, including "Aldermaston Lake," haunted by Atom ghosts called Ogey-Bogies, Comic in tone, the story is a typical revolt against repressive postholocaust orthodoxy except that in the end it turns into a serious endorsement of the development of latent telepathic powers, not--for once--the result of radiation-induced mutation. Compare Suzy McKee Charnas, Walk to the End of the World.

Wylie, Philip. The Answer (Saturday Evening Post, May 7, l955). New York: Rinehart, l965. New York: Paperback Library, l963. London: Muller, l956. Also in The Post Reader of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, l964.
Both the Americans and the Russians kill an angel during an H-bomb test. The Russians fear that their atheism and belief in communism is threatened and determine to obliterate the angel's body with a second explosion. The Americans discover a golden book brought by their angel which contains the same short message written in many languages: "Love one another." The story was originally published with testimonials from Bernard Baruch, Milton Eisenhower, Eleanor Roosevelt, Norman Vincent Peale, and Carl Sandburg.

___. "Blunder" (Collier's, January l2, l946). In August Derleth, ed. Strange Ports of Call. New York: Pellegrini & Cudahy, l948.
Set in approximately l974. New England and Central Europe have been destroyed in a limited nuclear war called the "short war" which began when the U.S. was hit by a sneak attack on Christmas Eve. The cold war continues, but seems quite irrelevant to the major event of the story: the destruction of the Earth by accident. Norwegian scientists, attempting to use a "bismuth fission" bomb to generate a natural atomic energy pile in a volcanic formation instead set off a chain reaction which in "slightly less than one nineteenth of a second" spreads throughout the globe, splits the planet open so that the magma gushes out and Earth is transformed into a small sun which swallows the moon. Wylie notes that the creation of this new sun must be gratifying to the Martians, if any there be. A striking departure from Wylie's usually realistic depiction of this theme, although a few Manhattan Project scientists had speculated about the possibility of such a worldwide chain reaction with the first atomic bomb (but these speculations would hardly have been known to Wylie in l946).

___. "Jungle Journey" (Jack London's Adventure Magazine, December l958). In Sam Moskowitz, ed. Masterpieces of Science Fiction. New York: World, l966.
An expedition led by a beautiful socialite in Southeast Asia discovers, among carnivorous plants, an ancient spaceship abandoned by explorers from another world. They learn from manuscripts left behind that the aliens plan to return this very year to determine whether humanity has abandoned its violent ways. If it has not, and has the technology to threaten other worlds, it will be exterminated. The world, alarmed, hastens to reform itself before the aliens arrive. According to Wylie's agents, Harold Ober Associates, the author's original title for this story was "Strange Language."

___. "The Paradise Crater." Blue Book, October l945. [Incorrectly identified in Contento's Index as an alternate title for "Jungle Journey."]
The first nuclear war story published after Hiroshima, but written before that event. An editor's note at the beginning of this story says, "May the atomic bomb sometime be turned against us? This remarkable novel of the brave new world of l965 foresees such an event. The story was completed several months ago, but because of very needful censorship restrictions, publication has been withheld until now." The future contains domed cities, robot waiters, transparent helicopters, various cheap energy sources, and obnoxious television commercials. The hero--a former Olympic track star who speaks seven languages--explains to the heroine--a beautiful 23-year-old Ph.D. who can cook--the danger posed by weapons made from U-237: "A cupful of it, if you knew how to blow it, would take a corner off Los Angeles." Sabotage and murder at a desalinization project lead the couple on the trail of a conspiracy of former Nazi refugees who have formed the Einfuhralles [sic] Society, aiming at world rule through atomic terror. The hero sneaks into the villains' subterranean mountain stronghold to discover that their scientists have willingly exposed themselves to lethal doses of radioactivity in their fanatical drive to build atomic bombs. Posing as one of these heroic figures, he sabotages their cache, causing an impressive explosion: flames shoot 40,000 feet in the air, a quake wreaks havoc throughout much of the western United States and Canada, a tidal wave roars west from the shores of California and inundates thousands of "Japanese savages on distant Nippon." In place of the mountain where the bombs were built there is now a crater two miles deep and thirty across. The heroine, despite her having abjured the brazen ways of sixties women, proposes; but it's all right: l965 is a leap year. [

___. "Philadelphia Phase." See under Collier's.

___. The Smuggled Atom Bomb (Saturday Evening Post, August 4, ll, l8, 25, September l, l95l). New York: Avon, l95l. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, l965. New York: Lancer, l967. Also in Three To Be Read. New York: Rinehart, l95l.
A bright young man discovers Russian agents smuggling atom bombs piecemeal into the U.S.

___. Tomorrow! New York: Rinehart, l954. New York: Popular Library, l956.
Contrasts two towns: one with good civil defense preparations, the other with poor ones, but the fate of both is so awful that the lesson being proffered is somewhat muted. The U.S. ends the war by using a superbomb to destroy the USSR. Writes Wylie: "The last great obstacles to freedom had been removed from the human path." Contains a detailed, gruesome account of the actual attack and its immediate consequences. Wylie creates a large cast of characters most of whom are killed off, but the most sympathetic ones survive or even benefit, including his heroine, a young civil defense worker, "the prettiest girl in two states." The novel ends on a cheerful, upbeat note, for a better world will emerge from the ashes. The war is presented as a kind of drastic slum clearance project. A one-hour radio dramatization narrated by Orson Welles was broadcast October 17, 1956. [More & More]

___. Triumph. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, l963. New York: Fawcett, l964.
The war begins with a Russian invasion of Jugoslavia, which has recently voted to become a Western ally. When the Russians attack the U.S., a wealthy industrialist invites his guests and fleeing passersby to join him in his enormous, lavishly appointed fallout shelter. As in Tomorrow! a detailed description of the effects of an atomic bomb blast is given (in chapter 5). Wylie makes it clear that people in shelters immediately under ground zero will suffocate or bake. A first strike destroys 65 percent of American missiles, but the rest are used to retaliate against Russia. Then America is attacked by one thousand Russian weapons which destroy all major cities. Writes Wylie: "What, fundamentally, the free-world leaders--military and political--had never understood was that the Russian Communist leaders had always been willing to pay any price whatever to conquer the world, so long as some of the Soviet elite survived to be its rulers" (chapter 5). China, England, and France are also hit. The only voice on the air comes from a manned weather space station which was in a position to observe the war. It then transpires that the coasts have been mined with bombs in order to spread radioactive sodium inland, rendering the entire North American continent a deadly wasteland; but the fate of the USSR is no better. Enough of the enemy survive, however, to carpet the U.S. with a second wave of bombs, topped by a cobalt superbomb designed to press the fallout back onto the surface, providing a striking illustration of the term "overkill." A year later, surviving submarines on both sides destroy the last remnants of each others' military power, ending the threat that the Russians will emerge to attempt to rule the Southern Hemisphere through nuclear blackmail. "So, within hours, the last effective adherent of communism and its last effective instrument of force vanished. The doctrines of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Khruschev, Merov, and Grovsky [two fictional post-Khruschev premiers] were finally undone . . . at the cost of half a world and of the vast majority of people who once called themselves free and civilized" (chapter l4). In chapter l5 nuclear war is said to be a form of mutual suicide, essentially unwinnable. A Central American television broadcast displays views of the aftermath of the war in chapter l0. Park Avenue is a river of molten glass. In contrast to the relative optimism of Tomorrow! civil defense precautions are depicted as failures; but in this sort of war, no feasible measures could have been adequate. (It is estimated near the novel's end that a really secure system of shelters would have cost approximately ten million dollars per person.) Many people who had access to shelters fled them to avoid being trapped by buildings collapsing on top of them. In the shelter an oddly assorted group of survivors works out its racial and sexual differences with impressive ease. The racial theme is treated in great detail, but there is fortunately only one bigot in the group: a passing meter reader who happens to get swept up into the shelter but later dies a hero. Even more attention is given to the characters' sex lives, with emphasis being placed on the need for open-mindedness and the acceptance of nonmarital sex. The pairing off of the characters is facilitated by the fact that all of the women are beautiful. The one who threatens at the book's beginning to be an alcoholic harridan like the mother in Heinlein's Farnham's Freehold reforms and becomes the most admirable of all. A truly excessive amount of space is devoted to discussions of sex; so much so that Wylie felt obliged to include passages in which his characters comment on their excessive concern with the subject. In the end, the shelter-dwellers--seemingly the only surviving Americans--are rescued by heroic Australians. A world government is being formed in the Southern Hemisphere, aimed at banishing war. The novel exemplifies to an extreme degree the tendency to emphasize survival. Although the world outside is devastated, the shelter-dwellers almost all survive; and many are even improved by their stay below ground. Triumph is in part an answer to other nuclear war fiction. In chapter 9 Wylie writes: "There were lots of prophetic books and movies about total war in the atomic age, and all of them were practically as mistaken as plain people and politicians and the Pentagon planners. In all of them that I recall, except for one, we Americans took dreadful punishment and then rose from the ground like those Greek-legend--Jason's men--and defeated the Soviets and set the world free. That one, which came closer to reality so far as the Northern Hemisphere is concerned, showed how everybody on earth died." The reference is clearly to Nevil Shute's On the Beach, whose main thesis--that radioactive fallout carried by winds would cross the equator and destroy the Southern Hemisphere--is denied by Wylie in chapter 7. On all Wylie's science fiction, see Clifford P. Bendan. Still Worlds Collide: Philip Wylie and the End of the American Dream. San Bernardino, Calif.: Borgo, 1980. [More, More, More & More]

Wyndham, John [pseud. of John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Benyon Harris]. The Chrysalids. London: Michael Joseph, l955. Harmondsworth: Penguin, l958. London: Hutchinson, l964. As Re-Birth. New York: Ballantine, l955. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, l959. Also in Anthony Boucher, ed. A Treasury of Great Science Fiction, vol. 2. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, l959.
An excellent story of an emerging race with ESP, hunted by "normals" trying to hang on to traditional values, ruthlessly exterminating all deviation. A moving portrait, richer than most, of the fate of mutants. Mutations are caused, of course, by a long-past nuclear war. Rescuers come from New Zealand, homeland of Poul Anderson's Maurai and of the protagonist of Aldous Huxley's Ape and Essence. The Chrysalids is the source for the song "Crown of Creation" by the rock group Jefferson Airplane, which draws on the following passage: "In loyalty to their kind they cannot tolerate our rise [changed to 'minds' in the song]; in loyalty to our kind, we cannot tolerate their obstruction." Wyndham's novel also contributes the title of both the song and the album on which it appears: "They are the crown of creation, they are ambition fulfilled, they have nowhere more to go." The cover of Crown of Creation depicts a nuclear explosion, labelled in the notes as being from Hiroshima, courtesy of the United States Air Force. In a recent interview (Heavy Metal magazine, August l984), Airplane lyricist Paul Kantner comments that he noted down the lines from The Chrysalids years before he used them to express the revolutionary attitude of the group. The novel is an appropriate source for a youth revolt song, because it depicts the newly enlightened race struggling to survive in the oppressive culture of its parents. Like Edgar Pangborn's Davy, Leigh Brackett's The Long Tomorrow, and Edmund Cooper's The Cloud Walker, the young protagonists are designed to engage the sympathies of rebellious youngsters. The Chrysalids is more than a youth revolt novel, however. It is also a cogent argument for tolerance and was probably intended by its author more as a brief against racism and other familiar forms of bigotry. In Magill as Re-Birth, 4: 1755-58. [More, More & More]

___. The Kraken Wakes (originally as "The Things From the Deep" in Everybody's). London: Michael Joseph, l953. London: Sidgwick & Jackson, l955. Harmondsworth: Penguin, l955. Abridged by G. C. Thornley. London: Longmans Green, l959. Abridged by S. S. Moody. London: Longmans Green, 1961. As Out of the Deeps. New York: Ballantine, l953. Also in The John Wyndham Omnibus. London: Michael Joseph, l958.
Tentacled monsters from space land in the ocean deeps and begin to sink ships and melt the polar ice. The first part of the novel seems like a satire on cold-war fears as the beasts are attacked with atomic bombs before any attempt has been made to determine whether or not they are hostile; but they prove villainous enough, nearly annihilating the human race, and must be destroyed by a new ultrasonic beam weapon.

___. Web. London: Michael Joseph, l979.
Would-be utopians battle mutated spiders which are the result of atomic bomb testing on a remote South Pacific island. Wyndham avoids the usual gigantism and makes his spiders deadly through their cooperation. They are finally destroyed by an H-bomb.

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