Nuclear Holocausts: Atomic War in Fiction
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: http://drmatthewashton.com/2012/07/17/political-predictions-they-got-wrong-no32-a-short-history-of-the-future-by-w-warren-wagar/. 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
Warren, George. Dominant Species. Norfolk, Va.: Starblaze, 1979. New York: Ace, 1979.
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
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
"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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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
___. [Pelbar Cycle #6] The Song of the Axe. New York: Ballantine, 1984.
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
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
___. 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,
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 . . . ."
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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:
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.
"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.
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
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,
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:
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]
[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.:
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.
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
___. Web. London: Michael Joseph, l979.
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.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P
R S T U V W Y Z
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