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Nukes

June 23, 2015

The story I’ll be posting tomorrow is a charming little tale about growing up in the era of the Red Scare, when we were endlessly assaulted with the fear both of communists lurking under the bed and of nuclear bombs falling on our heads.

For a timid kid already afraid of tornadoes, all this talk of fifth columnists at home and of godless Russians across the sea plotting our demise, it was an age of relentless anxiety. A sense of unease permeated the very air I breathed. Most of the time it was just background noise, easy to ignore in the moment, but then a news story would break about a new satellite launched, a new bomb tested, another aggressive move by the Soviet bloc, and the fear would move to the forefront.

The worst were the civil defense drills at school, accompanied by the pamphlets and films about what do do if a nuclear war broke out. I’m pretty sure that I knew even then that the reassuring brochures and the helpful films were pure silliness, and that if the real thing actually happened, we were all toast.

It’s reassuring now to discover that I wasn’t alone in my worry. I just finished reading “Alas, Babylon,” Pat Frank’s classic 1959 dystopian science fiction novel about the aftermath of a Russian nuclear attack. It was one of several books on a similar theme from that era, of which Nevil Shute’s “On the Beach” is probably the best known.

My little contribution to the genre appears tomorrow.