Alas, Babylon

Pat Frank
Alas, Babylon Cover

Alas, Babylon


This book is set in a late 1950s where Russia continued to launch Sputniks, improving on the design each time. The most recent launches are even said to be spy satellites. The first few chapters of the book set up this situation and introduce us to the characters.

This is the cold war, the world could end at anytime mentality that I remember as a kid. If there’s any good news, it is that this book is set in a time before we truly had mutually assured destruction, before missiles were quite as good as they later became.

After those first few chapters, the war kicks off and the author develops up a pretty realistic situation, including flash blindness and radioactivity gathering in milk and metals. The author’s background in the office of war information is telling here, and as the situation changes, it remains quite realistic.

After the attack, the small town of Fort Repose Florida is one of the few places that wasn’t bombed, and the winds have kept most of the fallout clear. Cut off from the rest of the country, the novel then tells the story of survival in a post-apocalyptic situation. Unlike other novels in this vein, society mostly keeps going, with looters and outlaws kept to the fringes.

I really enjoyed this book, especially the thought provoking ending. I finished it shortly after landing in Florida for the first time myself, and handed it to a friend who resides there for his edification. Recommended!