Monday, August 30, 2010

Nuclear Holocausts

Nuclear Holocausts: Atomic War in Fiction by Paul Brians

"This new edition of my comprehensive survey of fictional depictions in English of nuclear war and its aftermath has been revised and expanded. In particular, the bibliography has been expanded with over 450 additional entries. The chapters of historical and critical discussion are essentially unchanged."

This is a very interesting non-fiction book, especially if you liked I. F. Clarke's Voices Prophesying War (1966). Along with a penetrating study of what is often described with the tellingly religious phrase as "post-apocalypse" fiction, Professor Brians delivers on his promise to provide a detailed bibliography. There are only a couple of oversights.

Of all the numerous survivalist series that proliferated in the 1980's, by far the most popular and enduring has been the Deathlands series written under the pseudonym James Axler. They're so popular the series continues to this day. Yet despite this they are given only a cursory treatment.

The only real oversight I noticed is the C.A.D.S. series written under the pseudonym John Sievert. While they're "yet another blood-and-thunder anti-Red combat novel from Zebra," the premise is slightly more imaginative than most in that the bloodthirsty patriots are tearing around in power armor. Imagine a cross between Red Dawn (1984) and Starship Troopers (1962) and you get the idea.

My favorite series of this type was the Traveler books by "D. B. Drumm" the majority of which were written by John Shirley. Like Barry N. Malzberg's Lone Wolf books, which depicted an Executioner/Punisher type character, they subtly subvert the genre in an entertaining way.

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