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Author Topic: Just reread "Alas, Babylon"  (Read 1627 times)


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Just reread "Alas, Babylon"
« on: September 15, 2010, 01:51:23 am »

I was in 3rd grade, about 8 years old, during the Cuban missile crisis. A bit young to understand what was really going on in the world but our new elementary school had tunnels and bomb shelters. They had stopped those stupid duck and cover drills by this time, but we still knew about "the Russian bombs".

Not too many years later, I started reading novels of nuclear holocaust like Philip Wylie's "Tomorrow" and Pat Frank's "Alas, Babylon". They scared the crap out of me as I figured it was only a matter of time til somebody started "the Big One".  Thank the Creator they did not, but that vision has shaped my life in ways even I may not truly understand.

So, when I found a copy of "Alas, Babylon" (written in 1959) at the used bookstore last week, I picked it up. I was interested to see how it was 40-45 years later.

I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it's dated in many ways. They obviously didn't know much about EMP in 1959 as one character is still getting some military broadcasts on his Ham radio. And there are some racial issues we today would find somewhat offensive--it takes place in central Florida--but for the most part, it's still a damn good book.

My literary critic says it takes too long for the bombs to fall and the plot to get going. But once it does, then things start to gel. Our kind of neer-do-well hero comes into his own and there is actually lots of good survival type information. The best part is how this isolated small town deals with the catastrophe--not just how the one family does. It's more about the community survival than just the hero's. Which I found heartening, even though it's not without problems.

Younger readers, who didn't live under the constant threat of nuclear annihilation, might scoff. Those of us old enough to remember that fear will read and heed.

If you can find a copy at the used bookstore or the library, it's worth a look. It didn't scare me like it did 40 years ago, but it's still a pretty damn good read and has messages we can learn today.

Always keep your clothes and weapons where you can find them in the dark. Robert A. Heinlein


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Re: Just reread "Alas, Babylon"
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2010, 05:33:55 pm »

Agreed. I re-read a well-worn library copy of "Alas, Babylon" earlier this summer, and I remembered the first time I read it, also in the 1960's in my elementary/ junior high formative years. Definitely worth the time, and it goes along well. It is an entertaining and educating book.


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Re: Just reread "Alas, Babylon"
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2012, 09:31:05 am »

Thought I'd bump this for anyone looking to share a copy with someone. I just passed on a second hand copy I had picked up to someone who asked (while glancing around) "Are you - a - you know - prepper?".

I had to laugh and say when the next Ice Storm comes we'll be alright. Then the Tornados came to Southern Illinois, passed us by, and I thought "Hope they're reading the book.".
ďRightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.Ē  Jefferson

"The universe never did make sense; I suspect it was built on government contract." Heinlein

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Re: Just reread "Alas, Babylon"
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2012, 05:10:35 pm »

This was handed to me by my soon-to-be-brother-in-law while I was in high school.  It materially affected my life.

In no particular order, we looked for land with plenty of water supply available (for drinking *and* flushing into our septic system), we made sure we were out of blast radius of the nearest cities, and, something my wife barely understands, I have the minimum equipment for field surgery, in case someone with med training comes along who has lost their stuff.

A really good book, even though dated.  I have to laugh, though, when I think of Randy's 'stash' of instant coffee, compared to the pounds I've got hidden away.    :rolleyes:

Oh, and I came across a school's discard of about ten copies, and have given away more than half of them so far.

Sic semper tyrannis, baby!    - Joel Simon

As much as we may not want to consider it, we must have a mindset that enables us to do instant and devastating violence in defense of self and/or loved ones.   -Dave Champion

It's not unusual to run into folks in the internet that are dense enough to have event horizons.

Remember, remember, the fifth of November . . . .

Don't mistake my silence for weakness - no one plans a murder out loud.
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