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Alas, Babylon (1959)

by Pat Frank

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,8361432,191 (3.99)1 / 229
Fiction. Science Fiction. "Alas, Babylon." Those fateful words heralded the end. When a nuclear holocaust ravages the United States, a thousand years of civilization are stripped away overnight, and tens of millions of people are killed instantly. But for one small town in Florida, miraculously spared, the struggle is just beginning, as men and women of all backgrounds join together to confront the darkness.… (more)
  1. 130
    On the Beach by Nevil Shute (lisanicholas)
    lisanicholas: On the Beach is another novel that picks up just after a worldwide nuclear war in the 1960s -- this time, in Australia, as the survivors await the arrival of the radioactive cloud that will doom them. Bleaker in outlook than Alas, Babylon, Shute's novel focuses on how individuals deal with the almost certainty of their own imminent annhilation.… (more)
  2. 71
    The Road by Cormac McCarthy (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  3. 83
    The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (Ruth72)
  4. 62
    Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven (saltmanz)
  5. 20
    The Postman by David Brin (sturlington)
    sturlington: The Postman was influenced by Alas, Babylon.
  6. 20
    Lights Out by David Crawford (ajwseven)
  7. 20
    Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (benjclark)
  8. 10
    Earth Abides by George R. Stewart (sturlington)
    sturlington: These are two classic early post-apocalyptic novels.
  9. 00
    Arslan by M. J. Engh (infiniteletters)
  10. 00
    Forbidden Area by Pat Frank (BeckyJG)
  11. 11
    The Dog Stars by Peter Heller (benjclark)
  12. 00
    Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon (sturlington)
  13. 00
    Level 7 by Mordecai Roshwald (HenriMoreaux)

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» See also 229 mentions

English (142)  Italian (1)  Polish (1)  All languages (144)
Showing 1-5 of 142 (next | show all)
I picked up a sci-fi novel the other day at a used bookstore. The jacket said it was set after a nuclear war and written by someone who’d rubbed shoulders with a lot of military people. Well, I figured it’d be interesting to see what they imagined life’d be like after a nuclear war. (The pages weren’t blank.)

What can I say, it was slow reading. For example, the author said, “A man who’s been shaken by a bomb knows what it feels like.” So I had to stop and wonder why a woman wouldn’t know. Is he saying women never get shaken by bombs because they’re never in bombed areas? Or they are, but for some reason, they don’t get shaken by them? Or they do, but they nevertheless don’t know what it feels like?

And that was just the preface. Chapter one introduced Florence. Who gossiped. She didn’t design state of the art mp3 players. And she certainly wasn’t looking for the cure to cancer. She gossiped. However, “If your sister was in trouble and wired for money, the secret was safe with Florence. But if your sister bore a legitimate baby, its sex and weight would be known all over town.”

Only if my sister was in trouble? What about me? I realized then that this guy hadn’t even imagined the possibility that women might read his book. And, well, we might. After all, we can read.

And apparently it didn’t occur to him that someone’s sister, a woman, might have money of her own. Or that she might ask another woman – not a man, not her brother – for a loan.

Then of course we have the phrase “in trouble”. Being pregnant, having a life begin to grow inside your body – that’s not being “in trouble”. It’s either amazingly wonderful or incredibly devastating. But it’s not being “in trouble”.

Then there’s that word “legitimate”. First I had to back up and figure out that being in trouble meant, to him, not only being pregnant, but also being unmarried. Which would make the baby ‘illegitimate’. (And that’s why she decides to abort?) Right. As if men alone confer legitimacy to life. My, my, aren’t we a little full of ourselves. (‘Course that might explain why they feel they have the right to take it so often, so capriciously. Coupled with the gross underestimation of its value indicated by the phrase “in trouble” to describe its creation…)

And what precious information would Florence, otherwise, spread far and wide? Whether his sister survived the birth? No, apparently that’s not important. What’s important is the sex and weight of the baby. And presumably it’s important that it be male and that it be big. Okay, and why is that important? Well, the best I could come up with was that the guy has in mind a world in which food and shelter is gained by one-on-one physical combat (not our world), and the combat is such that brute force is an advantage (what, no weapons?), and he’s assumed positive correlations between maleness and size and capacity for said brute force (not a valid assumption).

Okay, onto the next couple sentences… ( )
  ptittle | Apr 21, 2023 |
Extremely thought-provoking, well worth the read. Pat Frank brings sharply to life the post-nuclear world; its fears, horrors, hardships, and losses resonate deeply throughout the book. The novel instills an intimate knowledge of the total destruction of civilization that nuclear war unleashes. It is a depressing book, but also a necessary one. Even those who read it only as a tale of survival will appreciate its power. ( )
1 vote jhellar | Jan 14, 2023 |
OK survival story after nuclear war. ( )
  kslade | Dec 14, 2022 |
After reading quite a few other post-apocalyptic fiction books (and shows, movies) this was pretty easy going without any real shocking moments. Events would be mentioned but rarely described where modern literature demands pages of gore which removed a lot of the anticipation of those events. Overall, a dated but still good novel despite the outmoded social structures. ( )
  gsmaclean | Nov 18, 2022 |
A ridiculous, though well written, middle-class fantasy about surviving nuclear war. It descends into camp somewhere into the last third, when an increasing number of deus ex machinas occur to save the main characters. ( )
  TheEphemeraRemix | Jul 21, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 142 (next | show all)
Doom-minded and Cassandra-speaking, this author, who touched off the play in Mr. Adam in comic vein, and continued his warnings in Forbidden Area (1956) here looks at an all-out bombing that freezes and contaminates most of the United States. What happens to Fort Repose in central Florida- which escapes the worst -- becomes an account of survival when, slowly learning that all props are out from under, some few citizens work out a make-do, or die, program. Heading up a colony that manages to exist is Randolph Bragg, whose Air Force brother gives him the word and the little chance to prepare for the disaster of Russian attack, and, with his brother's wife and children, some neighbors -- white and black -- he finds out many ways to circumvent encroaching death. Death through lack of medicine, electricity, communications, through the threats of epidemic, mob attack, highway marauding, decline of authority and the sudden regression that results from the loss of ""civilization"". Bragg's efforts -- and those of his group -- pull them through when yesterday's history becomes archaic and changed rules must govern changed conditions. When hope comes -- of rescue and victory -- does it matter -- to those who have survived? Contemporary Robinson-Crusoeing.
added by Lemeritus | editKirkus Reviews (Mar 20, 1959)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pat Frankprimary authorall editionscalculated
Patton, WillNarratormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brin, DavidForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I have an acquaintance, a retired manufacturer, a practical man, who has recently become worried about international tensions, international missiles, H-bombs, and such.
In Fort Repose, a river town in Central Florida, it was said that sending a message by Western Union was the same as broadcasting it over the combined networks.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Fiction. Science Fiction. "Alas, Babylon." Those fateful words heralded the end. When a nuclear holocaust ravages the United States, a thousand years of civilization are stripped away overnight, and tens of millions of people are killed instantly. But for one small town in Florida, miraculously spared, the struggle is just beginning, as men and women of all backgrounds join together to confront the darkness.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
The story of a group of people who rely on their own courage and ingenuity to survive in a small Florida town that escaped nuclear bombing.
Haiku summary
The nukes fall on Florida
Soon after so does technology
And the honor of men

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