A Distopian Science Fiction Novel Which Now Can Be Regarded As Alternate History.

Discussion in 'Alternate History Books and Media' started by Cire, Feb 11, 2019.

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  1. Cire Mr. Wrinkled Shirt

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    Back in 1984, Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka coauthored a book together called "War Day". The book takes place in 1993 following a limited nuclear exchange between the US and USSR five years earlier in October of 1988.

    Without spoiling too much, the two main characters make their way across post nuclear America interviewing random survivors they encounter along the way, while also meeting with top military and government officials trying to hold onto power in their particular part of the country. It is a very vivid story full of detailed information including mock government reports on the economy, the health of the surviving population, and national security concerns. Also, there are no zombie mutants or anything like that, it is pretty much straight science based upon what a limited exchange might have looked like during the 1980s.

    The reason I bring this up is because shortly after this novel came out, I remember reading an article in Omni Magazine (does anyone remember that?) stating that Strieber and Kunetka were planning a follow novel to War Day to be set five years after the original story, presumably around 1998 or so.

    I was wondering if anyone else has read this book, and if they've given any thought to what the two main characters would have encountered five years on, or what North America would be like by that time. (Note - If you didn't live through that period of time, then it might be a very stale read for you.)
     
  2. THeaven I am the Watcher

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    I don't know about novels but a number movies come to mind so I guess the Akria Manga is my vote
     
  3. Grey Wolf Writer, Poet, Publisher, Cat-sitter Gone Fishin'

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    Yeah, some 1970s political thrillers now read like alternate history - eg Rotunda
     
  4. arctic warrior Scandinavian die-hard

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    I remember reading it back in the 1980's when in my twenties but didn't think of the developments beyond the narrative. Living in Denmark wouldn't exactly be a foundation for such and never heard or read of any plans of authours to do so. Or did I? Would though be interesting.
    With the good grace of hindsight such would have played out much different from what happened since the fall of the Soviet Union. Don't think many of us back in the day had an inkling of what would really happen. I at least at the time didn't.
     
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  5. eltf177 Well-Known Member

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    I also read it back when I was reading every nuclear holocaust book I could find. Finally gave that up, too damn depressing...

    I don't recall any mention of a sequel but that was a long time ago...
     
  6. Dave Howery laughs at your pain

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    I remember reading it back in the day. The main thing I remember about it was that there was a separatist movement in the SW, and CA was on the verge of being it's own country...
    they never did do a sequel, but IIRC, they did do another book titled "Nature's End" or something like that, about the Earth basically dying from too many people...
     
  7. Cire Mr. Wrinkled Shirt

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    I imagine that they were probably working on their manuscript for a sequel, when Mikhail Gorbachev announced his Glastnoust reforms, and after that, a story about a nuclear war between the US and USSR seemed a whole lost less plausible, so I imagine that Strieber and Kunetka probably just dropped the idea at that point. Just my guess.

    I've read "Nature's End" which is also a very good book, but for me War Day seemed slightly more believable and plausible, because it was set in a period of time just around the corner, and at that time I happened to be living in one of the cities described in the book, so for me it really hit home. Anyway, I wonder what would have happen to those separatist movements described in War Day?
     
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  8. modelcitizen note2self, no ranting ninjas

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    I read War Day shortly after it came out. I liked it a lot. I think at least one of the main characters was a Vietnam veteran with a particular set of skills.
    It was nothing outrageous, he just managed to break his friend out of the custody of some separatists in the southwest, snuck in and snuck out at night. I remember I was impressed that a "normal" person could do that.

    I'm annoyed that finding a copy apparently takes some effort. It's not in our local library, either.


    Edit: Other impressions remain including their seeing the very last edition of the New York Times newspaper, a special issue with reports that a number of the writers literally gave their lives for. So damn sad.

    They motored around in a Dodge Dart! Nice car.

    They also seemed to be almost casual about the fact that at least one of them was "triage," classified as apparently having a less than terribly long expected life span, radiation etc.

    Edit: Hey, I'm using the spoiler pouch for actual spoilers!
     
  9. Emote Control Plenty of genius, not enough sense.

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    I was surprised several years ago when I learned Whitley Streiber wrote the grounded and realistic novel War Day. Most of the rest of his output is "nonfiction" about UFO contacts and the afterlife, or boilerplate horror novels.
     
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  10. Jack Brisco NWA Powerhouse

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    Also read the book when it came out. Still have a copy.

    My thoughts, five years out... California, Washington, and Oregon continue to prosper. They still heavily limit immigration from the rest of the country. More and more, people in those states consider themselves Americans in name only, if that much. The rest of the USA continues the slow recovery. Agriculture has improved to the point where famines are no longer likely. The USA got the chip-making machines out of the bonded warehouses in Asia and is now slowly preparing to produce their own computers. Britain and Japan are still the top dogs, though, and are likely to be so for a very long time to come. They work to keep the USA far enough developed to be able to support themselves, but not enough to reclaim their old position. New York is now pretty much stripped and salvaged now. The medical situation is improved, and there is talk of ending the triage system. Texas and Aztlan had a few border incidents which turned into skirmishes. Things are now quiet again.
     
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  11. BeyondTheBorg Active Member

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    The Handmaid's Tale comes across as this, since the religious right in the US clearly peaked in the 1980s-90s. The recent Hulu series in particular falls flat because it's not provocative in the current political moment, and generally glorifies the neoliberal status quo before the big bad Christians came to fuck it all up. Now the white, latte-sipping liberal professional woman in red gets to recite "First they came for the communists...". I don't remember if it was this bad in the book, but it's bourgeois #resistance af.

    FWIW, it might work as a shared-universe continuation of Fear, Loathing, and Gumbo on the Campaign Trail '72 into the 1990s, with a few alterations to both. For example, have Rumsfeld's plan to weaponize AIDS go through and backfire on him as the sexually-transmitted bio-weapon escapes from its laboratory, a la The Stand.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
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  12. Emote Control Plenty of genius, not enough sense.

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    The cancerous embarrassment that calls itself the religious right is still working hard to destroy the separation between church and state, to get rid anyone who isn't the 'right kind' of Christian.

    Nor has it "peaked" -- it is still going strong.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
  13. THeaven I am the Watcher

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    How about Steven King's The Running man
     
  14. New Cleo Genesis Ṣrtô nag lavēskiy drûotnec?

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    I've read Warday as well, found it alright. I was once considering doing a short spin-off about the Karelian ASSR slowly being colonized by Finland after 1988, but never got to it.

    Yea, about the only odd thing was the "incredibly smart mutant newborns" thing, though I don't remember if the protagonists actually confirmed it as a thing that existed and not just an overblown rumour.
     
  15. Jack Brisco NWA Powerhouse

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    The authors said one hyper-intelligent child died in a fire. Another one, a little boy, old enough to go to school, whose parents were trying to get him to the UK for education, because there was no educational system devised in the USA that could help him. Quite a stretch, I'd think. They also said rumor was these children were taken by the British and Japanese to be used in think tanks, which the products of are not shared with the USA. Based on this all I could surmise is that a few hyperintelligent children had been born.
     
  16. Unknown Member

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    The Treaty of Coventry was the one thing I found most implausible; IMO, regardless, the Soviets are going to hit Western Europe just like the US...
     
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  17. NoOneFamous Well-Known Member

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    I remember repeatedly checking it out of the Library
     
  18. TwisterAce Looks like a 17-year-old Steve Carell

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    Warday is one of my favorite novels about nuclear war, alongside Alas, Babylon. It's definitely a product of the 1980s, though, but it can easily be read as alternate history now. I would have loved to see a film adaptation.
     
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