Alas, Babylon piqued my interest with an annotation that held promise of a “stunning” survival story after a nuclear attack. I am not too proud to admit my interest in such stories, so I quickly procured a copy from my local library.
The title refers to a code agreed upon by two brothers in case of an end-of-the-world type of emergency. It was the 1960’s, after all. Our main character, Randy, isn’t given much time to prepare for the looming apocalypse but he has more time than most. His home (and supplies) quickly become a refuge for family and friends in need, and we watch Randy slowly turn from failed politician with an alcohol problem to community leader and survivalist.
I can’t imagine it’s too realistic for a small area in Florida to be completely unaffected by radiation, but I didn’t really expect post-apocalyptic fiction published in 1959 to be particularly realistic. I also wasn’t expecting much in the way of character development. With those expectations set aside, I can say that I was satisfied with the story. Fascinated, even, with certain aspects of the how the group managed to survive and what their world was like after such a catastrophe.
Readers who liked Life As We Knew It who want more but aren’t quite ready for something quite as heavy as The Road (full disclosure: I was not quite ready for The Road) will probably like Alas, Babylon. There was nothing particularly “stunning” about it, but it was a decent survival story that shows its age in a somewhat charming sort of way (if you will).
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