20 Post-Apocalyptic Stories That Aren’t Totally Depressing

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Cover of Alas, Babylon (Image via Harper Perennial Modern Classics)

2. Alas, Babylon

In Alas, Babylon, Pat Frank’s 1959 novel, people definitively suffer from the effects of nuclear war. However, despite the considerable trials presented to them, the people of Fort Repose, Florida manage to build a solid, mutually supportive community.

Alas, Babylon was one of the first works of fiction to deal with a nuclear apocalypse. In it, Randy Bragg, a somewhat aimless though good-hearted man, is living in small-town Central Florida. Then, he receives a telegram from his older brother, Mark, an Air Force Colonel and intelligence officer. The message is simple: “Alas, Babylon”. However, its meaning is clear and devastating. For “alas, Babylon” is a predetermined code between the two brothers. It means looming disaster. Mark sends his family to Fort Repose, though he stays behind in Omaha to continue work.

The exact disaster is frighteningly plausible. After a series of military missteps and confusion, the Soviet Union takes the opportunity to launch a nuclear strike against the United States. Randy and his brother’s family soon wake to the earth-shattering thunder of nuclear bombs detonating.

After the initial devastation and chaos, though, Fort Repose begins to pull together. It is a painful process, punctuated by incidents with bandits, radiation sickness, and dwindling resources. However, despite the devastation wrought upon the United States, people in this community survive.