Alas, Babylon

Alas, BabylonAlas, Babylon by Pat Frank

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read this book. A dozen, maybe? Each time I get something different from it.

When I first read it at about nine or ten years old, it was frightening (I think I read it about the same time I saw “The Day After” – in fact, my father may have given it to read after I became fascinated with that movie and wanted to know more about survival). A few years later, it was more about the survival – I realized living very close to where the book was set, it could be thought of as a survival manual, heh. A few years later, all I noticed was the sexism, even though I understood it was written at a time when women didn’t have the advancements that we have now (such as they are). Later, all I noticed was the racism; again, truthful for the times and while upsetting to my sensibilities I grokked that it was (a) fiction and (b) representative of the times.

This time when I read it, what I noticed most was the technology and science. No EMPs? Power ran out when it did because of another bomb, but not because of an electromagnetic pulse. The cars all still ran, until they ran out of gas; not stopped because they were all fried. Canned food was thought to be better – no worries about radiation seeping into the metal there! And the bit about how babies would be forced to go on breast milk after formula ran out… that killed me. Formula. :headdesk:

Still… I love this book. It is and probably always will be one of my favorites. It’s got things that some people will froth at the mouth over (the aforementioned sexism and racism, the POV changing willy-nilly from paragraph to paragraph…). But I think I will always say about it to a friend, “Gasp! You haven’t read this book? I don’t think this friendship is going to work out!” And then I’ll go see if I have an extra copy to give them.

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  1. Hmmm, I’d better read that. My books that I’ve gone back to over and over are mainly the Dune series books. (At least until they quit being written by Frank Herbert). Also The Diamond Age and Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson tho they are a lot newer. I think I will be re-reading them when I’m 90. And Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. God I love that women’s writing. I reread at least one of her books every year.
    There now – I’ve just ordered Alas, Babylon. πŸ™‚

  2. You sound like what I say about Heinlein’s “Friday” — so many problems, but love it all the same. I’ll add it to my list to read… I’d like to keep our internets friendship. πŸ™‚

  3. i’m on page 271; plan to finish it today. i’ve noticed how much they all didn’t know about all the abundant food in the countryside ; racisim aside; the black folk of that time; and the country black folk of this time know what foods can be had for free…LOL….

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