Free Study Guide: Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank - Free BookNotes|
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ALAS, BABYLON: FREE PRINTABLE STUDY GUIDE
At the admiral’s house, they listen to U.S. Navy pilots talking with their home base. They have found an enemy sub east of Norfolk and are coordinating an attack on it. Afterward, Helen asks Sam if he thinks Omaha survived. Not remembering that Mark’s was stationed in Omaha, he says it is unlikely. Too late, he remembers that Mark was stationed at SAC headquarters. He tells Helen that he is in the same situation of unknowing - his son was with the Sixth Fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean and it is unlikely that he survived, although Sam has no way of knowing one way or the other.
As they are talking, the lights and the radio go out as the room is
lit up as if it were midday. Orlando, the source of electricity for Fort
Repose, has been hit - “...in that moment civilization in Fort Repose
retreated a hundred years.”
Josephine Vanbruuker-Brown had been Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare - a single cabinet position now divided between the Secretary of Education and the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
From her statement, it is clear that the U.S. leadership was caught by surprise. The Soviets have not used all their military resources yet and the U.S. can expect more attacks. Martial law is declared in the 49 states, indicating when the novel was written - after Alaska was admitted as a state, but before Hawaii.
One of the acting president’s decrees is to enact a moratorium on all payments due. This is an emergency measure to help keep afloat what is left of the economy.
Helen hopes that Omaha survived. In reality, SAC headquarters at Offutt Field outside Omaha was number two or three on the Soviet’s target list. Target number one was Washington; numbers two and three were SAC headquarters and NORAD, although the order varied. Other major U.S. targets in the 1950s included New York City (the center of national communications), major ports, and, of course, military bases.
During dinner, Dr. Gunn makes a prediction about Randy. He says, “...some people melt in the heat of crisis... Others meet the challenge and harden. I think you are going to harden.” Randy is not sure about that, but we already see the beginnings of a change in his personality and nature.
Sam Hazzard notes that he has heard a radio station calling itself Radio Moscow,
although Moscow no longer exists. He says that he has been hearing statements
from Soviet leaders, so they appear to have survived. Unlike the American
leaders, the Soviet leaders would have known the timing of the attacks
and would have taken shelter far away from any important targets. He also
notes that he should be hearing radio broadcasts from the major western
European nations but he has not heard any. Those nations, including Great
Britain, France, West Germany, etc., are probably gone.
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