Free Study Guide: Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank - Free BookNotes|
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Point of view:
The novel is written from an omniscient, third-person point of view. The narrator of the novel is aware of the actions, words, and thoughts of all the characters.
The novel is set in a small town in central Florida.
The forces of decay and decline that follow a general breakdown of government and authority, and the lack of essential goods and services
The United States is at war with the Soviet Union, but that is only the backdrop for the novel. The real conflict is with the survivors as they try to cope with the loss of essential goods and services, and the general breakdown of authority.
The primary climax of the novel involves the ambush of the highwaymen who attacked Dr. Gunn and who threaten to attack Fort Repose.
(1) survival against the odds, and (2) personal redemption and recovery.
Power placed in weak hands leads to chaos and anarchy.
Tense, but hopeful. The novel ends on a cautiously optimistic note.
BX - base exchange; a store selling groceries, clothing, etc., usually
at reduced prices, located on a military base to make shopping more convenient
for military personnel stationed on the base. Only military personnel
and their families are allowed shop at the BX.
B-47, B-58 - long-range U.S. strategic jet bombers of the period. The
B-47 Strato-jet was the predecessor of the B-52 as the main heavy bomber
of the Air Force. The B-58 “Hustler” was the predecessor of the B-1 as
a supersonic penetration bomber.
C-in-C - commander-in-chief
DDT - a pesticide commonly used in the 1950s and 1960s, but now banned
in the U.S.
DEW Line - Distant Early Warning Line. A line of radar systems in Alaska
and the Canadian Arctic that watched for Soviet missiles coming over the
North Pole (the shortest route to the U.S.). The DEW Line is no longer
in operation, as satellites can monitor all global activity without the
need for ground radar stations.
Fallout - radioactive dust and ash that filters back to the ground
after a nuclear attack.
IC, ICBM - Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. These are long-range
missiles capable of crossing oceans and /or polar regions once launched
and striking targets thousands of miles away on other continents. Although
commonplace today, they were new technology and just being perfected when
the novel was written.
IR - Intermediate-range missiles. IR's are most often launched from
Minorcans - descendants of Spanish fishermen and explorers in Florida.
Their ancestors came from Minorca, one of the Balearic Islands in the
western Mediterranean belonging to Spain.
NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization. A military alliance of the
United States, Canada, and several nations of western Europe. Its function
was to prevent a military attack by the Soviet Union and its allies (the
Warsaw Pact) and, should an attack occur, to defend the member nations
against the agression.
O Club - Officer’s club
RAF - Royal Air Force; the British air force
Roentgen - a unit of measure of radiation
SAC - Strategic Air Command. SAC is a division of the U.S. Air
Force created during "The Cold War" charged with maintaining
and operating nuclear bombers and missiles. SAC headquarters was, and
still is, located at Offutt Field outside Omaha, Nebraska, though their
mission has changed greatly since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Shortwave Radio - radio transmissions using radio waves with
a lower frequency than AM or FM radio. Shortwave radio travels much farther
than standard AM or FM radio, and was commonly used to transmit radio
programs to other countries. Some shortwave radio stations still on the
air include Voice of America, Voice of Russia, the BBC, and Radio Canada.
Skunks - unidentified and presumably enemy aircraft, surface ships,
Strontium 90, Carbon 14 - radioactive isotopes of strontium and carbon.
Both would be common in radioactive fallout. Of the two, strontium 90
was by far the most dangerous as it has a longer half-life and is more
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