Saturday, 9 November 2013

Thermonuclear Warfare

I found passages in Poul Anderson's Thermonuclear Warfare (Derby, Connecticut, 1963) that were relevant to four of his fictional works:

Twilight World
"Kings Who Die"
The Psychotechnic History
Planet Of No Return

This passage:

"Many will object that the requirements of an aggressive policy will lead to national regimentation, until we are hardly distinguishable from our opponents." (p. 153)

- is relevant to James Blish's Cities In Flight Tetralogy. In Volume I, set in the early twenty first century, American anti-Communism becomes as repressive as Russian anti-Fascism so that the two systems come to be indistinguishable and are bloodlessly united under a single Premier! - although this Spenglerian Fall of the West is preceded by the escape of a few Westerners from the Solar System in FTL spaceships. Centuries later, the Terrestrial Bureaucratic State falls when anti-gravity is rediscovered and entire cities are able to escape, seeking work among the Colonials.

Thus, this is a future in which thermonuclear war is prevented. The Russians conquer by stealth. Another Blish work, A Case Of Conscience, Volume III of the After Such Knowledge Trilogy, presents a different outcome of the Cold War. The arms race leads to a Shelter Race until the entire population lives permanently in subterranean cities where there are Corridor Riots. Anderson discusses shelters in Thermonuclear Warfare but does not suggest permanent life underground.

Anderson hoped that the Soviet Union would be defeated by persistent limited wars whereas instead its inefficient command economy was bankrupted by its self-imposed arms race.