Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Storytime: War in the Atomic Age?

Hello, kiddies! On those days when I can't quite cope with watching the lamestream media, I intend to hunker down and share some exerpts from my personal collection of old, dusty, fusty tomes which occasionally bear some resemblance to modern reality. In my compulsion to buy old books at the local auction, I've come across another gem, this time from 1946. It's called "WAR IN THE ATOMIC AGE?", by Captain Walter Karig, U.S.N.R., published by Wm. H. Wise & Co., Inc., New York, having only 62 pages of actual text and illustrations, and a handful of advertisements at the back.

originally uploaded by leucanthemum b.

I will not post the entirety of this work of fiction, but present the opening few pages of the story. Perhaps somebody else might then wish to look for further copies of this little book and, who knows? it might have a second life. Here it goes:

Let's pretend ....

Let's pretend, while we still can!

We are celebrating 100 years of peace – in the year 2076! In Kansas City the handful of veterans of the last war, gathered from all over the world, are gathered in unique convention. And here, You and I, who have no more idea of what war is like than a codfish knows about Death Valley, are sitting down to read about the event whose anniversary is being observed – the last war.

By that token, what follows is frankly fiction. In fact, we have not yet had a hundred weeks of peace, we are technically still in a state of war, and many among us are gloomily predicting the inevitability of a third global conflict. What such a war might be like in, say, 1976, is here described. You may say that compared to Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon or Superman, this is fairly tame fighting, and so it is with this exception – it could really happen to you.
* * * * *

At Georgetown University the seismograph's stylus swung abruptly almost to the paper's edge and then dropped back to its normal channel to continue the monotonous record of the flexibility of the earth's crust.

Young Father O'Shea stared at the machine. Never had it recorded an earthquake thus. He made quick calculations, and then hurried out of the sound-proof chamber to check with his scientific colleagues in New York and California. As he entered his office a student-assistant met him at the door.

"New York on the intercom," the youth said.

Father O'Shea nodded and addressed himself to the metal-gauze orifice of the radiovox. He pronounced his name. The voice that answered was strangely shrill.

"Hello, O'Shea? This is Selig. D-d-did you – ?"

"Yes, I never saw anything like it," the clergyman scientist replied. "I compute it at about the geographical center of the country. Check?"

The radiovox was mute. O'Shea waited a few seconds.

"Hello, Selig? Hello, New York?" He spoke impatiently. From the box on his desk came a confused murmur of distant voices, and then it spoke again, with a tube-shattering bellow:

"O'Shea, turn on your radio, for God's sake! Kansas City – the Galaxy ––"

The intercom went dead.

More than a little disturbed by the incoherence of his usually phlegmatic friend Dr. Selig, Father O'Shea flipped another switch on the desk panel and turned his face to the built-in television screen. It glowed immediately, a luminescent oblong blank of image, as a harsh voice, strangely accented, filled the office.

"–Orleans and San Francisco. Stand by. This message will repeat in thirty seconds."

The television screen showed a green blur which resolved itself into the so-called "verdant banner" of the Galaxy, that unnatural alliance of nations that had made itself heir to the evil philosophy of the Axis Powers of thiryt-five years before. The green flag, emblazoned with a crimson fist clutching the six lightning-bolts of gold symbolizing the six member-nations of the Galaxy, fluttered on the screen and faded as the voice spoke again:

"This is the headquarters of the Galaxy of nations. Kansas City has been destroyed

"We regret the necessity, for we do not make war on the people of the United States. Our mission is to liberate them from the tyranny of obsolete democracy and to admit them into the modern age of Galaxy."

To be continued.

Previous, related posts:What the hell are you lookin' at?,The Duty and Destiny of Every American, and Civilian Morale in Wartime

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