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Initial post: Apr 12, 2012 4:28:07 PM PDT
chrijato says:
I'm looking for other viewpoints on something I want to write eventually, in the Fallout/Jericho vein. So post-nuclear apocalypse fiction. Just brainstorming at this point.

1. What technology would be discarded/retained?

2. How would the major religions (Islam, Christianity, Judaism, etc.) react? Conversely, if these religions ceased, what would spring up in their place?

3. What kind of mutations might occur? Get creative!

4. What events would lead up to the nuclear exchange?

Anything else that might change?

Any help appreciated.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 12, 2012 5:45:23 PM PDT
Emerald says:
I loved Jericho!

The episodes were very intimate: just ordinary people put in a desperate situation. The townsfolk there in Kansas weren't leaders of the free world. For a long time they never knew what caused the war, or who the enemy was. They had no idea what happened to religions. Mutations wasn't part of the short-term landscape. They were just trying to survive.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 12, 2012 6:53:30 PM PDT
As a resident of Kansas, I (and many others) thought Jericho was a hoot. There were call-in talk shows about how lame-brained the research into not only THE REAL EFFECTS of multiple ground bursts on US soil would be, but namely how crazy the writers were in their depiction of KANSAS and COLORADO!

The biggest inaccuracy being that You CAN'T see the Rocky Mountains from Western Kansas! You can't even see them from much of Eastern Colorado! Nor could you see a mushroom cloud rising from Denver. And the hilly terrain of Jericho and New Bern better fits a slim Eastern region of the state that's closer to targeted areas like Kansas City and Topeka.

For the rest of the country, the series was probably more thrilling. But when you see such jaw-dropping lazy research go into the basic premise of the plot, it comes off as a bit hokey to some of us who live in the regions depicted.

For a terrifying and depressingly realistic portrait of post nuclear America, I would direct your attention to The Day After which was filmed on location in Lawrence, KS and Kansas City, MO back in the 80's. Besides the final episode of MASH, it was the second or third most-watched TV movie of all time.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 12, 2012 8:07:38 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 13, 2012 3:15:53 PM PDT
Emerald says:
LOL, James!

I'm pretty familiar with the geographical errors in Jericho. But I still adored the human drama. I've heard that's the strength of The Day After, too.

I think post-nuclear fiction can get so focused on correct science or military machinations that it misses the reason readers find such stories appealing. It's characters readers can empathize with. Readers don't generally relate in the same way to accurate bomb engineering or inventive political history.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 12, 2012 9:01:11 PM PDT
You're right, Emerald. If you look at it long term, I guess the Phoenix factor makes post-nuclear fiction appealing because generally, what arises from the ashes is usually bigger and better than what came before--the STAR TREK universe being probably the shiniest example. Perhaps next, though shinier for simians only, is THE PLANET OF THE APES saga. ; )

But having grown up in the Cold War era; having lived in targeted cities; and having done duck-and-cover/relocation drills as soon as kindergarten, the IMMEDIATE effects of thermonuclear warfare are very real and still frightening.

So, as long as I can see the world 100 or more years after the dust has settled--if it could--the subject doesn't bother me. A nuclear war tends to be a somewhat dispassionate historical event that is superseded by the pressing events of the present.

But a day or year after the event tends to dampen my creativity and starts bringing out graphic realities.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 12, 2012 10:08:18 PM PDT
Getting back to the original thread request, my "ideas" are more based in REALITY than the usual Hollywood scenarios. And, as a disclaimer, they are theoretically based on the premise of this thread's request for speculative ideas for a fictional story. ; )

Here goes!

1. Tech Discards: Though there will be pockets of high tech left, they will be highly protected and reduced in who uses them, when, and for how long. Anything relying upon massive energy sources for power will be, even if available, impractical. No more cellular communications; most cars; TV and most radios; computers; or mass transportation. The EMP effects of even a limited nuke war will affect the power grids to the point of still reducing America to late 19th century standards, at best.

Retained Tech: For most survivors. basic 19th century tech will become necessary. Things like horseback (where available) or horse-drawn carriages/wagons; bicycles; hang gliders, paddle boats; rowboats.

For armaments, modern ceramic and polymer/plastic weaponry may not be ideal in the harsh conditions that lack the cleaning equipment and time to disassemble and clean (as the springs and smaller parts for such weapons require more care than a basic revolver, for example). So ultimately, revolvers that use interchangeable calibers of bullets (.38 and .357); hunting rifles; bows and arrows; slings and stones, and spears will be more valued than a higher maintenance, caliber specific
Glock.

Canning will have to replace mass refrigeration; boiling, to replace and suffice for pasteurization.

2. The aforementioned religions would survive in some sense, but would become much smaller factions and less tolerant in practice. For example, there might be a greater shift back to the less forgiving concepts of THE OLD TESTAMENT than an enlightened adherence to the "turn the other cheek" philosophy of THE NEW TESTAMENT for some Christians (as they would be scraping for what's barely left like their neighbors). Others may see it as an opportunity to spread The Word--using the imagery of Revelation as an I-told-you-so tool of recruitment perhaps? Of course, most of the flock would seek more than spiritual food or gloating to satisfy their bloated bellies.

Anarchy would be the widespread form of 'government'. A step up from that would be organized criminal groups vs. citizen militias or vigilantes for control of fertile farmland or unaffected towns where citizens are better off. But even in the isolated, relatively unaffected pockets of protection, a more socialistic, benevolent dictatorship would emerge to keep some semblance of civilization in tact.

3. Depending on whether the war was mostly fought with air or ground bursts, you could see few to catastrophic mutations. Airbursts would put fewer radioactive isotopes into the air, but the devastation from widespread firestorms would wipeout more cities. The remaining towns or hamlets might see an increase in common cancers over time. But like the airbursts over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, if there were enough people left after a nuclear war, some US airbursts targets would be habitable after some years.

Ground bursts are more localized, but put more radiation into the air and for longer periods of time. Though Chernobyl wasn't a nuclear weapon blast per se, the effect Is similar in that the ground zero area is still lethal. As are portions of the Pacific where The US and France conducted the famous nuke tests of the 1950's and 60's. And the mutations are hideous (checkout something called "the Chernobyl necklace" for just one mutation).

4. Most likely, a surprise terror attack similar to 911 but on a national scale would lead to the affected nation lashing out blindly at who they thought was responsible. Maybe survivors of the nation attacked then hit a US ally or enemy and things get out if control.

A more Cold War-like strategy would be one where the enemy of the attacked nation would see the multiple terrorist hit as a weak point to attack the crippled power. Thus perhaps causing a limited (at first) pre-emptive strike from the attacked, crippled nation to show it is still viable. Of course, that is met by a counterstrike that would virtually destroy the crippled nation--hence an effective nuclear war.

The idea of a limited attack (like JERICHO) could have as a chief creative idea for a speculative sci-fi story US refugees invading relatively untouched Canada or Mexico; or, radical Canadians or Mexicans invading the decimated US. Those are two seemingly far-fetched post apocalyptic ideas that don't get much play, but are more a reality. And fresher than the tired scenarios of fighting off New World Order troops or BLACKWATER mercenaries.

How about a post apocalyptic story ripped from modern headlines? A drug gang led by a nationalist (bent on retaking once Mexican owned Texas) clashes with the post-apocalyptic, patriotic American inhabitants of a small border town?

Or maybe a story about a surviving American family from a destroyed northern city with an ailing child that tries to enter Canada illegally. But as refugees, are shunned by a resources-strapped Canada.

Or maybe a post apocalyptic story told from the Mexican government side: a look at them building a wall or using predator drones to handle reverse illegal immigration of millions of American refugees from an EMP strike that knocks out the US power grid.

Changes after a nuke war:

Whether a limited or full exchange of nukes ever occurs, the fast and relatively free usage of modern industry and technology would be destroyed for most of our lives.

Modern arts and entertainment would cease to exist, or be greatly reduced in importance. The population would drop to 75% due to immediate blast casualties; and then below half, from fallout and natural diseases and disasters. A near constant emergency mode/mentality would prevail over every action. Society would become localized--to within 50 miles for most food and energy-strapped survivors. The big and mid sized cities, looted and abandoned.

The first stirrings of cohesive, nationalizing governance would come the military or from those with [appropriated] mass weaponry. They would marshal popular support under the guise of protecting the people-- guarding scarce resources from foreign and domestic threats, though reducing personal freedoms. So, a benevolent dictatorial/socialistic system would replace a big, republican free market at the very best; survival-of-the fittest anarchy would lord over most survivors not in fertile areas.

There would be an overnight shift back to a rural, agrarian style of life, with farmers, carpenters, and skilled laborers becoming the most highly-paid (more likely, fed); doctors and mechanics, up there, too. But people like lawyers, accountants, actors, ball players, etc. would be seen as immediately useless. The welfare state would shatter, as everyone would likely be required to work in some capacity, or starve.

It would be, in a limited JERICHO-style war, a return to the early American frontier mentality and Wild West lifestyle, with small, rural towns and villages surviving on lynch mob law and fighting range wars against squatters and looters.

Or, in an all-out ballistic blitz, a total collapse into the Dark Ages would ensue, with rampant natural diseases and those induced by massive fallout eventually exterminating almost all complex life on the planet.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 13, 2012 3:11:49 PM PDT
chrijato says:
James:

Thanks for the insights! The reverse immigration is something I hadn't really thought of before, but the more I think about it the more it makes sense.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 14, 2012 5:22:39 PM PDT
chrijato says:
Even though I've never been anywhere near Colorado or Kansas, I figured that was an error. After all, I live next to the Ohio river in Cincinnati and can't see much further than Newport on the other side.

Apart from that, I loved Jericho. If only it had lasted longer than two seasons :(

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 14, 2012 10:27:10 PM PDT
If the writers did more research and presented a more authentic show (think THE WEST WING) JERICHO probably could have stretched to 4 or seasons. Beyond that, I couldn't see much else becoming of the premise.

A third season would pretty much establish the conspirators' motives and set the stage for the civil war between the warring factions of the divided US. And maybe a fourth season would tie everything up with a new US; and, obviously, a George Washington-like Jake taking the Oath of Office. ; )

But from the start, JERICHO copied the style of LOST: where it presented too many questions and teases and not enough solid clues and answers on a weekly basis.

With today's short attention span audience, on TV anyway, you have to pretty much get to the point. The producers realized that mistake late and ditched the Chinese/foreign attacker subplot for the radical fed conspiracy instead. A move, by the way, which played on the popular 911 conspiracy theories of the day, and may have also doomed the show (in the sense that viewers may have thought it too cynical and unpatriotic to think that Americans could intentionally inflict such wholesale devastation upon themselves).

To make it worse, the silly soap opera subplots of many episodes began to take center stage. Characters worrying about their marriages and saving the family farm amidst such a national catastrophe was again damaging to the greater credibility JERICHO was trying to achieve.

So, I'm glad JERICHO's makeshift attempts at SOLID post apocalyptic storytelling are over. The concept will undoubtedly be tried again. Next time, whatever network does it needs better writers with a consistent focus and commitment to credibility and detail.

BTW:
If you're still looking for some GOOD ideas for speculative post apocalyptic sci-fi, here are some of the better, classic nuke/EMP disaster novels to check out.

The Outage Series: WHEN DARKNESS FALLS & WHEN THE LEVEE BREAKS (Mathieu Gallant, www.worldcastlepublishing.com)--Very imaginative, and one I reviewed for Amazon--when it was sold on Amazon.

Z for Zachariah

One Second After

Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse

On the Beach (Vintage International)

Alas, Babylon

Damnation Alley

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 15, 2012 7:56:18 AM PDT
Emerald says:
<<To make it worse, the silly soap opera subplots of many episodes began to take center stage. Characters worrying about their marriages and saving the family farm amidst such a national catastrophe was again damaging to the greater credibility JERICHO was trying to achieve.>>

Frankly, those "silly" domestic concerns was the only part of Jericho that was interesting. The Lord of the Flies aspect was also both realistic and diverting. Humanity is humanity--irrespective of who pulled the strings to create the disaster.

But I agree with you about Blackwater. I had a hard time believing a group like that could stay cohesive after a nuclear blast. Even mercenaries have families, friends. Extreme loyalty to a group after a crises is illogical. But I guess they needed a bad guy amongst all the mystery.

You suggested that reverse immigration was a good plot element. Jericho had that. If you recall, there was a wide, trash-strewn path down Kansas, generated by folks heading toward Mexico.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 15, 2012 9:07:36 AM PDT
I remember the reverse immigration opening to a late first season episode, Emerald. But again, the producers introduced a snippet/tease, and went nowhere with it. Like the Chinese news report and food airdrop--introduced and forgotten. And what of the other "HORSEMEN" sent towards Denver and Wichita? Presumed dead?

There were even two endings for the second season. Not unusual at all to do when making movies. But it again looked like indecision and uncertainty of which general direction to take the show.

As a writer, I could tell how JERICHO's staff was sort of making it up as they went along, as opposed to having a well-thought-out direction for the show. And when they killed off such a strong, unifying lead character as Gerald McRaney's Johnston Green, I had a feeling the show wasn't going to last much longer.

I mean, look at successful series with apocalyptic roots like ENTERPRISE and STAR TREK TNG. Sure they had an already established following to help boost ratings and justify there continuation. But the writing was usually top notch. There just weren't the constant, gimmicky week-to-week cliffhangers that went nowhere. Most of the episodes were self-contained or explained shortly thereafter. Whereas JERICHO seemed to lack the confidence to say 'this is what happened', and then move on.

I don't know if you remember the TV miniseries format that's sadly been ditched, Emerald. NORTH/SOUTH, ROOTS, etc. were among the most popular. There was a kind of forgotten ABC one called AMERIKA (back in 1984-85). I recall Sam Neill, Kris Kristofferson, Robert Urich, and a who's-who cast of then Movie B-list and top TV talent starring in a post-apocalyptic story about the US surrendering to the USSR after an EMP attack. It only took one week (2 hours a night) for the producers to present the story of Soviet occupation of the US; explore the various human and political subplots; and finish it. JERICHO would have been ideal in that limited format. Or even as a feature film with a sequel, JERICHO might have worked better.

I seem to remember SyFy either re-running JERICHO or it and the CW Network being approached to revive the series. The revivals failed; so that was another hint to me that there wasn't much more to work with (as far as extending the series).

As I said, Emerald, I think someone else will try the basic JERICHO idea-- probably as a movie because the cult fan base COULD have a STAR TREK TOS effect on future TV reincarnations. The actors and actresses did the best they could with the level of writing. But as originally presented, it was too shabby to work as a viable seasonal vehicle.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 17, 2012 2:50:50 PM PDT
chrijato says:
I would see that movie the day it came out.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 17, 2012 2:51:33 PM PDT
chrijato says:
Thank you.

I'll have to get those books when I get the money!
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