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REVIEW: Warday

anon — April 1984

Whitley Streiber and James Kunetka. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 374 pages. $19.95. Publication DATE:April 16, 1984.

Reviewed by Roy McFarlane

Warday reads like a lament for a nation destroyed by nuclear conflict. This soon-to-be-released novel surpasses ABC-TV’s The Day After in effect, and ranks with Jonathan Schell’s The Fate of the Earth. .

Whitley Streiber _ and James Kunetka _(City of Fire: Los Alamos and the Atomic Age; Oppenheimer: The Years of Risk) combine their talents to create a vision of America as it would be Jive years following Warday.

Warday is October 28, J 988. As a result of political and strategic miscalculation. the USA and the USSR engage in a nuclear exchange. After half an hour, millions are killed outright, vast areas of land are left uninhabitable, and the chain of command of both superpowers is destroyed. The war is over, and the book begins.

Unique in a novel depicting the future, the authors set no distance between themselves and their subject. The central characters are the authors themselves: Streiber and Kunetka. Thus their vision of the future is extremely personal.

On Warday, Streiber, in New York City, receives a heavy dose of radiation. Kunetka is in Houston, Texas. His family is lost to the nuclear detonations over San Antonio.

In 1993, Streiber and Kunetka set out on a journey across the country to chronicle the aftermath of the 1988 nuclear war. The mixture of fact and fiction blends into a contemporary portrait of America as it might be. (In California, Meryl Streep produces and acts in the play Chained in defiance of the police.)

Warday is a novel written for an American audience; it is a warning to the American people. It warns of the effects of nuclear war: death by fire, death by cancer; new diseases and plagues, economic collapse, the end of the USA.

Readers outside of the U.S. should remember, though; that Warday is the authors’ speculation. What befalls San Antonio could befall Thunder Bay, Kansas City could be Saskatoon. New York could be London, England.

Warday is not a novel about a full-scale nuclear war. The war is a limited one. More than anything else, Warday is a sad song about where the human race is today, and where we may be tomorrow.

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