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Literature / War Day

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Warday is a novel by Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka. It was first published in 1984 and deals with slightly fictionalized versions of the authors traveling across the United States after a nuclear war to conduct a series of studies and research. Written in the first person, the book is meant to give the impression of what a postwar future would be like.

Notable for its abundance of Author Tracts and containing numerous documents from the world it depicts. The book was supposed to be the start of a series, but subsequent projects were abandoned so one of the two authors could write books about his personal encounters with aliens.


This book provides examples of :

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The UK and Japan in this story's 1993 are examples of this. The story's 1993 UK has TV sets you can talk to purchase things, and a "Concorde II" airplane that is like its predecessor but more refined.
  • After the End: In the US (and the Soviet Union) people are trying to survive in the aftermath of a "limited" nuclear war.
  • Alternate History: Even though the book was set nine years in the future of when it was published time has marched on.
  • Apocalypse How: Class0 Regional/Societal Disruption
  • Apocalypse Wow: Whitley Streiber's Author Avatar relates his first hand experience of the war in New York at the beginning of the story.
  • Crapsack World: About a third of the US (and possibly more of Soviet) people were killed in the war and the aftermath, if you are not from California you are an illegal alien, one of the main characters is triaged (barred from medical treatment) due to the level of radiation he has received, etc.
    • In addition, children with major birth defects from radiation are routinely subject euthanasia.
  • Deus Angst Machina: Due to the "limited" aspect of the war, only three US cities are directly nuked: Washington DC, New York, and San Antonio, TX (as James Kunetka is from San Antonio). However, the EMP detonations cause huge damage to infrastructure all over the place.
    • Questions about the probability of San Antonio being nuked are hand-waved by implying that the Soviets nuked it because of the air force base there.
  • Fallen States of America: California has closed its borders, the Southwest has become Aztlan and much of the Eastern US is uninhabitable.
    • Other parts of the US are implied to be slowly breaking away - Texas has its own currency (backed by oil), and Washington and Oregon have a joint legislature.
  • Japan Takes Over the World: Played straight, unsurprisingly since it is a 1980s book. Also some UK Takes over the World thrown in too for good measure. The UK in this story's 1993 (5 years after the war) is rich and high-tech; essentially what the U.S. could have been had the nuclear war of 1988 not happened.
  • Just in Time: Years after the war, the UK's navy patrols the seas, destroying rogue submarines. When it detects a Typhoon-class SSBN, it attacks it and damages it, causing it to surface and surrender. They discover that it was just moments away from launching a nuclear strike on North America, one that would've been worse than the 1988 one.
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  • Mockumentary
  • Next Sunday A.D.: Written in 1984, set in 1988 and 1993. Some aspects stray into 20 Minutes into the Future territory, particularly in regards to military hardware. The Soviets have satellites in orbit disguised as communications satellites; they're actually military ones and are armed with nuclear missiles (all the while the U.S. is completely unaware of their existence). On the other side, the U.S. has ground-based missiles that can shoot down satellites in orbit, and was in the process of deploying "Spiderweb", a military satellite system that can shoot down nuclear missiles with lasers fired from outer space.
  • The Apocalypse Brings Out the Best in People: Lampshaded in-universe. One character remarks that before the war he felt a nuclear holocaust would be a good thing as it would fix the things he disliked about society. 5 years after his wishes came true, he mentions that he was foolish for believing so. Played straight with other characters. One character mentions that prejudice and bigotry after the nuclear holocaust is better than it was before it as everybody was in the same boat more or less, trying to survive.
  • Unexpected Successor: The Under Secretary of the Treasury ends up being the self-described caretaker President.
  • World War III: The Soviets start it. Inverted in that actually the Soviets respond to the US starting to deploy Spiderweb, a space based ABM system.
  • You Are Too Late: The Soviets prepare to hit the U.S. with a nuke from outer space using a military satellite disguised as a communications satellite. As soon as the U.S. finds out the satellite's true purpose, they destroy it. However, it is too late, as the satellite fired its weapon just moments before it got destroyed. The Soviet nuke detonates miles above North America, causing an EMP effect that wipes out the electrical grids of much of the U.S. and Canada.


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