The mid-1940s to the early 90s was a period of high tension for most of the world, with the Eastern and Western Blocs building up a ridiculous amount of nuclear weapons in case the tension stopped. This left quite an impression. You're probably looking for one of these tropes:
- Space Cold War, for any cold war other than the historical conflict (and often, though not necessarily, set in space)
- Enforced Cold War, where the war is kept cold by a higher power
- Lensman Arms Race, an arms race which escalates into cosmic levels of destruction
- Escalating War, where two individuals emulate the Lensman Arms Race without actual weapons
... Or one of these Useful Notes:
... Or one of these works:
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