(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

This paperback original employs a theme that would dominate Galouye’s work: distorted perceptions of reality. In this case, without ever stating it overtly and keeping entirely to the point of view of his protagonist, Galouye is able to establish his nonvisual setting within the first two pages and show how Jared and other characters have adapted to it. He tells nearly the entire story without resorting to the visual sense—no small feat—but never loses the reader.

Nuclear war was a concept familiar to science-fiction readers even before the first atomic weapons were used in 1945, to the extent that editor H. L. Gold announced in the January, 1952, issue of Galaxy that he would no longer buy “atomic doom” stories for his magazine. Such stories continued to be written, though, some of the best known being Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s A Canticle for Leibowitz (1960), Mordecai Roshwald’s Level 7 (1959), and Pat Frank’s Alas, Babylon (1959), all showing the aftermath of nuclear destruction. Neville Shute’s On the Beach (1957; filmed in 1959) familiarized the general public as well.

It becomes obvious to most readers how Jared’s people came to be in their situation, especially when Strontium and Cobalt are deified as demons, Radiation is described as a kind of hell, and Hydrogen is named as the devil. One religious tenet holds that the presence of Light Almighty in Paradise made it possible...

(The entire section is 557 words.)