The Wall is a novel-length work of stories set in the same place, at different times, with only some overlapping characters. The Wall was started in the early 1980s, as President Reagan took active antagonistic measures regarding the Soviets and increased the funding and rhetoric for the American Nuclear Arsenal, with the result of heightened nuclear competition between the two then-superpowers. Doomsday clocks were advanced, the arms race amplified, Star Wars proposed, and anti-nuclear weapon activism on the rise.
This work reasonably can be considered as Science Fiction, and, more specifically, within the sub-genre known as Post-Apocalyptic, a sub-genre marked these days by the plethora of zombie fiction, followed by post-EMP or grid-collapse stories; post-nuclear holocaust stories have become relatively rare today. There are about a half-dozen good–some great–post-nuclear holocaust novels from the Golden Age of Science Fiction (Walter M. Miller Jr.’s A Canticle for Liebowitz is one; On the Beach by Nevil Shute another; and Pat Frank’s Alas, Babylon, a third), but this once well-supplied sub-genre offered far too many poorly considered guy-get-gun-and-girl stories that rather cavalierly killed off millions and billions just to set up rather cliched story lines.
My adolescent sensibilities were offended by this callous application, for mere entertainment, of such a potentially devastating, world-changing, and, for too many times in the post-WWII history, all too likely nuclear exchange. I was a young kid during the Cuban Missile Crisis and every day, at noon, the evacuation siren would sound, high up on a telephone pole a short distance to my childhood home in the countryside of Rhode Island. The days of “Duck and Cover.”
And so, the original impulse of this undertaking by this author-as-young-man, just out of college, settling into the profession of publishing, but already infected with the disease called writing.
I undertook intense study of the effects of nuclear weapons, and amassed quite the library, typically from the Government Printing Office, since most studies were undertaken at the behest of the government and were–when not classified–public domain. I started in writing. I was young, inexperienced, and too caught up in evidencing my pedantic learning, and all this was recipe for disaster.
And adult life took hold, with my profession, with marriage, home buying, children. Time was scant, but periodically I’d come back to the work–sometimes many years between such effort–and slowly the work began to shape up.
It has taken decades to write away from the pedagogical intent, to shape the characters, and to refine the states of mind of characters under such horrifying conditions of the stories, but that refinement was, I came to realize, the main focus of the work. Fiction can mainly be an exercise of imagining “what if” and then shaping the best answers the author can uncover.
After umpteen drafts, major re-writes, and decades of time, I’m happy enough with this exercise.
The stories are linked to below, separately, as simple (in other words, scroll after scroll after scroll) HTML, so that an expanded number of readers can help me decide if the work has merit, and merit enough to consider a more formal publication.
WHEN JOHNNY COMES MARCHING HOME