Part of our mandate here at Republibot is to point out changes in the mental weather of the SF community when they turn up. Sometimes these changes are subtle and gradual, so it's entirely possible that they may go unnoticed by the general population. Fortunately, our highly-paid staff in the "Department Of Noticing Stuff" is both highly-paid, and notices stuff, and periodically we pass their findings on to you, the consumer. And that's when you take it home and enjoy it!
Today's entry: Nukes! They're back! They're Now! They're Hip!
Once upon a time, Nuclear Weapons were a great thing. They ended World War II a full 18 months early, and saved the lives of 36 million people who were projected to have died if we'd invaded Japan the way we did Europe. Sure, they killed 70 thousand people in two cities more-or-less instantly, and at least twice that number from radiation sickness and cancer in the 30 years following the war, but when torn between the cost of 210,000 people dead over 30 years, or 31,000,000 people dead over 18 months, the Bomb looked not only like an effective weapon, it actually looked decidedly *humane*. Granted, it's the humanity of the guilotine, but that's still something. The population of Japan was about 72 million people in 1945, and thanks to the Atomic Bomb, it was 73 Million in 1947, and not a mere 42 million.
A weird concept to wrap your brain 'round, but there it is.
So the A-bomb was a good thing, used by good people for a good purpose, though lamentably a sad one.
Atomic Bombs became a fun-filled part of Science Fiction. When the Soviet Union got/stole the bomb, and the Cold War started heating up, they ceased to be fun, and became more a cautionary tale. Philip K. Dick's "Dr. Bloodmoney" and Pat Frank's "Alas, Babylon" were obviously intended to be cautionary tales about the perils and horrors that would follow World War III, but in both cases I think they failed, I think they made the post-apocalyptic landscape look preferable to the modern one. Dick's Bloodmoney version of Northern California is no worse than the 19th century in the same location, and in many ways a lot more fun. Who doesn't want to be a country squire? Likewise, Frank's Babylon version of Florida is meant to be horrifying, but actually plays out as a romantic semideserted fringeland where rugged individualists left to their own devices survive and prosper, and the dross of society withers and dies. There's an Ayn Rand quality to that, if we discount the awful scene where all the diabetics run out of insulin and die.
Time passed, and since the bomb saved the lives of 31 million people, those 31 million people who didn't die had kids who were annoying baby boomers who were keen on peace, drugs, giving each other the crabs, and little else began to believe that "All you need is love," as opposed to "All you need is love and superior firepower," which had been the status quo up until then.
Concerned inteligencia, artists, and celebrities - truth be told, mostly celebrities - grew increansingly concerned over the potential for a nuclear war, and suddenly *the Bomb* became a taboo, a demon to be opposed, or kept lamentably under lock and chain, but either way one we really don't talk about in anything as frivolous as entertainment.
Unless it's preachy, of course: "On The Beach" (Both the book and the movie) portrays a postapocalyptic world that is no worse off than the people in Babylon or Bloodmoney - Australia was completely untouched by the conflagration - but in which humanity meekly goes extinct for no real reason, aside from the author was trying to make a political statement, even if that statement insists on completely ignoring every known tenet of human behavior.
"Doctor Strangelove" was just as preachy, but far, far cleverer and with a different point: The war changes nothing. The war is over before it began, the survivors are being hearded in to facilities that will save our species, but it's fully obvious that in a hundred years, when the survivors come up to the surface again, the fighting will pick up right where it left off. Why? 'Cuz we're human, it's what we do. We're loony like that.
The Novelization of "Strangelove" sort of blows this with a useless coda in which we're told the "Mineshaft solution" didn't work, and humanity went extinct, this book being compiled from records aliens