Recurring Characters

Many character types seem to appear in different nuclear war stories by different authors. Be on the lookout for:

NOAH:  The virtuous man, he receives an early warning of upcoming catastrophe, makes some hurried preparations, and manages to save anything from his immediate loved ones to civilization itself.  Strangely, he sometimes only rises to his full potential when the world is falling apart.

LOT: A would-be Noah, he tries to outrun Armageddon but, owing to his own flaws, is doomed to ultimate failure.

THE GOOD SOLDIER: A General?  A Colonel?  He’s just doing his duty, but with flair and imagination, often able to transcend the letter of his orders to better serve their spirit.  He never panics, even when lesser men fall to pieces around him.

THE PRESIDENT:  The most powerful man in the world, usually defined by his powerlessness.  He let the situation deteriorate to the point of automatic cataclysm; now his struggle is to save what’s left by outwitting the system he helped create.

THE TRUE BELIEVER:  It might have been him saying “we had to destroy the village in order to save it,” but in his case, the village is the whole planet.  His dogmatic faith in the absolute evil of the Enemy has rendered him an even greater villain.  Often he is, in some way, “other.” Is his passion linked to a deficiency in his social/familial/sexual life?

THE OPPORTUNIST: Willing to see tens of millions of people killed if it'll look good on his resume. Cold, calculating, an "outsider." Able to cynically use the fears and desires of those around him to advance his own interests.

MOLLY:  No one is so blind as she who refuses to see; this character (male or female) is unable to adjust to the new reality, even after the bomb drops.  Somewhere between pathetic and despicable, she seems to exist mostly to throw the Noahs into sharper relief.

THE MILITANT PACIFIST:  Somebody who sees the onrushing tide and, unlike everybody else, isn’t willing to just sit making sandcastles.  Smarter, stronger and usually more ruthless, he’s willing to do harm for the greater good.  Similar in some ways to the True Believer.

THE WORKER BEE:  Pre- or post-nuke, this is somebody who accepts reality as he sees it, and works with good spirit to make the most of whatever world he finds himself in.

THE MAN OF SCIENCE: Interested in the process, not in the potential results. Will tamper in "things man was not meant to know" without heed to the consequences of his actions.

(12/27/09)