- Daisy (aka Elizabeth) is an anorexic 15-year-old from New York. She comes to Britain to live with Aunt Penn out of spite of her father and her stepmother. She falls in love with Edmond and begins an intimate relationship with him. Daisy is described as spunky, steadfast, and selfish at times.
- Edmond is a 14-year-old boy who is Daisy's cousin. When Daisy first met him at the airport, she described him as "some kind of mutt, you know the ones you see at the dog shelter who are kind of hopeful and sweet and put their nose straight into your hand when they meet you with a certain kind of dignity and you know from that second that you're going to take him home?" Edmond is innocent, sweet, and incorruptible.
- Piper is Aunt Penn's only daughter and Daisy's cousin She is the youngest of the family and has an almost angelic essence to her. Daisy feels protective of her and acts as her mother when Aunt Penn is away.
- Isaac Edmond's twin brother, He shares a special connection with animals, seemingly understanding what they are saying. He is generally silent, only talking when he chooses to.
- Osbert is Piper and Edmond's elder brother. He is 16.
- Aunt Penn is the mother of Piper, Edmond, Isaac and Osbert. She is Daisy's deceased mother's sister. Daisy sees Aunt Penn as the caring and loving mother figure she never got to have.
- Daisy's father is mostly too preoccupied with his second wife and his work to notice Daisy. Daisy used her anorexia and more to attract his attention.
- Davina is Daisy's stepmother and Daisy's father's second wife. Daisy describes her as heartless and cruel, dubbing her "Davina the Diabolical."
- Leah is Daisy's friend. During Daisy's stay at Aunt Penn's, Leah continually updates Daisy with recent news and events occurring at her school.
- Mrs. McEvoy is the woman who Daisy and Piper is sent to during the war. She is described as too nice and cheery, but Daisy overlooks this because "at least she was trying to be nice which even I had to admit is something."
- Joe is the son of Mrs. McEvoy. He dies in the war.
- World War III is a common theme in popular culture. Since the 1940s, countless books, films, and television programmes have used the theme of nuclear weapons and a third global war. The presence of the Soviet Union as an international rival armed with nuclear weapons created a persistent fear in the United States. There was a pervasive dread of a nuclear World War III, and popular culture reveals the fears of the public at the time. This theme in the arts was also a way of exploring a range of issues far beyond nuclear war. The historian Spencer R. Weart called nuclear weapons a "symbol for the worst of modernity."During the Cold War, concepts such as mutual assured destruction (MAD) led lawmakers and government officials in both the United States and the Soviet Union to avoid entering a nuclear World War III that could have had catastrophic consequences on the entire world. Various scientists and authors, such as Carl Sagan, predicted massive, possibly life ending destruction of the earth as the result of such a conflict. Strategic analysts assert that nuclear weapons prevented the United States and the Soviet Union from fighting World War III with conventional weapons. Nevertheless, the possibility of such a war became the basis for speculative fiction, and its simulation in books, films and video games became a way to explore the issues of a war that has thus far not occurred in reality. The only places a global nuclear war have ever been fought are in expert scenarios, theoretical models, war games, and the art, film, and literature of the nuclear age. The concept of mutually assured destruction was also the focus of numerous movies and films.
- Prescient stories about nuclear war were written before the invention of the atomic bomb. The most notable of these is The World Set Free, written by H. G. Wells in 1914. During World War II, several nuclear war stories were published in science fiction magazines such as Astounding. In Robert A. Heinlein's story "Solution Unsatisfactory" the US develops radioactive dust as the ultimate weapon of war and uses it to destroy Berlin in 1945 and end the war with Germany. The Soviet Union then develops the same weapon independently, and war between it and the US follows. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 made stories of a future global nuclear war look less like fiction and more like prophecy. When William Faulkner received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1949, he spoke about Cold War themes in art. He worried that younger writers were too preoccupied with the question of "When will I be blown up?"
American fears of an impending apocalyptic World War III with the communist bloc were strengthened by the quick succession of the Soviet Union’s nuclear bomb test, the Chinese Communist Revolution in 1949, and the beginning of the Korean War in 1950. Pundits named the era "the age of anxiety", after W. H. Auden. In 1951, an entire issue of Collier's magazine was devoted to a fictional account of World War III. The issue was entitled "Preview of the War We Do Not Want". In the magazine, war begins when the Red Army invades Yugoslavia and the United States responds by conducting a three-month-long bombing campaign of Soviet Union military and industrial targets. The Soviet Union retaliates by bombing New York City,Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Detroit.
Against this background of dread, there was an outpouring of cinema with frightening themes, particularly in the science fiction genre. Science fiction had previously not been popular with either critics or movie audiences, but it became a viable Hollywood genre during the Cold War. In the 1950s, science fiction had two main themes: the invasion of the Earth by superior, aggressive, and frequently technologically advanced aliens; and the dread of atomic weapons, which was typically portrayed as a revolt of nature, with irradiated monsters attacking and ravaging entire cities.
In The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), a flying saucer lands on the Mall in Washington DC, where it is surrounded by troops and tanks. The alien Klaatu delivers an ultimatum that the Earth must learn to live in peace or it will be destroyed. The War of the Worlds (1953) has a montage sequence where the countries of Earth join together to fight the Martian invaders. The montage conspicuously omits the Soviet Union, implying that the aliens are a metaphor for communists. The most elaborate science fiction films in the 1950s were This Island Earth (1955) and Forbidden Planet (1956). In the climax of both films, the characters witness the explosion of alien planets, implying Earth's possible fate. The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959) is also in the science fiction genre. In it, a man, a woman, and a bigot (the devil) roam New York City after a nuclear war. Only those three characters appear in the film. Also released in 1959 was On the Beach, directed by Stanley Kramer and starringAva Gardner, Gregory Peck and Fred Astaire. Based on the successful novel by Nevil Shute, the film deals with the citizens of Australiaas they await radioactive fallout, a result of a catastrophic nuclear war in the Northern Hemisphere. The French author Stefan Wul's 1957 novel Niourk provided a portrait of New York after World War III. The 1959 novel Alas, Babylon depicted the effects of nuclear war on a small town in Florida; a television adaptation was broadcast in 1960.
Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell's dystopian 1949 novel about life after a third world war, rose to cultural prominence in the 1950s. In it, the world has endured a massive atomic war and is politically divided into three totalitarian superstates, which are intentionally locked into a perpetual military stalemate; this never-ending warfare is used to subjugate their populations.
Films and television programs made in the 1980s had different visions of what World War III would be like. Red Dawn (1984) portrayed a World War III that begins unexpectedly, with a surprise Soviet and Cuban invasion of the United States. A small band of teenagers fight the Soviet and Cuban occupation using guerrilla tactics. In the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy, James Bond tries to prevent World War III from being started by a renegade Soviet general. WarGames (1983) had a teenage gamer accidentally hacking the U.S. nuclear defense network (thinking he'd hacked a computer game company), which reveals a potentially catastrophic flaw in the newly automated system. Spies Like Us depicts US agents in the USSR accidentally launching a missile at the US, leading one of them to say "I think we just started World War III."
2000s: Concern over terrorism
After the September 11, 2001 attacks, a scenario of World War III beginning as a result of a nuclear or other catastrophic terrorist attack became prominent. Terrorism in the form of nuclear, chemical, or biological attacks now occupy the place in popular culture once held by the vision of a nuclear World War III between world powers.
Paramount Pictures released a film adaptation of Tom Clancy's The Sum of All Fears in 2002. The production of the film began before 9/11, and was originally intended as an escapist thriller where CIA analyst Jack Ryan fights Neo-Nazis who conspire to detonate a nuclear weapon at a football game to start a nuclear war between Russia and the United States. However, the film’s release just seven months after 9/11 made it very topical. Phil Alden Robinson, the film's director, commented that "a year ago, you'd have said, 'great popcorn film,'...Today you say, 'that's about the world I live in.'" There was an aggressive promotional campaign, with movie trailers and television commercials showing the nuclear destruction of a city and a special premiere for politicians in Washington, D.C.
Recently, World War III has also become the topic of several popular video games, reflecting the trend towards increased public consciousness of the possibility of a future global war. Games such as Tom Clancy's EndWar, Battlefield: Bad Company andFrontlines: Fuel of War, paint scenarios about a Third World War driven by the need for resources on the part of the various combatants.Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 are also recent examples; at the end of the latter's launch advertisement, the "W" in "WW3" flips itself to read "MW3." These games feature a global war between the United States and Russia after the United States is framed for a massacre at a Moscow airport and soon after, the Russians expand their war into Europe.Battlefield 3, on the other hand, follows The Sum of All Fears's example, portraying Iranian terrorists stealing portable atomic weaponsfrom Russia for the purpose of provoking a war between them and the United States. Other games such as World In Conflict, andTurning Point: Fall of Liberty take place in alternate histories where global war is a reality, the former being a war between the United States and the Soviet Union, and the latter being a war between the United States and a much stronger Nazi Germany that won World War II, both games depicting an invasion of America. The Fallout series continued to portray the aftermath of nuclear war with its most recent entries, Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. Ace Combat Assault Horizon starts with a Russian Rebellion taking control of Russia and starting a war with the United States and NATO. The 2007 bestselling game DEFCON places players in charge of preparing to and then fighting a nuclear war with other human or computer-generated players attacking from and defending different sectors of planet Earth; its simple 1980s-style vector graphics are inspired by those seen in the 1983 hit movie WarGames. Wargame: European Escalation is a RTS game that simulates full scale conventional warfare between NATO and Warsaw Pact between 1975 and 1985.
In 2000 a made-for-television remake of Fail-Safe was produced; it remained set in the 1960s of the novel.
Alien invasions have become a popular topic as a World War III-like conflict, with the alien invaders portrayed in a similar way to a military invasion, such as seen in the films Skyline, (2010), Battle: Los Angeles (2011), and Pacific Rim (2013), and the TV seriesFalling Skies (2010).
Daniel Defoe's 1719 novel Robinson Crusoe is about a man shipwrecked on a remote tropical island and forced to survive. It spawned an entire genre of fiction called Robinsonade, famously including Johann David Wyss's 1812 novel The Swiss Family Robinson.
Edward Abbey's 1980 novel Good News is about small bands of people in the Phoenix, Arizona area trying to fend off the rise of a military dictatorship after the collapse of the economy and government.
The Survivalist is the title of a series of 29 paperback novels by Jerry Ahern first published between 1981 and 1993.
Steve Boyett's 1983 novel Ariel is notable for having all advanced technology ceasing to function, while magic becomes real. The protagonist struggles to travel across a world where no technology functions, filled with cannibals and other dangers.
The Postman by David Brin (1985) is set in a time after a massive plague and political fracture result in a complete collapse of society. It gives a very unflattering portrayal of survivalists as one of the causes behind the collapse. The quasi-survivalist "Holnist" characters are despised by the remaining population. The Holnists follow a totalitarian social theory idolizing the powerful who enforce their perceived right to oppress the weak. However, later Brin stated that when he was writing the book survivalist was the best term to describe the militia movement.
Ernest Callenbach's 1975 novel Ecotopia, about the secession of the Pacific Northwest from the United States to form a new countrybased on environmentalism, named the political party governing the new country the Survivalist Party. However, in his 1981 sequel to the book, Ecotopia Emerging, he qualified that choice of name by having the party leader state that the name Survivalist referred to the survival of the planet's ecosystems, rather than to people who prepare for an economic or political collapse.
Wolf and Iron by Gordon R. Dickson (1993) details the journey of a single man attempting to cross 2000 miles of hostile territory. He faces roving gangs and fortified towns after a worldwide financial collapse. This book is extremely detailed in its discussion of certain techniques and preparations needed in a post-apocalyptic world.
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank (1959) is a story dealing with life in Florida after a nuclear war with the USSR. Pat Frank also authored the non-fiction book How To Survive the H Bomb And Why. (J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, 1962.)
Dmitry Glukhovsky's novel Metro 2033, about survivors in Moscow, Russia, living in the city's subway tunnels after a nuclear attack, has spawned many stories, books, and video games that take place in the same setting and fictional universe.
Robert A. Heinlein uses survivalism as a theme in much of his science fiction. Tunnel in the Sky (1955) explores issues of survivalism and social interactions in an unfamiliar environment. Farnham's Freehold (1964) begins as a story of survivalism in a nuclear war. Heinlein also wrote essays such as How to be a Survivor which provide advice on preparing for and surviving a nuclear war.
Stephen King's 1978 post-apocalyptic novel The Stand is set after a biological weapon pandemic. The surviving few slowly gather together only to realise that they are not alone.
World Made by Hand by James Howard Kunstler (2008) is a "cozy catastrophe" set in upstate New York. The time is the near future, and the novel depicts an America that has economically collapsed as a result of the combined impact of peak oil, global warming,influenza pandemic, and nuclear terrorism. The characters struggle to reclaim lost skills, maintain order, and redevelop a pre-industrial revolution lifestyle in an agrarian village. In part, the novel explores the question of what happens when modern technology, based on electricity, is no longer available.
Malevil by French writer Robert Merle (1972) describes refurbishing a medieval castle, and its use as a survivalist stronghold in the aftermath of a full-scale nuclear war. The novel was adapted into a 1981 film directed by Christian de Chalonge and starring Michel Serrault, Jacques Dutronc, Jacques Villeret and Jean-Louis Trintignant. Malevil at the Internet Movie Database.
Lucifer's Hammer by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven (1977) is about a cataclysmic comet hitting the Earth, and various groups of people struggling to survive the aftermath in southern California. Their similarly themed "Footfall" (1985) is about aliens bombarding Earth using controlled meteorite strikes to exterminate life. Lucifer’s Hammer has contributed significantly to the survivalist movement, as we understand it today. One reviewer noted: "A comet’s impact with the Earth creates an extremely bad, worst-case “fast crash” scenario. ...In this novel, people begin feeding on one another, literally, within a month of the event."
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (1957) describes a group of highly creative people who withdraw from society into a hidden mountain valley while civilization totally collapses - whereupon they emerge to rebuild it. This book differs from others in the genre in that the protagonists' withdrawal directly causes the collapse, since it was they who sustained civilization.
Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse by James Wesley Rawles (2009) is a novel about a full-scale socio-economic collapse and subsequent invasion of the US. The novel describes in detail how the survivalist main characters establish a self-sufficient survival retreat in north-central Idaho. The novel has had three sequels, all three of which were New York Times bestsellers.
Olaf Stapledon's monumental cosmic history Last and First Men includes an episode when the whole world is devastated by a nuclear chain reaction and the whole of humanity is killed except for a few hundreds who happened to be near the North Pole. Their descendants eventually re-populate the world and create a new civilization, but this takes hundreds of thousands of years.
Earth Abides by George R. Stewart (1949), deals with one man who finds most of civilization has been destroyed by a plague. Slowly a small community forms around him as he struggles to start a new civilization and preserve knowledge and learning.
Dies the Fire, (2004) the first book in The Emberverse series of post-apocalyptic fiction by alternate history author S.M. Stirling. The story takes shape in a universe where electricity, guns, explosives, internal combustion engines, and steam power no longer work. More books follow in the series and flesh out the story-line in a survivalist post-Change world of agriculture, clan-based life and conflict.
H.G. Wells, who pioneered many sub-genres of modern Science Fiction, contributed to this one as well. The later parts of his 1908 novel The War in the Air depicts the collapse of modern civilization due to the massive use of weapons of mass destruction and the systematic destruction of cities, the grim struggle of the isolated few survivors, and the reversion of the world to semi-Medieval conditions - in all this anticipating recurring themes of later works.
Philip Wylie's novel Tomorrow (1954) is the story of two American cities weathering a nuclear attack. One was prepared with an extensive civil defense plan while the other was not.
John Wyndham's 1951 novel The Day of the Triffids is the story of the survival of a small group of people in a post-apocalyptic world dominated by carnivorous plants where most of the population is afflicted by blindness. It was later adapted into a feature film and TV series. It was also the inspiration for Danny Boyle's 2002 zombie film 28 Days Later, which shares plot elements and survivalist themes.
The Tomorrow series is a series of seven novels (published 1993–99) by John Marsden, that tell of a high-intensity invasion and occupation of Australia by a foreign power where a small band of teenagers are waging a guerilla war on the enemy soldiers in the region around their fictional home town of Wirrawee. The name of the series is derived from the title of the first book, Tomorrow, When the War Began. In 2010 the first book was adapted into a movie.
24 is a TV series about a federal agent named Jack Bauer and his attempts foil terrorist plots in Los Angeles. During Season 2 Jack's daughter, Kim Bauer, is on the run from the law and finds shelter with a survivalist.
The TNT series Falling Skies tells the story of the aftermath of a global invasion by extraterrestrials . Within a few days the invaders neutralize the world's power grid and technology, destroy the armies of all the world's countries, and apparently kill over 90% of the human population. The aliens' objectives are not explained. The story picks up six months after the invasion and follows a group of survivors who band together to fight back.
Jericho (2006) is a TV series that portrays a small town in Kansas after a series of nuclear explosions across the United States. In the series, the character Robert Hawkins uses his prior planning and survival skills in preparation of the attacks. Most of the episodes center around the sudden collapse of American society resulting in a six way split of the country. The town usually must fight an outside enemy in order to preserve their food and supplies. Jericho, as well as other media fiction (as Oddworld) also focuses on scavenging.
Lost, a group of crash survivors are stranded on an island with little food and only the remains of the aircraft and baggage to survive with. Over the course of the series, the survivors adapt to life on the jungle isle while some even welcome it. One of the main characters of the series, John Locke, appears to be a survivalist even before the events of the crash, due to carrying knives with him as baggage, possessing hunting and tracking skills, and being part of a pseudo-survivalist commune earlier in life.
Revolution (TV series) is an NBC science fiction television series that takes place in a post-apocalyptic future. Fifteen years earlier, an unknown phenomenon disabled all advanced technology on the planet, ranging from computers and electronics to car engines, jet engines, and batteries. People were forced to adapt to a world without technology, and due to the collapse of public order, many areas are ruled by warlords and militias. The series focuses on the Matheson family, who possess an item that is the key to not only finding out what happened fifteen years ago, but also a possible way to reverse its effects. However, they must elude various enemy groups who want to possess that power for themselves.
In the HBO TV series Six Feet Under, George Sibley's delusions manifests itself as a form of survivalism, and he becomes terrified that a number of apocalyptic or damaging events, ranging from nuclear war and the disappearance of water to earthquakes, are imminent and takes precautions against it, much to the horror of his wife - who realizes that it is beyond cautious and is becoming obsessive.
Survivor (2000–present) is a reality television game show which places a group of contestants in remote location and awards a prize to the one which lasts the longest. Generally, the game is structured such that a player's social skills are more important to winning than survival skills.
The BBC TV series Survivors, which ran from 1975-1977, suggested a UK view of survivalism with a small band of survivors emerging from a pandemic that wipes out more than 95% of the population. The BBC as of November 2008 started airing a new updated Survivors series. This new series is more hard-edged than the original, but still shows the protagonist "Abby Grant" and her ad hoc survival group as reluctant to arm themselves, even after being confronted by armed adversaries on numerous occasions. As of episode 6 (which aired on Dec. 29, 2008) Abby's group is forced to abandoned their quasi-retreat—a country estate—following a confrontation and kidnapping by a provisional government.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008) is a science fiction show involving time travel with lead characters that take survivalist steps to prepare for, or possibly prevent, a future nuclear war.
Sheldon Cooper, a character in The Big Bang Theory is a paranoid survivalist, he keeps at least two survival kits in his bedroom and has planned emergency escape routes from each room in the house. He also keeps a "Bug Out" bag in case he needs to leave at a moment's notice, as such a course of action is "recommended by the Department of Homeland Security. And Sarah Connor".
Discovery Channel has aired two seasons of reality show The Colony in which a group of survivors try to survive in a "post apocalyptic world" where a majority of Earth's population is killed by a hypothetical "virus" and attempt to "rebuild".
Two made-for-TV movies made during the 1980s, The Day After in the US and Threads in the UK, portray a nuclear war and its aftermath of social chaos and economic collapse. Both movies were, at the time, among the most controversial ever made for television.
The Fire Next Time (1993) a made for television mini-series set in 2017 portrays the world undergoing green house gas-caused global warming caused natural disasters. The story follows the Morgan family, as they try to escape the floods, hurricanes and droughts and find a way to survive together against all odds. The movie starred Craig T. Nelson, Bonnie Bedelia and Justin Whalin.
The AMC series The Walking Dead (2010–present) features a small group of survivors led by Rick Grimes of a worldwide "zombie apocalypse". The group moves together, scavenging what they can from the remains of society, while fighting off a seemingly endless number of zombies. The group starts off as a camp outside the city of Atlanta then after an attack by a large number of zombies, the remaining survivors of the group make it to a farm and live somewhat comfortably there for some time until the farm is burned down in a fight with a large number of zombies. The group are now currently located in an abandoned prison and caught in a war with a larger and heavily armored group of survivors.
Young Love, Interrupted by a Nuclear Bomb
‘How I Live Now,’ a Dystopian Drama Starring Saoirse Ronan
By JEANNETTE CATSOULIS
Published: November 7, 2013
You know what it’s like when you fall in love for the first time, and then World War III breaks out? Well, Daisy (Saoirse Ronan), the spiky 16-year-old American heroine of “How I Live Now,” is about to find out. Shipped off for the summer to relatives in the English countryside, Daisy hides her vulnerability behind bleached-out bangs and coal-black eyeliner, compulsively washing her hands after contact with her free-spirited cousins and their chaotic farmhouse.
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How I Live Now
Prioritizing feelings over information and sentiment over tension, the director, Kevin Macdonald — who, with films like “The Last King of Scotland” and “State of Play,” has been more accustomed to the power plays of grown men than the emotional journeys of teenage girls — fully commits to Daisy’s point of view. But this respectful adaptation of Meg Rosoff’s 2004 young-adult novel loses its footing when Daisy’s attraction to Cousin Eddie (George MacKay), an enigmatic cow whisperer and hawk healer, is harshly interrupted by a nuclear device that devastates London.
As sun-dappled infatuation abruptly crashes into post-apocalyptic survival, Mr. Macdonald struggles to balance a nebulous narrative on tentpole moments of rich emotional resonance. Neither those nor the considerable skills of Ms. Ronan are enough to save completely a film whose R rating may scare off the younger teenagers who will most appreciate its obsessive romanticism. But by divorcing the second half’s random horrors from a larger political picture, Mr. Macdonald gives them a shocking immediacy, and sometimes that’s enough.
“How I Live Now” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). Teenage sex and adult atrocities.