On Nuclear War in the Star Trek Universe

Nuclear war happened in the Star Trek universe. “Encounter at Farpoint” talks about the Post-Atomic Horror. Star Trek: First Contact tells us 600 million dead. But where?

Asia and the Pacific Rim? Gone, reduced to radioactive slag. That makes sense, given what Q showed us of the court from the Post-Atomic Horror, and the fact that there doesn’t seem to be anyone of Asian descent in the 23rd and 24th centuries (and those that we do see clearly hail from North America–Sulu from San Francisco, Harry from South Carolina [I think], and Hash [from NF] probably from Georgia).

North America? Europe? Largely untouched. San Fransisco looks a little different, the Eiffel Tower still stands, so we know these cities didn’t get hit with mushroom clouds. (On the other hand, a lot is going to depend on the yield of the weapon and whether it’s an airburster or a groundburster, so these cities could have taken a nuclear hit.)

Something to remember, though. A nuclear war in the 21st century won’t render a place uninhabitable; you could in time (a decade at most) return to the area and resettle it. (Brendan DuBois’ kickass alternate history Resurrection Day deals with that very point.) So, just because Asia is a radioactive parking lot in 2060 doesn’t mean no one’s living there in 2360.

Essentially, the point I’m trying to make is this: a nuclear war doesn’t necessarily have to be global. Something beginning in India, Pakistan, or China wouldn’t necessarily involve everyone. (Though I would question a situation where India and China were exchanging nukes and China didn’t take a pot-shot at Russia or the United States just to get one in.) The Cold War mentality is that a nuclear war would affect everyone , and while there would be some global cooling in the short term (since it looks like Carl Sagan overstated the nuclear winter hypothesis), a limited nuclear exchange is more probable in Trek‘s history.

Or at least, that’s the way I see it.

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

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