Study Guide

Alas, Babylon Setting

By Pat Frank

Setting

Fort Repose, Florida

Most people would spend a pretty penny for an extended vacation in sunny Central Florida, right? How about spending the nuclear apocalypse there?

Disney's Backyard

Before The Day, Fort Repose is a tiny, idyllic community. It's got total small-town charm. Here's an illustrative early passage:

In Fort Repose, a river town in Central Florida, it was said that sending a message by Western Union [telegrams] was the same as broadcasting it over the combined networks.Ā (1.1)

This is a place where everyone knows your name, which can either be a good or bad thing depending on your perspective. There's a lot of gossip to go around, true, but there are also a lot of people to lean on when times get tough.

Fort Repose also happens to be beautiful. Randy's home is located on prime real estate, with a river at his back and an orange grove at his side. It belongs on a postcard. As it turns out, both of these natural features prove quite useful over the course of Alas, Babylon, as they provide steady supplies of food even after society collapses.

Down but Not Out

Speaking of societal collapse, that whole nuclear apocalypse business really throws Fort Repose for a loop. Within a few days of war breaking out, the town center is completely empty, with the only activity taking place in Marines Park, which has become the de-facto trading center. There are certain neighborhoods, like Pistolville, that are in particularly rough shape: Randy "has seen degradation such as this" before, assumedly in Korea, but never expected to see it in backyard (8.144).

Despite this destruction, Fort Repose remains number one in Randy's heart. Even after being offered the opportunity to evacuate, he decides to stay because "this was Randy's town and these were his people and he knew he would not leave them" (13.90). It might be less pretty than it used to be, but Fort Repose is Randy's home. It's going to take a lot more than a measly nuclear apocalypse to make him abandon it.

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