Study Guide

Alas, Babylon What's Up With the Title?

By Pat Frank

What's Up With the Title?

Where else to cop a title for your apocalyptic novel than the Book of Revelation, the originator of the genre?

The famously dark final book in the Bible, the Book of Revelation depicts a freaky vision of the end of the world that some Christians see as symbolic, while others see as a non-fiction prediction of the future of humanity. Our fingers are crossed for the former.

Here's a choice excerpt:

Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.

And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,

Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come. (Revelation 8:8-10)

The fine details aren't too important for our purposes, but the tone of the passage is quite clear. God's mad, and He's going to blow up the world ASAP.

The passage also alludes to the Old Testament story of Babylon, a city that offends God by being audacious enough to try building a tower tall enough to reach heaven. The Big Guy's solution? Swift destruction.

You know what else is pretty audacious? Building a bomb capable of destroying a city with a single atom. In that way, we can see the title not just as a cool way of alluding to the Biblical destruction of yore, but also as a specific critique of the invention of nuclear weaponry.

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