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Tim Blackmore - Bulletin of Science Technology Society...

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http://bst.sagepub.com/ Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society http://bst.sagepub.com/content/29/1/18 The online version of this article can be found at: DOI: 10.1177/0270467608328709 2009 29: 18 Bulletin of Science Technology & Society Tim Blackmore Life of War, Death of the Rest : The Shining Path of Cormac McCarthy's Thermonuclear America Published by: http://www.sagepublications.com On behalf of: National Association for Science, Technology & Society can be found at: Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society Additional services and information for http://bst.sagepub.com/cgi/alerts Email Alerts: http://bst.sagepub.com/subscriptions Subscriptions: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.nav Reprints: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav Permissions: http://bst.sagepub.com/content/29/1/18.refs.html Citations: at UNIV OF ILLINOIS URBANA on June 15, 2011 bst.sagepub.com Downloaded from
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18 Life of War, Death of the Rest The Shining Path of Cormac McCarthy’s Thermonuclear America Tim Blackmore University of Western Ontario The Bush Administration’s quiet resumption of, or initiation of new, nuclear weapons programs aimed militarizing space, and erecting a missile defense shield that would have the effect of rolling back 19 years of solid détente, has gone largely unnoticed over the last eight years. Weapons makers, government officials and politicians have expressed excitement at these new developments, despite the immediate stress loaded onto relations between the United States and Europe, particularly ex-Soviet satellite countries. This paper revisits arguments about nuclear weaponry and the possibility for defense against and survival of a nuclear war. The paper considers the way new nuclear technologies are inherently determinist, and reflects on the threat of the apocalyptic world as seen in American author Cormac McCarthy’s unflinching 2006 novel, The Road. Keywords: new nuclear weapons; Cormac McCarthy Q: What would you buy to have ready in case of another war? A: Poison. —Joke told in Hiroshima after the bomb. Death in Life (Lifton, 1991) F or decades, this is how it was: The rockets would launch within seconds of each other, then in quick successive waves—thousands, tens of thousands, and at its peak in 1986—70,000 warheads worldwide, and boost toward one of two places: the evil empire or imperialist America. Twenty minutes later, enough stored power to make a star, trigger life, or end it, would bloom into splendid energy forms: more light than had ever been seen and survived before by any- one and pulses of air-driven shockwaves traveling at 200 miles per hour and spilling everything in their path. Thousands of clouds on stalks would rise not only over major cities and military installations but also over towns, then smaller towns, and finally ham- lets, villages, and crossroads. But now it is not like that: People are friends. Missiles have been pointed away, retargeted, destroyed, retired. The remaining 20,000 are programmed not for evil empires but for evildoers. 1 In the amateur-hour nuclear theater, some- one working in their backyard during lunch break
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