- Term Papers and Free Essays

Tommowro When The War Began

Essay by   •  November 5, 2010  •  1,503 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,234 Views

Essay Preview: Tommowro When The War Began

Report this essay
Page 1 of 7

Someone recently said that some of the best speculative fiction (SF) being written today is being written for young adults. I'm sure Card said it, I heard Jane Yolen say it, and Locus magazine printed it. I said it a couple of times at the 56th World Science Fiction Convention in Baltimore, MD this past August to impress people. The reason you can say that without plagiarism is because it's true. If you've spent any time reading young adult SF, you are as expert on the topic as Card, Yolen, and Locus. There's good stuff in the young adult section.

I've been given carte blanche to define "lost" in anyway that works for this column. If you've not experienced much young adult SF, then the books I want to review this month are lost. Lost to you and countless others who never stray past the adult SF section.

With the end of the cold war, we don't think often about being invaded. But, I'm old enough to have been in fourth or fifth grade during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I didn't really understand what was going on but I know now how close we came to a nuclear war. I recall learning how to "duck and cover" under our desks to protect us from the nuclear blast (Ha!). Instead of fire drills we had air raid drills to the basement of the school which had been turned into an air raid shelter. Mostly we thought this was great, because it interrupted the otherwise dull school day.

I grew up in Arlington, VA - stones throw from Washington, DC - long before air conditioning. Summer nights were spent on the screened back porch with a bowl of ice cream listening to the adults discuss how we didn't stand a chance in a nuclear confrontation since Washington, DC was surely the first strike. My only comfort came in knowing I'd be a crispy critter and would feel very little being so close to the center of the blast.

As I walked to school those days and after, during the escalation of the cold war, I watched my neighbors dig huge holes in their back yards and build bomb shelters. I often wondered if it was really possible to survive in one of those things. I got a peek inside one once. It contained a mattress to sleep on, rows and rows of canned food, bleach bottles full of water, and a shot gut leaning up in one corner. Pretty well scared the crap right out of me and brought home quickly how real some people thought this threat really was. In the six-block walk to school from my childhood home there were about a dozen bomb shelters. My plan was to get really friendly with some of the people who had bomb shelters so they would let me in during an attack. Needless to say, my plan failed as most of these people weren't interested in "strange" elementary school children asking questions about their bomb shelter across the fence. Everyone tried to pretend they didn't have one.

Enough of my life story - you don't read this column to hear of the nightmares of a 10-year-old from Arlington, VA. And why am I going into such detail about nuclear war? Tomorrow, When the War Began, and its sequels, are not about a nuclear disaster They're not about rebuilding society after the apocalypse. John Marsden's books are about young people surviving the invasion of their country by an unknown, hostile enemy. In some ways, I found these books to be more frightening since the so-called "end" of the cold war does not necessarily cancel out the possibility of invasion. And although I think the invasion of the United States has a low probability, I found it frighteningly easy to identify with the plight of Marsden's characters. Technically speaking, John Clute categorizes books like these into "disaster or holocaust" books. Along with post-holocaust, according to Clute, they are the most popular forms of speculative fiction.

The story takes place in Australia. Eight high school students go on one last camping trip in the "bush" during Christmas vacation (which is like summer downunder). While they are away, hostile forces invade Australia and they emerge only to find empty houses and a hand scrawled fax warning them to go "bush" if they find no one home. One father's insightful effort to warn his daughter.

I gather from descriptions in the book and email from a colleague in Australia that "bush" is not like our national parks. The Australian bush is very dense, impassible, and makes for a great place to hide. Lots of thorns. It would take napalm to penetrate the Australian bush. Fortunately for the young adults, Australia's invaders want the country for themselves and therefore only destroy what they feel is unavoidable. Such instances include fire bombing a farmhouse the invaders thought our heroes were hiding in and destroying half of the town in a show of force.

Most importantly, these books are about how eight teenagers survive the invasion. How they begin to come together as a team and learn to depend on each other. How they are forced into amateur guerilla warfare tactics in order to survive and fight for their family's freedom. Each character is an experiment. We watch them look deep within



Download as:   txt (8.3 Kb)   pdf (105.5 Kb)   docx (12.2 Kb)  
Continue for 6 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2010, 11). Tommowro When The War Began. Retrieved 11, 2010, from

"Tommowro When The War Began" 11 2010. 2010. 11 2010 <>.

"Tommowro When The War Began.", 11 2010. Web. 11 2010. <>.

"Tommowro When The War Began." 11, 2010. Accessed 11, 2010.