26 July 2009

51. Chernobyl

Chernobyl - Frederik Pohl

This novel took a real world event and fictionalized it. Is fictionalized a word?
I have read a lot about what happened at Chernobyl. This book kept the facts straight for the most part. Things like the dates, the timeline, the causes, the reactions, all seemed to be on par with what actually happened in those days that grabbed the worlds attention.

That was all key to the story, but it was not the story. This book was about the people. Granted, they were fictional people, but what they were doing was actually done by real living breathing human beings.
The main characters in this book are the deputy director of the power plant and his family, an engineer who works with the water systems in the plant and his family, a few power plant operators, a fireman, an army private, and the Government of the USSR.
We follow all these characters as the disaster unfolds. Some turn out to be heroes. Some end up being chumps. Some live. Some die. We get to know their families, their motivations for doing what they do, and their shortcomings. They end up seeming like they could be real people.

Aftasia Smin was one of my favorite characters. She was an 86 year old woman, born in 1900. She was a hero of the first world war. She was a wounded combat veteran, and a generally feisty old lady with power and respect even all those years later. She told stories of the Stalin days a few times. On one occasion there was a side trip she took some relatives on to the Babi Yar site in Kiev. This is a location where the Nazis murdered 100,000 Ukrainian Jews (and others) during WWII. There was a lengthy speech given by her that explained the history of the place. This has nothing to do with the Chernobyl story, but I am glad it was there. It seems that Babi Yar gets overlooked when looking at atrocities around the globe. This brought it to my attention again, and then I can blog about it and bring it to yours. It happened.

While reading this book I constantly thought of Elena Filitova and the documentary films she has made in the restricted zone. She has visited the Chernobyl power plant, the town of Pripyat. Visit this website for more info. Thanks for sending it to me so many years ago Mike. http://www.kiddofspeed.com/ Make sure you check out the link called Elena Revisits Chernobyl and watch the Ghost Town video.

The Chernobyl power plant, reactor number 4.The town of Pripyat, Ukraine. It has been abandoned since 1986.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, depressing but very important stuff. Good job keeping that Kid of Speed link for so long!