Surviving the Nuclear Holocaust: Andre Norton’s Sea Siege

For the first time in my reading and rereading of Andre Norton’s novels, I’ve found one that happens during the atomic holocaust. Especially in the Fifties, she referred to it constantly, taking as a given that Earth would nuke itself. But her stories nearly always take place in the aftermath, sometimes very long after—Plague Ship, for example, or Daybreak/Star Man’s Son.

In Sea Siege, the big blow comes midway in the book.

It’s pretty clear it’s coming. Protagonist Griff Gunston (could there be a more perfect Fifties boy’s-adventure name?) is living a boy’s dream on Caribbean island with his scientist father and his father’s assistant, Hughes. He swims, dives, and hangs with the native inhabitants of this bleak expanse of rock and salt. He’s aware that the outside world is lurching toward war, and there are signs that all is not well with the environment. Boats ...