Mushroom Cloud

The detonation of an atomic bomb creates the distinctive "mushroom cloud" explosion.

An atomic bomb is a superweapon which operates according to Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity, saying a small amount of mass can be converted into a large amount of energy. In an atomic bomb an atom's nucleus is divided and the mass of its subatomic particles is converted into enough destructive energy to destroy a city. In OTL, it was first developed by the United States but other World War II powers had atomic research programs. So far, only the U.S. has deployed an atomic bomb, dropping one on Hiroshima and another on Nagasaki, Japan in August 1945, thereby ending World War II.

Atomic bomb in "Birdwitching"

Megamagics created the sorceries of mass destruction which swept two Nipponese cities off the map at the end of the Second Great Slaughter. Fortunately, the next mystical achievement of equal magnitude was a peaceful one, linking all crystals in the world together to form the Cosmos-Spanning Consortium.

Atomic bomb in The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump

Megasalamanders were weapons which could destroy entire cities in fire. Their power was extrapolated from that of ordinary salamanders.

Atomic Bomb in Crosstime Traffic

In the home timeline, the atomic bomb was used by an unknown terrorist organization to destroy Syria's capital Damascus in 2033.

Crosstime Traffic was aware at least one alternate where the atomic bomb was never developed. In that reality, the Soviet Union and the United States were fighting World War VI in the 2090s. Footage taken in this alternate was shown to Jeremy Solters and his fellow students in US history class.[1]

Conversely, there were several alternates where an atomic war took place in the 20th century. Explorers from the home timeline found that in some of these alternates the USSR had started the war whereas in others, the US had fired the first shots.[2] Some of these were in the process of getting back on their feet. Others were completely devoid of human life. In other alternates, China and Nazi Germany were responsible for starting a devastating nuclear war.

Atomic Bomb in Curious Notions

In the alternate designated by Crosstime Traffic as "3477", the atomic bomb was first developed by the German Empire in the late 1940s, with the help of Albert Einstein and other individuals who worked on the Manhattan Project in the home timeline. Germany dropped atomic bombs on a dozen cities on the first day of its war with the United States in 1956.

Atomic Bomb in The Disunited States of America

Most of the world possessed the atomic bomb by 2097, including the various North American countries. The bomb had been used in the past, but the world had avoided full-scale nuclear war.

Atomic Bomb in The Valley-Westside War

In 1967, a conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union led to an all-out war which saw the extensive usage of atomic weapons. The world was broken, with survivors reverting to semi-feudal societies.

Known cities destroyed by atom bombs

Atomic Bomb in "Down in the Bottomlands"

The starbomb was a superweapon developed by nearly a dozen countries around the planet. The Kingdom of Morgaf fought numerous wars with the Hereditary Tyranny of Tartesh during the modern age, but the two nations settled into an uneasy peace some 50 years after the invention of the starbomb.[3]

Atomic Bomb in "The Fillmore Shoggoth"

In the mid-20th Century, the United States was forced to destroy Sauk City, Wisconsin with atomic weapons after shoggoths attacked the town.

Atomic Bomb in The Hot War

In 1950, only two countries had atomic weapons in their arsenals: the United States and the Soviet Union. However, only the U.S. had actually used atomic weapons at that point, deploying them against Japan in August 1945, an act which effectively ended World War II. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, had just completed its first bomb in 1949. In December 1950, President Harry Truman, who made the decision to deploy the atom bomb five years before, was faced with the decision again after Chinese forces entered the Korean War and destroyed three divisions of U.S. troops.[4]

After a December, 1950 meeting with General Douglas MacArthur, and in light of the utter destruction of the three divisions, Truman authorized MacArthur to deploy atomic bombs against China if MacArthur concluded the situation could be improved no other way,[5] this despite Truman's misgivings that the Soviet Union might retaliate with atomic strikes in Europe.[6] That decision came on January 23, 1951, when several U.S. bombs were deployed against various cities in Manchuria.[7]

This decision ultimately triggered World War III, as Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, acting on behalf of his ally, China, ordered attacks in Britain, France and West Germany.[8] Throughout 1951 and into 1952, each side launched tit-for-tat bombings on strategic points within their respective spheres of influence.

Truman reflected that the current generation of bombs were bad enough but U.S. physicists were working on the next generation whose explosive explosive power would be measured in millions of tons of TNT not in thousands. He also feared that Stalin's physicists were as clever and would be working on the same technology.[9] In the end, the U.S. built the first hydrogen bomb, and successfully deployed it against Omsk when U.S. intelligence learned that Stalin was there.[10]

List of atomic bombs used

(year and country in parenthesis)

Atomic Bomb in The House of Daniel

In May 1934, while the House of Daniel stayed in Alamogordo, New Mexico, Jack Spivey had a strange dream. In the dream, the whole northern skyline exploded with light, the brightest light anywhere, brighter than the sun, brighter than anything. The roar that went with it sounded like the end of the world, and probably was, within the context of the dream. When Jack awoke, he had the word Trinity in his mind, a name which he felt would be more appropriate to think about in Las Cruces, whence he had just left, rather than Alamogordo.[11]

Atomic Bomb in In the Presence of Mine Enemies

The atomic bomb was first developed by the Greater German Reich with the aid of scientists including Werner Heisenberg. During the Third World War with the United States, Germany's use of atomic bombs proved decisive to victory. Philadelphia and Washington, DC were both destroyed with nuclear weapons.

Japan also had atomic bombs. Although Germany and Japan were allies, both realized that any war between them would destroy them both.

Atomic Bomb in Joe Steele

The atomic bomb was an idea that many scientists had theorized on in the years prior to World War II. Albert Einstein became aware of Germany's Hahn-Meitner experiments, involving the use of uranium as an explosive, that might have laid the foundation for such a weapon. However, he kept that information to himself, even after the United States had entered into the war in 1941, as President Joe Steele had already proven to be a tyrant since assuming office in 1933. Einstein saw that the bomb could benefit America's war effort, but did not trust Steele.

In early 1946, Steele was informed by Captain Hyman Rickover of the U.S. Navy about the Hahn-Meitner experiments. Steele summoned Einstein to the White House. When Steele asked about the German program, Einstein admitted that he'd learned of early experiments in 1938 or 1939. When Steele asked Einstein why he hadn't shared that information with the U.S. government, Einstein calmly responded that he was afraid Steele would build the bomb and use it.[12]

Steele proclaimed Einstein the "king of the wreckers", and ordered Einstein arrested on the spot. He was executed soon after. Once Einstein was gone, Steele asked Rickover if he could complete the project. Rickover promised to do his best. Steele also gave Rickover access to a number of people who'd already been placed in custody as wreckers. Steele cautioned that if any of these people did anymore wrecking, they would be eliminated.[13]

The first atomic bomb was used by the United States during the Japanese War. On the night of August 6, 1949, a flight of B-29s dropped an atomic bomb on Sendai, North Japan destroying it and the Red forces concentrated there.[14] In response, the Soviet Union destroyed Nagano, South Japan three days later with their own atomic bomb. This brought the Japanese War to an end.[15]

Not long after the Japanese War ended, Mao Tse-Tung and the Chinese Communist Party drove Chiang Kai-Shek and the Kuomintang out of mainland China. The U.S. had backed Chiang, and refused to recognize Mao. For a time, President Steele had considered using atomic bombs to support Chiang. However, the Soviet ambassador to the U.S., Andrei Gromyko, suggested that any U.S. atomic attack in China might be met with a Soviet atomic attack in Europe. Steele decided not to use atomics.[16]

Literary comment

In the short story, Edward Teller, rather than Hyman Rickover, is in charge of the U.S. atomic bomb project. Also, Sapporo, rather than Sendai, is the North Japanese city that is atom bombed.

Atomic Bomb in "The Last Word"

The Draka nuked most American cities during the Final War of 1998, with San Francisco being one of the last.

Literary comment

As most of the above happened in S.M. Stirling's stories, not Harry Turtledove's, a full list of cities is not presented here.

Atomic Bomb in The Man With the Iron Heart

The Atomic bomb was first developed and deployed by the United States against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945. This initially proved frustrating to Reinhard Heydrich, leader of the German Freedom Front in occupied Germany, who'd hoped that Japan's continued war would divert US assets from Germany.

Heydrich remembered that the German government had begun an atomic bomb project of its own during the war, a project which had received little funding and support from the government. Hoping to build his own bomb, Heydrich personally oversaw a mission to retake several German physicists from British custody. Despite this substantial braintrust, Heydrich didn't have the materials to build a working bomb. However, the scientists did remember that a quantity of radium had been left in a garbage dump in Hechingen, which the GFF used to destroy the American enclave in Frankfurt.

Opponents of American occupation in Germany used the atomic bomb as to help building their case for withdrawal, arguing that this weapon would be sufficient in holding down Germany should the Nazis rise again, or should the Soviet Union seek to expand its influence in Europe.

Atomic bomb in "Occupation Duty"

While other nations of the world debated the course of action to take over the Turks of Babylonia building a nuclear pile that could be used to construct nuclear weapons, the Philistinians "took the bull by the horns" and launched an air raid which destroyed the plant. The other nations, while professing to disapprove of this action, were relieved by the elimination of the potential menace.[17]

Atomic Bomb in "Ready for the Fatherland"

By 1979, the United States, the United Kingdom, Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union all had the sunbomb in their arsenals, although only two had ever been detonated. The first was used by the Soviet Union to destroy American-occupied Tokyo, Japan in a sneak attack in 1953. In response, the United States detonated a sunbomb on Vladivostok. If not for the death of Joseph Stalin and the intervention of German leader Eric von Manstein as a mediator, the incident would have escalated into a third world war.[18]

Atomic Bomb in Southern Victory

The superbomb, utilizing the nuclear fission of uranium or plutonium, was first theorized by European physicists. Impressed by the idea of its destructive power--and afraid of what would happen if their enemies developed it before they do--a number of nations sponsored programs to research and build these weapons, despite the high costs in terms of money, resources, and personnel these projects entail, and the inability of physicists to guarantee that such weapons could indeed and would indeed be built. These nations included the United States, the Confederate States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Japan, and Austria-Hungary. With the exception of Germany and Austria-Hungary, these nations were not interested in reducing the high costs of their programs by pooling their resources with allies, though all of them were allied with other nations with an interest in uranium bombs. Germany and the United States did share information about the bomb. Britain also provided information to the C.S. in exchange for C.S. rocket technology. Without that trade, the C.S. might not have even had the one bomb they built.

Germany won the race, completing a superbomb in late 1943 and using it to destroy the Russian capital, Petrograd, the following year. Six additional bombings and counter-bombings took place throughout Europe until the war ended. In North America, the superbomb was used three times. The first was by the Confederate States in an attack against Philadelphia. The second and third were U.S. attacks on Newport News and Charleston.

Towards the end of the Second Great War, the theoretical possibility of an even more powerful "sunbomb" based on the nuclear fusion of hydrogen became apparent to U.S. and Confederate physicists alike. Actual work started in the U.S. in 1944.

After the war the Confederate nuclear program was shut down, and its scientists co-opted by the US. As Britain was not defeated and occupied, their program was still viable. Moreover, Japan and Russia were known to be working projects of their own. At his inauguration speech in 1945, U.S. President Thomas Dewey announced a doctrine wherein the US and Germany would act as global police, to prevent additional nations from building a bomb, while keeping tight regulations on those that had already built and deployed one.

List of superbombs used

(year and user nation in parentheses)

Atomic Bomb in Supervolcano

When the United States was weakened by the Yellowstone Supervolcano eruption and could not protect Israel, Iran took an opportunity to launch a nuclear strike against its traditional enemy, expecting a quick and easy victory. This proved a mistake; while Iran was able to destroy Tel Aviv, Israel was able to respond in kind doubly by striking both Tehran and Qom.[19]

List of atomic bombs used

(user nation in parentheses)

Atomic Bomb in The War That Came Early

Based on information that had leaked out of Germany, Albert Einstein and other scientists convinced the government of the United States to attempt to build a new type of bomb powerful enough to level a whole city lest the Nazis did it first. However, by 1942, the project, headquartered in Tennessee, had cost millions with nothing to show for it. Herb Druce convinced the government to shut the project down.[20]

While the war in Europe did end in 1944 when the Nazis were overthrown by the Committee for the Salvation of the German Nation, Einstein was still concerned that the more rational German government might see the potential in an atomic bomb and begin building one. He began investigating the identity of the person who'd killed the American project, and finally learned Herb Druce's name. He personally went to the home of Peggy Druce, Herb's ex-wife, and expressed his concerns. Peggy gave Einstein Herb's new address.[21]

Atomic Bomb in Worldwar

Explosive-metal bombs were the weapons which held the key to war begun when the Race invaded Earth in 1942. At the outset of the conflict, only the Race possessed them, and detonated several high in the Earth's atmosphere in an effort to disrupt Tosevite radio signals. Fleetlord Atvar also used them to destroy the cities of Berlin and Washington, DC early in the war.

Unbeknownst to the Conquest Fleet when it arrived, humans had already discovered the divisibility of the atom and the tremendous energy yield it could produce. Most of the major combatants in the interrupted World War II had begun programs to build such weapons.

The Soviet Union struck first when they built a bomb using plutonium captured in the destruction of one of the Race's starships. They buried this bomb under a stretch of line they controlled near Kaluga, then withdrew. When the Race took possession of this area, they detonated the bomb via radio. Since the Race enjoyed air supremacy, this became the humans' preferred tactic for delivering the bomb. It was used by both the United States and Germany when each of those countries developed bombs entirely of their own manufacture.

By the end of the war, the US, the USSR, and Germany had all learned to build explosive-metal bombs on their own. Though reluctant to risk rendering the planet uninhabitable, Atvar retaliated to each human bomb by destroying a city in any nation that used such a weapon, each time it did so. He also destroyed Tokyo, thus precluding the Japanese from building a bomb before the end of the war (though they did succeed in building one in 1965) The Race also destroyed Sydney and Melbourne in Australia with explosive-metal weapons to break the back of the Australian resistance.

These tactics did not deter the atomic-capable human governments, which were engaged in a war for survival. Eventually Atvar was forced to negotiate with these governments, creating the uneasy truce which would exist on Earth for decades to come.

Concurrent with the Peace of Cairo, German SS commando Otto Skorzeny smuggled an explosive-metal bomb into the Race-controlled Polish city of Lodz at the behest of Adolf Hitler with orders to detonate the bomb and force the return of Poland to German control. He was prevented from doing so by Russian pilot Ludmila Gorbunova; Jewish militia leader Mordechai Anielewicz; and Panzer colonel Heinrich Jäger, an old comrade of Skorzeny's from many a mission against the Race. With their plan foiled, Germany agreed to let the Race remain in Poland.

Anielewicz's militia took possession of the bomb and continued to control it, with the tacit approval of the Race, for twenty years, despite serious doubts about the continued serviceability of the bomb in the absence of technical maintenance. In the chaos during and after the Race-German War of 1965, the bomb came into the possession of renegade Jewish fundamentalists who smuggled it into Germany with the intent of detonating it as punishment for Germany's genocide of the Jews. Anielewicz commanded a joint task force of Germans and Lizards and appeared to convince the renegades to yield, but in fact the renegades had tried to detonate the bomb and found that it was not in working condition.

In the next twenty years, human explosive-metal weapons improved. Most importantly, they were coupled with rocket technology to create nuclear missiles, allowing the human powers to use these weapons against the Race's orbital starships. These weapons were used many times both on land and in space in the 1960s: by the United States in President Earl Warren's attack on the Colonization Fleet; by the Race in its retaliatory attack on Indianapolis; and by both sides in the Race-German War of 1965. They were even carried aboard the Admiral Peary when it journeyed to the Tau Ceti system.

List of explosive-metal weapons used

(year and user nation in parentheses)

Before the Peace of Cairo

After the Peace of Cairo

See also


  1. Gunpowder Empire, pg. 12.
  2. The Valley-Westside War, pg. 258
  3. See, e.g., We Install and Other Stories, loc., 2785, ebook.
  4. Bombs Away, pg. 10, HC.
  5. Ibid., pg. 41.
  6. Ibid., pg. 10.
  7. Ibid., pg. 55-61.
  8. Ibid., pg. 65.
  9. Ibid., pgs. 196-198.
  10. Armistice, pgs. 69-78, ebook.
  11. The House of Daniel, pg. 128.
  12. Joe Steele, pgs. 317-319, HC.
  13. Ibid., pgs. 319-320.
  14. Ibid.,, pgs. 366-369, HC.
  15. Ibid. pg. 371, HC.
  16. Ibid, pg. 376-377.
  17. See e.g.: Atlantis and Other Places, pg. 252, HC
  18. See, e.g., Counting Up, Counting Down, tpb, pg. 92.
  19. Eruption, pg. 325.
  20. Two Fronts, pgs. 273-275.
  21. Last Orders, pgs. 398-400.