Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2020 February 19 • Wednesday

The Murder of the U.S.A. by Murray Leinster under the pen name Will F. Jenkins, is a short, quick read.

It begins with atomic war. An unknown enemy launches hundreds of missiles at the United States, wiping out every city and every other place of significance. When the Secretary of Agriculture, the only surviving cabinet member, foolishly signals his location, declaring it to be the new national capital, a missile immediately strikes there.

The survivors are almost all in one of numerous Burrows, underground missile launching stations designed for complete self-sufficiency. You could live down there forever. Enough food is grown there, there are shops and even tennis courts. And of course there are missiles, lots of missiles, for retaliatory strike against any nation that launches such a strike first against the US.

The other countries of the world had also agreed to retaliate on behalf of the United States. But retaliate against whom? Nobody knows who perpetrated the attack.

And in the other cities of the world, fear of another such attack has cause panic and hysteria, resulting in massive destruction and the deaths of hundred of thousands of people scramblng for escape.

So in a sense, as our heroes attempt to discover, from their underground sanctuary in Burrow 89, the identity of the mass murderer, The Murder of the U.S.A. is an extreme example of an armchair detective mystery.

Time is a factor as well. The Burrows are also being targeted and destroyed as the enemy discovers their locations, through networks of spies. Burrow 89 does not remain a secret and while they ingeniously fend off the first attack, they won't be able to repel every such offensive action.

Add to this the coming of the Perseid meteors, which can provide interference and noise for their detection technology, and excellent cover for incoming bombs and missiles...

A decent read, nothing great, but certainly unusual in concept, presumable originally published complete in one issue of a science fiction magazine, The Murder of the U.S.A. is dedicated by its author to the writer and editor John Campbell.

The first line is "More than a third of the people of the United States never knew anything about the war—not even that it had happened".