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Chernobyl: A Novel
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Chernobyl: A Novel

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  154 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Chernobyl: The very name conjures the catastrophe that the world feared could happen someday at a nuclear power plant. On April 26, 1986, a power surge caused the core of one of the reactors to explode, spewing a cloud of radioactive steam into the air. More than four thousand people died, as many as a half-million suffered potentially cancer-causing exposure, and the city ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published June 17th 2014 by Tor Books (first published August 1st 1987)
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Denis
Frederik Pohl, primarily a SF author and editor, writes a timely dramatization of the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl with excellent skill.

Though based on immediate history (the book was published only a year after the disaster) it is not a science fiction story but due to the subject matter and the general knowledge of such things, it might as well be.

After reading this novel, I am in no way a nuclear physicist but I certainly do understand better how these facilities function based on their pri
...more
Bob Jr.
It's my expectations that lead me to a 3 star rating. (That and my general tendency to give 3 stars to books I enjoyed, but won't be interested in reading again.)

The book itself is excellent - well written, researched and constructed - however it IS a work of fiction. While the details of the event itself are as faithful as they could be given the book was written only a year after the events at Chernobyl, the characters are all fictional, their trials and tribulations rendered - for me - somew
...more
Wendy Bousfield


Pohl’s fictionalized version of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster was published in September 1987, the year after the event. In an “Afterword,” Pohl explains that Gorbachev ’s policy of glasnost facilitated his research. With the assistance of the Union of Soviet Writers, Pohl interviewed “scores of people with direct knowledge of the Chernobyl accident, journalists, eyewitnesses, firemen who fought to control the damage, nuclear experts who were on the scene and many others” (355). Pohl’s characte
...more
Tony
Although this is a work of historical fiction, much of the details are taken from the public record about the nuclear accident at Chernobyl. Much of the story rings true. The novel only covers about 27 days, so the book, published in timely fashion in 1987, cannot pretend to provide a full perspective on the accident, nor a consideration of the full tally of death and disease that were caused by the accident, over the years and decades following the release of radiation. Indeed, Pohl's point is ...more
David King
This novel is a fictionalisation of the accident that destroyed the number four reactor at Chernobyl. The novel touches on various aspects of the accident, from the initial testing that caused the explosion in the reactor right through to some of the political outcomes in the Soviet Union. Along the way, we get to see the heroic efforts of those who tried to stop the accident getting worse alongside the evacuation and fears of the everyday citizen from the local town of Pripyat to the city of Ki ...more
Kasey Jane
I listened to the abridged audiobook.

I'll have a hard time giving a fair review, since the World Market Thrift only had the abridged version of this book. As it stands, I think Pohl did a fine job recreating the political atmosphere that led up to the Chernobyl disaster. The explosion and subsequent mitigation efforts were gripping without falling into over-dramatization.

The audio quality wasn't great. I'm not sure if the narrator was really uneven or if the mixing was poor, but the book jumped
...more
Travis Pratt
Feb 20, 2008 Travis Pratt rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
This was an amazing book. There really is so much more to the story than most people would ever know. I know that it is fictionalization, but a lot of research went in to it and it is based on the actual time line of events. I really got into the topic during the 20th anniversary in April of 2006.

"And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of the waters; and the name of the
...more
Sharon
A novel based on events of the Chernobyl meltdown. In parts really good and in parts somewhat tedious if you don't understand the Russian government of the time and of their past one hundred years for that matter.I generally enjoy historical events more when written in fictional form with characters and dialog so I gave this one a shot and I have to say VOICES FROM CHERNOBYL which is nonfiction was a much better read with actual accounts and genuine feelings and emotions. Not a bad book for acqu ...more
Demian Katz
Dec 19, 2008 Demian Katz rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Pohl fans and anyone interested in the disaster
I'm a big fan of Frederik Pohl's science fiction, so I was interested to see how he would approach fictionalizing a historical incident. As it turns out, he did an excellent job of it -- a diverse cast of characters helps put the disaster in context from a variety of angles, chapter-heading factual blurbs provide interesting background information directly without wasting time on artificial exposition, and there pace keeps the pages turning throughout. Definitely worth a look; the educational as ...more
Nicola
As a novel, this book is interesting and readable with the author doing a great job of making the reader sympathise and understand the characters portrayed. As a novel based on factual details, it's terrifying, as it shows how easily human error can lead to disaster and how little time it takes to do so.
Diane
This is a good way to get a feel for what happened at Chernobyl without reading "dry" history. It's in story form with "ficticious characters".
Be warned Pohl gets more than a little political at the end but I enjoyed understanding what happened at the Nuclear plant when it melt-down.
A.c. Crispin
Fascinating book. I read it partly for entertainment, partly because Frederick Pohl did such extensive research to write this novel, and it relates to my the novel I'm just starting.

So reading it was sort of painless research.
Mike
I expected this to be cheesy, but it was surprisingly good. This book tells the story of Chernobyl, but with fictional characters. Well paced and interesting.
Dave
Well researched historical fiction, lengthy, but great description, action and characters, and very satisfying historical accuracy.
Sheila
Lots of food for thought - I wish there was a follow up book on the consequences. Well worth reading.
Luigi
These things do happen
Jen
Pohl's book is a novelization of the Chernobyl 1986 nuclear power plant accident. It's a little dry, and it's difficult to know, without doing my own research, what's based on fact and what's extrapolated and fictionalized. It's definitely worth reading, though, for those of us who came of age as the Cold War was ending and knew the Soviet Union as the Bad Guy in those days. Characters are well developed and details surrounding the accident are sufficient to make me want to look for more informa ...more
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Frederik George Pohl, Jr. was an American science fiction writer, editor & fan, with a career spanning over seventy years. From about 1959 until 1969, Pohl edited "Galaxy" magazine and its sister magazine "IF", winning the Hugo for "IF" three years in a row. His writing also won him three Hugos and multiple Nebula Awards. He became a Nebula Grand Master in 1993.
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