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Chernobyl: A Novel

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  241 Ratings  ·  33 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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Mar 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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) and 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 pr
Rebecca McNutt
A quaint little city of industry, Chernobyl, located in Pripyat, is an ideal home for the many workers and their families at the huge power plant there. However, when disaster strikes and a raging meltdown ravages everything, life as they know it is never the same. Chernobyl is a dark but incredible story that gives a voice to those involved.
Wendy Bousfield
Apr 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chernobyl

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
Pedro Enguita
Un buen libro que narra con bastante precisión lo sucedido durante el accidente de Chernobyl, sin caer en el catastrofismo ni minimizar lo ocurrido. Está narrado de forma sencilla pero bastante efectiva, muy al estilo de Pohl.
Aug 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, science, 2016
I've been fascinated by the Chernobyl disaster since I was a kid. I remember seeing the news alert when the news finally broke, and since it was in the middle of the Cold War, it was big, frightening news. Since then, I've read up on it here and there, getting a clearer picture of the disaster and its tragedy. When I saw that there was a novelization of the event, I thought it would be worth reading.

The story of the Chernobyl disaster, like the one of the sinking of the Titanic, is a natural hum
Dec 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
¿Qué le dice un padre a su hijita cuando la lleva a cierta colina? Dice: «No tengas miedo, palomita. Bajo esta colina hay enterrada una vieja central nuclear, pero es perfectamente segura.» Y entonces, cuando la asustada niñita no quiere subir a la loma, ¿qué le dice? Le dice: «Vamos, si no pasa nada. Mira, si estás asustada, dame la mano. Muy bien, ahora dame la otra. ¿Ves como no pasa nada? Ahora dame la tercera.»
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
This book made me itch.
Some parts contain surprisingly sensible and acute observations of the Soviet reality, others are too close to bloodlust KGB horror stories and that cheerless stuff about vodka and queues.
It seemed to me that Pohl just liked the look of the word "comrade". Do the Americans really say "Mister Deputy Director Smith" every time addressing to a person? The Soviet people definitely didn't.
Calling the first liquidators idiots made my toes curl. Yes, they wasn't quite aware of
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
Travis Pratt
Feb 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 14, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Once I got over all the technical information (which kinda goes in one ear and out the other with me ... or maybe in this case, in one eye and out the other) in the beginning of the book, it turned into a pretty good read. It reads as factual - whether it is or not. The afterword from Pohl does help put a period on the end of the book as relates to the politics, but doesn't say much about Chernobyl in the later years. I was surprised to find this was pretty much the only non-scientific book out ...more
Liebes Buch
Der bekannte SF-Autor Frederik Pohl hat 1987 diesen Roman zur Tschernobyl Katastrophe veröffentlicht.
Der Leser erlebt das Unglück mit der Figur des stellvertretenden Direktors des Kernkraftwerks, mit seiner Familie und weiteren Figuren. Darunter einem Ehepaar aus den USA, das sich auf einer Reise in Russland befindet.
Die Geschichte ist ruhig und nicht reisserisch, enthält viele Informationen und sogar eine Portion Humor. Pohl konzentriert sich nicht allein auf die Katastrophe im Reaktor, sondern
Sep 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
grace sloan
Look, I had to read this book for a school assignment. Let me tell you, I've been forced to read some pretty boring things in high school, but this just might take the cake. Is it the complete lack of climax that's making me give this book two stars? Or maybe how this author has a special talent of making a fiction book seem like nonfiction? I can't say. Both are compelling arguments.
What I can say is this: if you like dramatizations of history with very, very little drama, this book is perfect
Demian Katz
Dec 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Oct 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Chernobyl" by Frederik Pohl is historical fiction about a U.S.S.R town that had a nuclear power plant. People fear radiation and this true story is based on the event that happened on April 26,1986. It is known as the worst disaster of the nuclear age. A power surge caused one of the cores of the Soviet power plant to explode. A toxic cloud of radioactive steam traveled into the Ukrainian air. This caused people to die, get very ill from radiation poisoning, or get cancer.
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.
Sep 06, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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.
Rory Tregaskis
Mar 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not sure nuclear power is such a good idea now.
Eric Layton
Myeh... it was OK.
Jen Tirdel
Really good. Learned a lot about Chernobyl I didn't know before. Well written.
Oct 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These things do happen
Sep 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well researched historical fiction, lengthy, but great description, action and characters, and very satisfying historical accuracy.
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lots of food for thought - I wish there was a follow up book on the consequences. Well worth reading.
Carlos Murguia
Jun 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La falta de moral del pueblo en la URSS y la intervención de los burócratas en las decisiones técnicas llevaron a esta catástrofe. Una mala novela pero una gran reseña de un evento histórico.
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Frederik George Pohl, Jr. was an American science fiction writer, editor and 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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