Five unauspicious words
"Huh, that name sounds familiar."
Which is what I said to myself the other day after I found a Google video of one of my favorite films, "Crack in The World". Great special effects, magnificent soundtrack, piss-poor science but still, a cool movie nevertheless.
So I'm watching the credits with that great "Crack in The World March" theme in the background, and I see the story and screenplay are attributed to one "Jon Manchip White". "Huh", I says, "that name sounds familiar".
Well, the reason it sounded familiar, I find out, is not because he was a SF writer as I thought at first.
No, it was because he was a co-writer of a slimy little screed called What To Do When The Russians Come: A Survivor's Guide. which reads like little more than a script for "Red Dawn". It's really too bad the Amazon listing doesn't include a summary; basically it's standard Cold War dreck, painting the Red Army as a unstoppable mechanized juggernaut rolling over the Free World and therefore the best we can hope for is to take advice from this book on how to survive the hellish Soviet system, at least until the True Patriots rise and overthrow their dark Satanic Communist masters and free people can breathe freely again in a free country. Anecdotes from the Stalinist era are passed off as characteristic of modern-day Russia, Stalin is treated as a archetypal Soviet leader, and every cheesy stereotype of Russians is dragged out by Conquest & White and put on display.
Funniest part? The fact that, as this book was being released in 1984 (!), the real-life Red Army was bogged down in Afghanistan, right on the Soviet border, by rag-tag partisans and holy warriors. To some extent, exactly what they'd have faced in America. Oops.
As I said (more or less) in a review I wrote when I first read it, "The last words in the book are 'If the aforementioned comes to pass, BURN THIS BOOK after reading it.' Myself, I was ready to burn it to begin with, just in case."
That'll teach me to look things up. Yes, there are indeed Things Man Was Not Meant To Know.
EDIT: No wonder Robert Conquest was writing about Russia from a Stalin-era point of view - it was pretty much his obsession. I see he was still writing after the pullout from Afghanistan and the fall of the Warsaw Pact & Soviet Union; one wonders if he ever got around to admitting he might have been overstating things a bit that the Soviets could have successfully invaded and occupied the United States. Somehow I don't think so.