Books: Fold, Spindle & Mutilate

THE 480 by Eugene Burdick. 313 pages. McGraw-Hill. $5.

Science fiction has all but expired, trampled to death by onrushing reality. Its successor is what might be called political-science fiction. Its practitioners aspire to write tomes that seem just like historical novels, but in the future tense. Seven Days in May, Fail-Safe, On the Beach—they have gone from Ugly to worse and from ad hoc to pure hokum. Right along with them has gone Eugene Burdick, co-author (with different partners) of both The Ugly American and Fail-Safe, and he now tries it solo.

Burdick's...

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