Theodore Sturgeon's "Thunder and Roses" (novelette, nuclear apocalypse, free): Finding hope for humanity in an angry world
In Clarke's version, US has destroyed USSR. A USSR crack team capable of punitive retaliation is stopped to give humanity a chance, even if it's without USSR.
In Sturgeon's version, it's US that is annihilated by unnamed enemies. And while there is enough ammunition to retaliate, there are survivors awaiting imminent death that are working to give humanity a chance - even if it will be without the US.
Title comes from the lyrics of a song I'm unfamiliar with:
"When you gave me your heart, you gave me the world,
You gave me the night and the day,
And thunder, and roses, and sweet green grass,
The sea, and soft wet clay."
- David Drake, Jim Baen, & Eric Flint (Ed)'s "The World Turned Upside Down".
- John W Campbell, Jr (ed)'s "The Astounding Science Fiction Anthology".
Fact sheet.First published: Astounding Science Fiction, November 1947.
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Related: All stories of Theodore Sturgeon.