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On April 26, 1986 at 01:23 a.m., an explosion occured in which would lead to the worst nuclear disaster this world has ever known. Chernobyl is a nuclear power plant in Ukraine. This power plant is located outside of Pripyat, Ukraine. This plant failed on a regular test which led to many horrific irreversible effects. Many tragic events such as this one influence science fiction novels. This event has aided in the formation of ideas for Nuclear Science Fiction by providing a basis to create the fictional tragedy around. It is hard to think of such a more terrible event in the history of nuclear accidents that has contributed to the formation of many 'tragedies' in Science Fiction. The effects and symbolism of this event can be identified in many readings.



Chernobyl had a RBMK-type reactor design that used graphite to slow down atoms in order to split them. The generator, during a routine test, had sharply increased power by about 120 times its maximum. This resulted in two explosions. [1] These explosions led to the meltdown of reactor number four. It created a pit of burning graphite and uranium. Reactor number four then released radiation into the air and the land. [2] The amount of radiation put into the environment equaled 40 to 60 times the amount of radiation in the bomb at Hiroshima. No one can truly know the final death toll of this disaster as the effects are still being felt today. Most people have relocated never to return. Only a small amount of people have moved back after 20 years of the city being so desolate. Despite the disaster, the Chernobyl plant was put back into operation but slowly was shut down in 2000 because it was too unsafe. [3]

Connection To Tropes

Machine Labor

  • Chernobyl was a machine made to aid the residents in Ukraine with power. Along with aiding them with power, it also ruined the local community. It left the city of Pripyat in ruins. This machine labor has both aided and hindered the residents of Ukraine. This historical event explores both the aid and hindrance of machines and the labor they provide us.

Proposed Trope: Machines are Sweet and Sour!!

  • Chernobyl applies to this trope because it shows how machines can be useful and hurtful at the same time. This reactor, a type of machine, allows for the creation and distribution of energy to a large area of Ukraine. Because it allows people to have access to the energy it creates, it is beneficial or "sweet" to these people. It also exploded and created lots of radiation which destroyed the city for many years. Because of this destruction of land and people, it can be seen as sour.

How does technology re-arrange communities? How do communities re-arrange technology?

  • The disaster at Chernobyl had a very large effect on the community surrounding it. Many people died or got radiation poisoning from the accident. People evacuated the area, and it has not been significantly populated since. The technology that people used to create useful energy entirely changed that area. This shows some of the negative effects that technology can have and the dangers of technology. People have always worried about technology turning against them, and this is the exact kind of result that many of them fear.

Connection To Readings


  • This historical event is not directly responsible for the creation of Frankenstein because it happened after the book was written; however, one way to read Frankenstein on a more scientific level is that one must be careful what he creates. The monster that was created eventually caused his creator lots of pain. Chernobyl relates in the same way in that it causes mass destruction to those who created it and to those who benefited from it. It was made to create power for everyone but instead killed many people. The tragedies in both stories share very similar characteristics.

The Roads Must Roll

  • This story also relates to the historical event of Chernobyl in that a large portion of the residents in America could have been in trouble with the failure of the roads. This machine labor was shut down by an attack of some of the workers. When the roads are shut down, their is a danger that they might collapse due to the weight. Also, the road that was shut down cause many issues to the residents on it. Chernobyl is a very similar disaster in that it was caused by a shut down of the nuclear reactor in a test. Many people did die from this failure of the nuclear reactor. Both events show that if machine labor, no matter how safe it seems, can fail and lead to catastrophe.

The Machine Stops

  • This story is based on a large machine that performs everyday tasks for its occupants. Most of the world lives in conjunction with this machine. The machine slowly degrades and ends up killing everyone that resides within it. Just like this machine, Chernobyl also performed takes to provide power, but then broke down and killed many of the residents in the area. Both events aided the residents and then turned and caused destruction to the residents. Both events show that machine labor, being more efficient and luxurious, is not as safe and reliable as physical labor.


  1. "Chernobyl: A Nuclear Disaster." Oracle ThinkQuest Library. Web. 08 Mar. 2010. <>.
  2. "Lost City of Chernobyl." English Russia. Web. 08 Mar. 2010. <>.
  3. "Chernobyl'" - Our Newest Linux Distributions. Web. 08 Mar. 2010. <>.
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