Level 7 is the diary of Officer X-127, who is assigned to the country’s deepest bomb shelter housing important military personnel and equipment. For security reasons those who go down, stay down.
Four thousand feet away from sunshine, Level 7 is considered secure from the most devastating attack and has been prepared to be self-sufficient for five hundred years. Marriages are made in this inverted heaven; food is taken in the form of pulp and pills. All is ordained by the god Loudspeaker which, unseen and omnipresent, voices commands for the good of its creatures.
The duty of Officer X-127 is to stand guard at the Pushbuttons, a machine devised to rocket instant atomic destruction toward the enemy. There are pushbuttons 1, 2, 3, and 4. Pushbutton 4 is final, complete, total devastation.
“Powerful, deeply imaginative, haunting…. The best comment there has been so far on the ghastly imbecility of nuclear armaments.”
“No one can read Level 7 without feeling its gravest warning.”
—N.Y. Herald Tribune
“This story gives the most realistic picture of nuclear war that I have read in any work of fiction.”
Originally published in 1959, and with more than 400,000 copies sold, this powerful dystopian novel remains a horrific vision of where the nuclear arms race may lead and is an affirmation of human life and love. Level 7 merits comparison to Huxley’s A Brave New World and Orwell’s 1984 and should be considered a must-read by all science fiction fans.
“Eventually, I believe, Roshwald’s remorseless apocalypse will be recognized as one of the masterpieces of anti-utopian literature.”
—H. Bruce Franklin
Mordecai Roshwald is professor emeritus of humanities at the University of Minnesota and a visiting professor at many universities worldwide.