A science-fiction author who popularized monsters featured in the Fallout 76 video game also penned a story set in a future West Virginia that survives a nuclear apocalypse.
Both the story and the game take place in versions of central Appalachia insulated by mountain ranges that protect it from atomic blasts — explosions that decimate eastern cities nearby, including Pittsburgh, Columbus, Oh., and Washington, D.C.
Ted Fauster, author of "Cullen McGregor's Last Hunt," says he recognized the state as ideal for survivalist fiction while collecting mountain tales near Rainelle, West Virginia, in 1996.
"I once commented about the mountains to a soldier I met, and he told me West Virginians were the luckiest people in the country. When I asked why, he said, 'Nuclear blasts can't penetrate these mountains. They're too hilly. Any blast would just get trapped in some holler.'
"That really got my wheels spinning," said Fauster, who continues to publish fantasy-fiction.
The tale of the survivor of a nuclear blast, "Cullen McGregor's Last Hunt" placed third in the short-story category at the 2009 ConDFW, an annual fantasy and science-fiction literary convention in Dallas, Texas.
Fauster published "Cullen McGregor" at Amazon in 2014, during which time he also published an article at West Virginia Explorer that investigates legendary creatures — "Five monsters from the West Virginia hills."
The West Virginia Explorer website is a chief source of state tourism information and facts for Fallout players interested in the state's history and geography. Some sources speculate the article helped inspire game developers, though Bethesda Softworks, the publisher, has never confirmed its sources. Several million players are expected to purchase the game.
Many federal facilities have been located in West Virginia as a result of its proximity to Washington, D.C., and the protection provided by intervening mountain ranges, which rise to more than 4,000 feet above sea level in the highest of the Allegheny Mountains of eastern West Virginia. Several are also featured in the Fallout game.
The Green Bank Observatory, Sugar Grove U.S. Naval Station, and the Congressional bunker at The Greenbrier were located here as a result. The National Radio Quiet Zone, centered over the Allegheny Mountains of the eastern state, insulates the region from radio interference.
Fauster has re-published his book "West Virginia Monsters: Imagined Monsters and Supernatural Creatures from the Mountain State" on Kindle here.
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