Sky Ships Over Cashiers

Sydney Sheldon (1917-2007) is the most translated author in the world.  He’s written 18 bestseller novels and won an Emmy, an Oscar and a Tony for his film and television scripts.  Even young people today may have seen reruns of his “I Dream of Jeannie” television show which won him an Emmy.

Though he’s a fiction writer, he gave us more than a spy thriller when he wrote “The Sky is Falling.” He gave us a glimpse into a real secret underground city in Russia which he confirms to be real in his author’s note at the end of the book. – The editor

Author’s note at end of “The Sky is Falling”

“This is a work of fiction, but the secret underground city of Krasnoyarsk-26 is real, one of thirteen closed cities engaged in nuclear production.  Krasnoyarsk-26 is located in central Siberia, two-thousand miles from Moscow, and since its creation in 1958, it has produced more than forty-five tons of weapons-grade plutonium.  Although two of its plutonium-producing reactors were shut down in 1992, one remains active, currently producing half a ton of plutonium a year, which can be used to make atomic bombs.

“There have been reported thefts of plutonium, and the United States Energy Department is working with the Russian government on increased security measures to protect nuclear material.”

Excerpts from chapter 22 of the book
Photos of the real Krasnoyarsk-26 have been added.

● They debarked from the train and started toward an odd-shaped cement building one hundred yards away.  In front of the building stood two forbidding-looking barbed-wire fences, patrolled by heavily armed soldiers.● To Dana’s astonishment the structure they entered was the top of an elevator station that went below ground. . . Dana looked at him incredulously. “We’re going six hundred feet under a mountain?  Why?  What’s down there?”

● They stepped out of the elevator and had walked no more than twenty feet when Dana stopped in shock.  She found herself looking down the street of a modern city, with shops and restaurants and theaters.  Men and women were walking along the sidewalks, and Dana suddenly realized that no one was wearing an overcoat.

● “Krasnoyarsk-26’s sole purpose for existing is to make plutonium.  One hundred thousand scientists and technicians live and work here, Miss Evans.  In the beginning, they were given the finest food and clothes and housing. But they are all here with one restriction . . . They must agree never to leave. . . They cannot go outside.  Ever.  They must cut themselves off completely from the rest of the world.”● There were three giant reactors housed in the immense cave. . . “The machines in this room can produce enough plutonium to make an atomic bomb every three days.”

● “Because of the state of the Russian economy, there is no longer the money to pay the scientists and technicians who work here. . . You see the paradox?  The amount of plutoniumstored here is worth untold billions of dollars, yet the people who created it have nothing and are starting to go hungry.”

● “. . . and his partner collaborated with some of the rebel scientists and began smuggling plutonium to a dozen countries, including Libya, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, North Korea, and China.”
NOTE:The name “Krasnoyarsk-26” is actually a postal code that refers to an area some miles away from the surface city of Krasnoyarsk.