|Cover artist||Dmitri Ezepov|
|Series||The Hot War|
|Publication date||July 19, 2016|
|Preceded by||Bombs Away|
Fallout begins in June 1951, in the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Paris, and ends in May 1952. The Soviet Union and its allies advance through West Germany in spite of heavy resistance from NATO forces.
Despite his crew's status as heroes, Tu-4 pilot Boris Gribkov is beginning to feel guilt about his role in the destruction of two old European capitals. His navigator, Leonid Tsederbaum, feels the guilt more, and commits suicide. This act places Gribkov and his crew under a cloud.
The strikes are witnessed by the point of view characters on the front lines: Gustav Hozzel, Konstantin Morozov, Ihor Shevchenko, and Isztvan Szolovits. The American nuclear strikes in West Germany are largely successful, as they devastate the Soviet Union's front lines. Morozov and his crew suffer a bout of radiation sickness. The Red Army and its allies are forced to begin a tactical retreat, allowing NATO forces to push the front eastward.
Following the attacks, Truman makes a public announcement calling for both sides to pull their forces back to the 1950 borders and declare the war a draw. Elsewhere in the U.S., Aaron Finch and his family try to get about the business of maintaining a normal existence on the outskirts of atom-bombed Los Angeles. Marian Staley and her daughter, Linda, are able to leave their refugee camp in Washington after Staley receives her husband's death benefits, making her way to Weed, California.
In Korea, Cade Curtis continues to rise through the ranks thanks to attrition. That front continues to go badly. Luisa Hozzel, wife of Gustav Hozzel, is arrested by the Soviet authorities and sent to a prison camp in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast in Siberia. Vasili Yasevich, on the run from China, also arrives in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, and takes up residence in Smidovich. While he takes advantage of the chaos of war to lie about his past, his own behavior soon convinces everyone that he's not been a citizen of the Soviet Union for his whole life. In the Fakenham, U.K., widow Daisy Baxter finds happiness with American flyer Bruce McNulty.
In revenge for the destruction of Soviet advance, Stalin orders atomic attacks on U.S. forces in South Korea, wiping out Pusan and Chongju. This, in addition to the earlier destruction of the all of major ports of the U.S. West Coast and the Panama Canal, leaves the American situation in Korea desperate. Cade Curtis survives, and receives another promotion. Soon enough, the U.S. situation becomes so desperate that South Korean troops are brought in to fill in the lines.
In September 1951, the Soviets destroy the air force base at Sculthorpe, United Kingdom; the resulting atomic blast also destroys nearby town of Fakenham; Daisy Baxter survives, but loses her home and bar, and suffers with radiation poisoning. A few weeks later, Boris Gribkov, no longer under a cloud, is ordered to destroy Antwerp, Belgium, which had served as a major logistical base for the NATO war effort.
Both powers start suffering internal problems. Truman, tired of the mounting criticism from the Republican Party, and Senator Joseph McCarthy in particular, and overwhelmed by the stress of the war, announces he will not run for re-election in 1952. The Soviets, already struggling with the devastation of their economy and infrastructure due to the destruction of nearly all of their major cities, face armed uprisings in Hungary and Slovakia against the Communist governments, forcing them to divert troops from their frontlines to put down these rebellions. Determined to crush any dissent, Stalin orders the city of Bratislava carpet-bombed but refrains from using nuclear weapons, electing to conserve the Soviet Union's remaining nuclear arsenal. Boris Gribkov participates in this mission, and is forced to bail out after his plane is hit by flak.
Meanwhile, the Red Army's manpower shortage continues to worsen due to the massive losses sustained in the war, leading to speculation that senior members of the Communist party may have to be drafted if the war lasts much longer. Isztvan Solovits is captured, and sent to a POW camp in Lyon, happy to no longer be in the war.
With the uprisings in Eastern Europe and the Red Army in retreat, Truman believes that the war may have finally turned in favor of the allies. After secretly developing the ability to refuel their bombers in-flight (and thereby extend their range), the Soviets launch an attack on the American East Coast in May 1952, catching the United States completely off-guard. New York, Boston and Washington are devastated in the attacks. The federal government is almost completely wiped out. So many Senators and Representatives are killed that neither Congressional house can hold a quorum. Most of the candidates seeking the presidency in both parties are killed as well. Truman, who happened to be in Buffalo, New York on the date of the attack, survives, but his wife and daughter are dead.
Tragedy strikes at the micro-level as well. Gustav Hozzel is killed during a shelling; Rolf Mehlen replaces him as POV. After getting better throughout September and into May, Daisy Baxter appears to become a casualty of a Soviet air raid over the U.K.
On the other hand, Marian Staley finds herself more involved in her adopted community of Weed, and becomes closer to Fayvl Tabakman, a friend from Oregon. Vasili Yasevich, increasingly disenchanted with his adopted country, aids a German woman's escape from the same prison camp where Luisa Hozzel is an inmate.
The novel ends with the United States launching numerous retaliatory nuclear strikes against the Soviet Union's remaining population centers, including Murmansk and Odessa. These attacks, combined with a large revolt against the communist government in Poland, further drain the resources of the still retreating Red Army. Ihor Shevchenko, having survived terrible officers out west, is part of the force sent to put the rebellion down.