Does anyone remember a 60s or 70s short SF story by an American author, in which the US has deployed a weapon that has killed every single Soviet citizen, leaving the infrastructure intact.

Americans move to the newly empty USSR to live, and get things running again.

Odd things happen. Some of the occupiers start learning and speaking Russian; some even Russify their names. It is as if the land has a spirit or soul which transforms the occupiers to replace those who have vanished.

Eventually the new "Russians" show signs of wanting independence and of anti-Americanism.

I think I may have read it in a magazine like "Galaxy".

  • Hey Michael, it seems you're still active on the network. Any input on David's suggestion below? Is that what you were looking for, or does the search continue? :) – Jenayah Jun 4 '19 at 22:48

This is probably "Returning Home", by Ian Watson, published in Sunstroke and Other Stories (1982), and also in Omni (December 1982). In this story, the USA develops a "Super-Radiation Bomb", which kills living things but leaves property intact, and the USSR develops the "Socialist Bomb" (SOB), which destroys property but not people:

In other words, drop an SOB on New York City and very soon you would have no New York City at all, only an empty space with millions of people wandering around stark-naked. ...

Then there is a brief war:

In less than an hour the U.S.A. and the USSR exchanged their entire arsenals of Radiation Bombs and SOBs.

The Americans migrate into the now empty Russia, but the land somehow Russifies them:

... I know—for a fleeting moment—that every building and machine and thing we use is alive, possessed. Locomotives, gastronoms, buses and tractors, offices and ice-cream carts and rouble notes, all tell us what to do, and the way to do it. The whole environment, of Russian making, sucked up their souls for safekeeping, and now they have entered us, like dybbuks. ...


America is as wild and empty and far away as it was a hundred thousand years ago before any Asians first traversed the Bering Strait to roam the American plains as Indians. America is a forgotten country. Mother Russia is our land, and we are hers.

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