The Audacity of Hope: A Soviet Soldier In a World Without Doomsday is a 2010 alternate history novel written by Jon Gosselin of Reading, Pennsylvania. It is the second book that he has written, and his first work of fiction. It is a story about a Soviet officer who prevents Doomsday from happening and subsequently lives in a world where nuclear war had not happened. It was praised by critics for its account of a world without Doomsday and exploring the possibilities of such a world.
On September 26, 1983, Yan Goselinov, a young Soviet lieutenant in a missile detection installation somewhere outside Moscow, detects five incoming missiles on his scope. After the initial panic, he tells his subordinates not to report the incident, believing it to be a false alarm. This is later proven to be true by a mechanic, and Goselinov faints at the revelation. He wakes up in his home being tended to by his wife Katya. He tells her the events in the installation and makes her promise not to tell anybody.
Fast forward to 1984: Yuri Andropov, General Secretary of the CPSU, is dead. As Yan and Katya stand in line to view Andropov's coffin, an announcement is made stating that Konstantin Afanasyev has been nominated General Secretary. Yan and Katya react to the news with some surprise. Just a year later, Afanasyev himself is dead, and a man from the new generation of Soviet politicians, Demyan Rogotov, becomes the new leader. At the same time, Goselinov is deployed to Afghanistan, where the Soviet Union is fighting an Islamist insurgency fighting to wrest the country away from its secular communist puppets. Yan leaves his wife and twin daughters behind and travels to Kabul, where he is assigned to a Signal Corps regiment. His first few weeks on duty were quiet for the standards of the place, and he was able to maintain a correspondence with his wife.
While deploying a new command center in an abandoned town in the outskirts of Kabul, Yan's unit comes under attack from the mujahideen. Although their communications equipment was destroyed, the unit beat back the muj and managed to return to their base in one piece, which was not always the case in Afghanistan.
After a few more uneventful weeks, Yan, now promoted to senior lieutenant, concludes his tour of duty and returns home. He and his family move to Moscow in 1987 when Yan is promoted to captain and ordered to report for duty as an analyst, but shortly after that, he is ordered back to Afghanistan, this time leading a counterinsurgency unit from Herat.
Investigating a reported hive of activity in the vicinity of Shindand AFB, Yan and his unit attack a well-trained mujahideen force and capture a CIA officer sent along with the Stinger SAMs that had given the Soviets so much trouble. Although they interrogate him vigorously, the CIA officer tells them nothing. One night, Yan confides to the agent that were it not for him, he would not be alive because Soviet counterinsurgency units were not that squeamish about torture. The agent replies with, "I'll keep that in mind."
As he returned to his barracks, Yan's unit came under attack from a team of CIA special forces. Yan himself is knocked unconscious by a grenade exploding near him, and he is then subsequently captured by the CIA. However, in their safehouse, the CIA agent asks his fellow agents to let Yan go, as he owed his life to him. He is first bound and gagged before being returned to Shindand. He didn't know it then, but he would meet the same agent again, but under different circumstances.
After his three-week tour, Yan returned home again to find out that Katya was pregnant -- to sextuplets! Yan greets the news with both joy and fear; joy because he was becoming a father to six new lives, and fear because such a thing had never been heard of yet in the Soviet Union. (Note the similarities with the real-life Gosselins.)
Katya survives the pregnancy and gives birth to six healthy babies (at least as healthy as sextuplets are supposed to be), three boys and three girls. Yan is allowed to return to his desk job in Moscow, and his wife is given access to some of the Soviet Union's best medical facilities. Their life remained that way for almost four years.