Thanks to a space-satellite accident, the US has unintentionally decimated the USSR via nuclear warheads--with automatic retaliation likewise wiping out America and radiation spreading over the globe. The only area not yet affected? Antarctica--where the sole survivors include a few scientists (on land), a small Russian ship (at sea), and Airship Nine, a commercial dirigible flying over Antarctica on its way from South Africa to Australia. Aboard the Airship Nine, the soap-operatic crew reacts to the nuclear-holocaust news with standard horror (the gay radio-man commits suicide) and petty feuding. Aboard the Russian motorship Primorye, however, power-mad psycho Dr. Boris Ney immediately starts plotting to become premier of the post-WW III world: while most of the crew favors a peaceful approach to any fellow survivors, tricky Ney urges anti-US vengeance--with an attack on the barely populated US science-stations. And soon both vessels are racing for the only safe spot on the planet--the South Pole--so there'll be an air/land rescue mission, a deflatingairship crisis, and a final shootout at the Pole. . . before the peace-loving survivors on both sides toss away all weapons and come together, to the tune of ""As Time Goes By."" Block (Mayday, Orbit, Forced Landing) does a solid job with the technicalities here: the futuristic dirigible-liner, the airship/motorship battles (the Russians have a helicopter and AS-8 missiles), the icy topography. The characters, however, remain cartoon-flat as they limp through predictable romances, sentimental subplots, and corny dialogue. And, though a sturdy enough diversion for technoaction fans, this TV-movie-ish adventure has none of the end-of-the-world impact of other, scarier novels--most recently, for instance, Luke Rhinehart's Long Voyage Back (1983).