1.1The story begins on the day after Christmas1962. We’re in Australia. A year before there was a short nuclear war, which destroyed the northern hemisphere. The radioactivity is steadily coming south. They expect that Australia will be down within a year due the radiation. That war was a kind of accident. Albania dropped an A-bom on Naples (I don’t know why). After that an A-bom was dropped on Tel Aviv, they didn’t know who did it, but Egypt was a suspect. Therefore the U.S. and Great Britain tried to impress Egypt by flying over that country with jet fighters. The next day Egypt sent out bombers (Russian bombers) and nuked Washington and London. As a result all statesmen were dead. The Egyptian bombers were identified as Russian bombers by the west, so NATO nuked Russia and Russia nuked back. Eventually China attacked Russia. This war stopped when all nuclear weapons were gone. Now the rest who survived could wait for the end.
In this world, in the vicinity of Melbourne, lives Lieutenant Commander Peter Holmes of the Royal Australian Navy. He has a wife, Mary, and a little baby girl, Jennifer. Of course life has changed. Everything is slowing down, because there is hardly any petrol left, except for the army and government.
Peter gets a new job aboard U.S.S. Scorpion, a submarine, as liaison officer. Commander of Scorpion is Commander Dwight Towers. They’re firs assignment will be to go to Cairns, Port Moresby and Port Darwin. Before that Dwight will spend the weekend at Peters home. Mary wants to distract Dwight, because she thinks he must be thinking a lot about home, maybe he will start crying if he sees the baby. Therefore she invites Moira Davidson. She has to amuse Dwight. Moira is a nice young woman, but she drinks to much.
Dwight arrives on Saturday, Moira and he have a great time racing in a sailing competition. At night there is a little party at Peter’s home. Everyone is heaving a great time, they can forget the misery.
When Towers comes back he hears that John Osborne will also join the ships crew. He’s a scientific officer from CSIRO. Before the ship will leave Moira pays a visit to Scorpion. There she sees photos of Dwights family.
Just before the cruise Peter and Dwight have a meating with the Prime Minister, they also get a report from the U.S.S. Swordfish. Swordfish is also a submarine who survived the war. This ship is stationed in Rio de Janeiro and made a trip to the north atlantic.
On the cruise they find out little more than they already knew. They only saw totally dead and abandoned cities. They only saw one dog.
When they come back they report this. The crew also got the measles.
Dwight is coming over to Peter’s home again. Moira is there again. Dwight and Moira have a good time again. This time they also talk about how it was at Dwight’s home. Dwight is talking about his family as they would still be alive, but they must be dead.
The officers are resting. They also talk about they’re future. John tells that someone of CSIRO is preserving the history about what is happening to them.
Dwight and Moira grow closer. Dwight even visits her house (a pharm on which she leves with her parents). Dwight likes Moira very much, but he will never ‘cheat’ his wife, also she’s dead. Moira repaires Dwight’s clothes and Dwight helpes on the pharm.
When Dwight comes back he gets his next orders. He has to make a trip to the U.S. There they will investigate a mysterious radio signal from somewhere near Seatle. They will also visit several other harbours.
When Peter hears the orders he becomes a little afraid. He thinks he won’t be back in time for the end, or that will not return at all. Therefore he talks to a chemist. The chemist tells him about free pills to commit suicide, if you don’t want to day in pain and misery.
When he tells Mary about it she first gets very upset, later she starts accepting the reality of the danger of radiation and the misery of radiation sickness.
John Osborn has bought a real ferrari, because he wants to start racing. He can’t drive to much, because he hasn’t got a lot of fuel. He needs a special sort of alcohol.
Dwight buys some presents for his (dead) family. For his son a fishing rod, for his wife an expensive necklass and for his daughter he wants a pogo stick, but he can’t find one. Moira promises to get one for him.
Scorpion makes his last cruise. In the U.S. they discover that the readio signal was nothing. Whole the U.S. is dead. They also had to investigate if the radiation up north was decreasing, that was not the case. One of the sailors jumps ship. They’re at his hometown and he wants to die there, so they leave him. When they go back Dwight becomes commanding officer of the U.S. Navy. The former commander died when Brisbane went out.
After this Scorpion won’t get a seagoing job anymore. Peter goes home and Dwight goes to Moira’s home to rest. He has got the flue. There Moira gives him the pogo stick as she promised. Moira also arranges the trout fishing season will open earlier, on the tenth of August. Dwight wants tom go trout fishing, but he refuses to break the law.
John wants to drive the last grand prix ever. Therefore he has to qualify himself, and he does.
By now people are doing the things they always wanted to. They’re even making plans for the next couple of years, but they only have a few weeks left.
On the tenth of August Moira and Dwight go fishing, they have a great time. That day John wins the grand prix.
By now everything is coming to an end. Life stocks as people get ill. In the end a lot of people refuse to go on any longer and take the pill. John takes it in his ferrari. Peter and Mary take it in bed, after they gave Jennifer one.
Dwight will take Scorpion outside the twelve mile zone and sink it. He thinks that’s the
Way Uncle Sam would have liked it. Moira takes a pill after she watched Dwight sail away.
THE END (forever)
1.2 The author:
Nevil Shute, who died in 1960 at the age of sixty, was born in London and educated at Oxford for a life in science. He won distinction in two specialized and demanding careers. As Nevil Shute Norway, aviation engineer, he founded his own aircraft company and worked on the development of secret weapons for the British in World War2. As Nevil Shute, novelist, he had been the author of some two dozen books which sold over 15.000.000 copies in all editions.
Peter Holmes: Peter Holmes is a officer in the Royal Australian Navy. He has a wife and a baby. He’s a good strong person. He isn’t mourning, but doing his job. In the end he is also brave enough to give the baby the deadly injection and take the pills. Although he was feeling quite well himself.
Dwight Towers: Dwight is a real American. He will only do the things strickly by the rules and as Uncle Sam likes it. He will not ‘cheat’ his wife, even if she is dead. He is also a very strong person, who has to cope with the los of everything he got. He’s also very brave. He is doing everything he can, although he knows he will die.
Moira Davidson: Moira is a nice young woman who keeps on lovng Dwight, even she knows he will be never hers. She drinks a lot, because she wants to forget the misery and have fun.
The book is a warning against nuclear weapons. It also is warning to think well before you react. Don’t do thinks purely instinctively, but think. Otherwise you could make a mistake which could even destroy the world. This is shown in the way the west mistakes the Egyptian planes for Russian ones.
Andere boeken van deze auteur:
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