1. I’m finally the owner of one of the 50s/60s post-apocalyptic novels…. I suspect the 1959 film adaptation of Nevil Shute’s On the Beach (1957), which I did not enjoy, was the reason I’ve taken so long to acquire a copy.
It’ll fit neatly into my recent themed review sequence:
- John Christopher’s The Death of Grass (variant title: No Blade of Grass) (1965) — forthcoming review.
- John Christopher’s A Wrinkle in the Skin (variant title: The Ragged Edge) (1965)
- Alfred Coppel’s Dark December (1960)
- Wilson Tucker’s The Long Loud Silence (1952, revised 1969)
2. A far lesser known UK post-apocalyptic novel–SF Encyclopedia compares Philip McCutchan’s A Time for Survival (1965) to the relentless despair of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006
3. I’ve yet to read any of Walter Tevis’ SF–I’ve acquired his post-apocalyptic novel Mockingbird (1980).
4. And finally, the least-known quantity of this post…. an impulse buy (SF and noir is a fun combo) at my local Half Price.
Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. On the Beach, Nevil Shute (1957)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1986 edition)
From the inside flap: “In the south of Australia, the last survivors of a nuclear war await the deadly radiation that has already claimed the entire population of the northern hemisphere. One by one, towns to the north report cases of radiation sickness… and then fall silent. The said, frightened remnants of humanity count the months before they, too, will die, and choose how they will live them.
Scientists John Osbourne tunes his racing car for the Grand Prix he hopes to win.
for Peter and Mary Holmes, their remaining time is best spent caring for their baby daughter, and planning a garden they’ll never live to see.
Effervescent Moira Davidson chooses to stay as drunk as possible… until Dwight Towers enters her life. Towers–highest ranking officer in what’s left of the United States Navy—find solace with Moira, but he also has a mission: to trace the mysterious message being received from Seattle, where supposedly no one could still be alive. On the remote chance of finding human life, Towers pursues that elusive transmission—desperately searching for a sign that perhaps mankind has not yet written its own death sentence….
On the Beach was one of the first works of fiction to confront the grim reality of nuclear war and its devastating aftermath. As a novel and then as an acclaimed motion picture, it shocked the world with its unsparing account of the extinction of the human race. Yet it is also a compassionate portrayal of the lives of ordinary men and women who are doomed but still exhibit the highest form of courage: to live and dream and hope when all hope is gone.
Now, 30 years after its initial publication, Nevil Shute’s On the Beach is more potent than ever—as a gripping, deeply moving novel… and as a warning.”
2. A Time for Survival, Philip McCutchan (1966)
(Uncredited cover for the 1st edition)
Note: the copy I purchased does not have a dust jack (tip: read bookseller descriptions closely!) hence I included the only clear image of the cover I could find online (above).
Here is SF Encyclopedia’s spoiler-containing blurb on the novel: “A Time for Survival (1966), a Post-Holocaust story of unremitting bleakness, is set in a lifeless landscape after England has been A-bombed by the Chinese; a few survivors trek away from Portsmouth, along a road nearly as bleak as that depicted in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006); after they alert the American navy of their existence, the Americans drop further A-bombs on the dead land, driving those still alive into the sea, a Slingshot Ending with only one conclusion.”
3. Mockingbird, Walter Tevis (1980)
(Uncredited cover (Lou Feck?) for the 1981 edition)
From the back cover: “A NOVEL OF FORBIDDEN LOVE AND FORGOTTEN DREAMS BY THE AUTHOR OF THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH.
A world where humans wander, drugged and lulled by electronic bliss. Where quick sex is best, where people would rather burn themselves alive than endure. A dying world of no children, no art, no reading. Where some still refuse to surrender. And love is the only hope.
A strange love triangle. Spofforth, the most perfect machine ever created, whose only wish is to die. Paul and Mary Lou, whose passion for each other is the only future.
A haunting novel, reverberating with anguish. The beats with the force of life. And celebrates joy and love, the strength of hope, the force of the world, and the magic of a dream.”
4. Nightside City, Lawrence Watt-Evans (1989)
(David Schleinkofer’s cover for the 1st edition)
From the back cover: “DAYLIGHT AT THE EDGE OF TOWN.
Nightside City was built on the dark side of Epimetheus, back when everyone was sure that the planet had stopped rotating. Now, slowly but surely, Nightside City was moving toward the dayside—and doom. Already the first rays of deadly sunlight had begun to hit the tops of the tall buildings of the West End, and that part of the city had become a ghost town.
So when private investigator Carlisle Hsing heard that somebody was buying up all that worthless West End property, she was intrigued. And when the clues pointed to a secret plot to save the city from dawn, she had to learn more. If such a plan could succeed, Hsing was all for it. But why keep something like a that a secret?
Hsing was determined to find the answers. And suddenly her enemies were all too willing to show her the light…”
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