Australia is one of the last places where life still exists after nuclear war starts in the Northern Hemisphere. A year on, an invisible cloak of radiation has spread almost completely around the world.
Darwin is a ghost town, and radiation levels at Ayres Rock are increasing. An American nuclear-powered submarine has found its way to Australia, where its captain has placed the boat under the command of the Australian Navy. Commander Dwight Towers and his Australian liaison officer are sent to the coast of North America to discover whether a stray radio signal originating from near Seattle is a sign of life.
©2009 The Trustees of the Estate of the late Nevil Shute Norway (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
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"Understated and depressing classic"
On the Beach is a pioneering piece in the 'post-apocalyptic' genre, and probably does it better than most others.
Set in Australia folliwng a nuclear war it depicts a society, and the poeple in it, waiting for an inevitable death as the radioactive dust is drawn slowly southwards by the wind.
Shute is an undoubted master of understatement, meaning that whilst the war and the innevitable fate that is coming south on the winds is rarely discussed, it's in the background of every conversation, brooding and building an atmosphere of despair and claustrophobia.
Ultimately it asks whether it's better to die suddenly and unexpecting, or to be given time to reflect.
The narration is smooth and unfaltered, accents subtle but well drawn and very easy to listen to.
"Will the end of the world really be this dull?"
Who would have imagined the end of the world in Australia could be so terribly civilised? This book portrays a particularly English Apocalypse, with all discussions of any gravity avoided with such phrases as 'let's have a cup of tea, darling' and 'lets do the washing up'.
Pastimes as imminent death approaches in the form of a cloud of radiation are fishing, planning for the future, trying to buy a pogo-stick for your long-dead son and going about business as usual. Civilisation is reputedly 24 hours and 3 hot meals from anarchy but in Shute's Australia everyone?s about to die in the next few hours and people are still buying garden furniture! I was not expecting or hoping for Mad Max, but this book is utterly unbelievable for it's sheer lack of emotion and for not one of the passive, ovine characters taking the initiative and trying to actually survive. These are macabre automatons, playing out the last hours of their turgid lives, obsessing about 'doing the right thing, old boy'.
"I should of read the reviews"
The writer does a good job of getting to know the characters and by then end you really do feel for them.
This is a story about people, not about the end of the world
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