16
Apr 04

Okay, On The Beach is a nice elegaic title for it, but why?

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 253 views

Okay, On The Beach is a nice elegaic title for it, but why? There is barely any beach action at all. The point of Shute’s novel is that there is no action full stop, just three hundred pages of post nuclear war fatalism. Emotional speculative fiction which i found interesting if not convincing. The almost unanimity in these Australian’s acceptance of their death six months away seems to run contrary to the human spirit. Tempted to put this down to being Australian (and there is possibly a thesis in that) it did not stop me being interested by the book. Like science fiction where the science is outdated, it is enjoyable as a period piece, though not because we are not tettering cold war like on the abyss which gave the novel its original strength.

I found the coy fatalism in the book more frightening than death itself: amusing at first, then disturbing, then psychologically unpleasant. Shute tells his tale of self deluding very stiff upper lips without much of a consideration of other reactions to impending death (and good on him). A book which could not be written now, the characterisation would be laughed out of town. Nevertheless it is powerful probably because of its flaws.

Pogo sticks were always rubbish though.

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