Author Topic: NEVIL SHUTE: \"On The Beach\"  (Read 1644 times)

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Offline Lady Penelope

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NEVIL SHUTE: \"On The Beach\"
« on: March 18, 2011, 10:16:53 PM »
My comment on another Phorum reminded me that Nevil Shute is one of those, now sadly out of favour , authors to whom I return time and again.  The beautifully observed and described human interest in his stories makes them ageless while his scientific background (he was one of the engineers who designed the R101) is of considerable historical interest.  

In \"On  the Beach\" , which is uncomfortable to think of just now,  a nuclear war has wiped out the whole of the Western Hemisphere  winds are blowing the fallout across the Southern and Australia (Nevil Shute sets several of his books there) only remains awaiting the end,    Sounds, and is, depressing  if not downright frightening but totally non putdownable and the characterisations (particularly of the Commander of an American navel vessel who retains his sanity by clinging to the belief that his family are awaiting him at home), brilliant.

Ive got most of his books in print format, but a Chivers Audio book of \"Round the Bend\" a thoughtful but more optimistic book, has one of the best readings I have heardby John Telfer.  For the technically minded, I also have \"Slide Rule\", his autobiography, which describes, among other things, the design, building and testing of the airships.His views on thetesting of engineering innovations throw and interesting light on the methods of modern techcnology.


PS  btw I will get back to you on Audio Books soon, Cats, I got diverted onto other threads and now too late at night.

Offline cats22

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Re: NEVIL SHUTE: \"On The Beach\"
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2011, 10:09:22 AM »
Thank you for the recommendation Penny.  The only book of his that I can recall reading is \"A Town Like Alice\" which I enjoyed very much but I was vaguely aware that he had written books with a more scientific background so I will look out for this one.  I was going to say that I know the story as I heard the dramatisation on radio 4 recently but, bearing in mind how we got on to discussing books here, I may not know the story and anyway won\'t know all of it.

Offline Lady Penelope

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Re: NEVIL SHUTE: \"On The Beach\"
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2011, 08:07:33 PM »
I missed the dramatisation, maybe as well, as it would probably have annoyed me.  P\'articularly if it was abridged, because the me the joy of Nevil Shute\'s writing is that it is disciplined (perhaps due to his engineering background) and concise. He can (unlike me!) convey what he wants to in a few words, and doesnt indulge in flowery phrases and rambling discriptions that  might not suffer too badly by judicious pruning by a skilled adaptor.

\"Alice\" is probably his best known book.         A lot of his books have an engineering element to a lesser or greater degree, but he is a multifaceted writer who has tackled a number of subjects.  Another of my favourites is\"No Highway\" which in my view should be required reading for scientists, engineers and technicians since it illustrates  the dangers of skimping testing under political or financial pressure.  But it is his characters that make the book for me and this one has a particularly endearing \'hero\'.

Offline tepeethetroll

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Re: NEVIL SHUTE: \"On The Beach\"
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2011, 08:52:21 PM »
I have read both \"A Town Like Alice\" and \"No Highway\" and enjoyed them both. I know that both of these titles were adapted for the screen, but have either been the subject of a radio dramatisation? If they have I missed them@\'.2\'@

Another of his books I read was \"The Far Country\" which I did NOT enjoy at all. Far to politically overt for my liking, and it put me off him.

Perhaps I ought to go back and try a few more.
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Offline Lady Penelope

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Re: NEVIL SHUTE: \"On The Beach\"
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2011, 09:54:26 PM »
SPOILER WARNING

I cant reply to Mars without giving away some of the plot.











The Far Country isnt one of my favourites either Mars, but because I think it gets a bit confused not because of the politics.

Nevil Shute does sometimes use his books as vehicles to make a point about a social or political issue - but he is hardly alone in that and sometimes it is the most effective, if not the only, way of making people see other sides of the coin ..

I think The Far Country does raise two issues that were very  valid at the time of writing;  (1) the plight of many who are two proud to ask for \"charity\" or just too confused by the bureaucracy under the British National Health and Social Services systems and the fact that the systems sometimes penalise responsible and honest but independent minded  people who try to provide for themselves and their dependants  and (b)  whether a highly trained skilled and responsible medical practitioner should be allowed to practice (in the book it is a matter of life and death and there is no other medical aid available) despite being a refugee and his qualification obtained elsewhere.    The former is perhaps a specifically British issue, but the latter  is surely of vital importance in todays world  and a great bone of contention.

I think Shute  jprobably did an injustice to both points by combining them in one book, and actually cheated a little, in order to give the book a happy ending,   On the other hand if you want escapist reading (and nothing wrong with that) this may not be the book for you.

Offline PAW

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Re: NEVIL SHUTE: \"On The Beach\"
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2011, 06:13:02 PM »
Just tidying the data for yesterdays programmes and noticed that there\'s been two dramas on R4 called Landfall - one was the science fiction by Mike Walker, the other was a saturday night theatre from 1964 by Nevil Shute.

Offline Janaru

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Re: NEVIL SHUTE: \"On The Beach\"
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2011, 02:10:30 AM »
Loved the Saturday play, Paul. I was going to post about that on another thread.
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Offline cats22

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Re: NEVIL SHUTE: \"On The Beach\"
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2011, 08:50:29 PM »
I have a copy of the book in the to-be-read pile but in case anyone is interested, the classic serial (from last year I think) is being repeated on 4 Extra starting this Sunday at 6pm.  

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0120yh1

Offline Truthyness

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Re: NEVIL SHUTE: \"On The Beach\"
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2011, 09:52:08 PM »
To me its just one more demonstration of how the BBC piles on the \"anti-Middle East\" propaganda! Simply in poor taste airing this at a time like this.

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Offline lifeonmarsfan

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Re: NEVIL SHUTE: \"On The Beach\"
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2011, 10:33:36 PM »
Wait a minute. The Middle East has nukes? When did that happen? First Wisconsin strikes down collective bargaining among it\'s government union workers, now this?!? Oh, hang on you said MIDDLE EAST. Ah, I thought you meant the American Mid West. Never mind @\'.\'@

Offline Lady Penelope

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Re: NEVIL SHUTE: \"On The Beach\"
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2011, 11:12:11 PM »
Truthyness Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> To me its just one more demonstration of how the
> BBC piles on the \"anti-Middle East\" propaganda!
> Simply in poor taste airing this at a time like
> this.


Are you sure we are talking about the same book here, Tru?    I dont recall anything specifically anti Middle East (wherever that may be)   A warning about the dangers of nuclear proliferation, possibly , and of weapons getting in the wrong hands. or hands that are perceived as being wrong by the \"West\". Now I will have to either read the book again and/or listen, because I cannot recall it being specified  actually where the bomb in question originated - in fact bearing in mind the time the book was written I think the bogey man then  was the  USSR.

In fact it is another one that has to be seen in historical context, and is somewhat outdated as all the horror stories I have picked up recently  (and rather hurriedly put down again in most cases) have been about germ warfare which to my mind is even more frightening.

Offline becky sharp

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Re: NEVIL SHUTE: \"On The Beach\"
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2011, 11:34:30 PM »
tepeethetroll Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I have read both \"A Town Like Alice\" and \"No
> Highway\" and enjoyed them both. I know that both
> of these titles were adapted for the screen, but
> have either been the subject of a radio
> dramatisation? If they have I missed them@\'.2\'@
>
> Another of his books I read was \"The Far Country\"
> which I did NOT enjoy at all. Far to politically
> overt for my liking, and it put me off him.
>
> Perhaps I ought to go back and try a few more.
___________________________________________

I love that book and have watched the film many times.

Offline PAW

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Re: NEVIL SHUTE: \"On The Beach\"
« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2011, 03:44:09 AM »
I should get around to rereading this because Seattle plays a major role and it would be interesting to see if the descriptions match.

Anyway, WW3 starts with a local war in southern Europe, can\'t remember where, Italy?, anyway Egypt launches missiles at the UK & US and because they were bought from Russia that\'s who gets blamed - and whoops apocalypse.

Offline Lady Penelope

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Re: NEVIL SHUTE: \"On The Beach\"
« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2011, 10:10:08 PM »
SPOILER WARNING:   I dont think the following will spoil the show, but if you havent hear the programme or read the book you might prefer to skip the following till you have










Thank PAW            So I was right and wrong.   Both the Middle East and Russia were involved - but Ithink the issues were very different from today\'s.   Was the book written when Nasser was President of Egypt and around the time of Suez?

Tru, with love and respect, I dont think this book has any relevance to todays situation and the BBC should be absolved of prejudice in this particular instance    Neville Shute has to be read today  with a certain amount of historical salt but having said that I consider him to be a good writer, a superb story teller with something still interesting to say, and I am glad he is being revived and hope they will unearth more.   A Town like Alice is still my favourite, with No Highway a close second.

PAW:    Is Seattle the town where the American naval vessel went to find out what was happening in the Northern Hemisphere?  |If so that episode was a bit of a tear jerker and I am the town (?city) as portrayed after the devastation bears no resemblance to how it is today?!!!

Offline Janaru

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Re: NEVIL SHUTE: \"On The Beach\"
« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2011, 05:09:43 AM »
I believe it was Seattle, Pen.
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