On the Beach was part of my Nevil Shute period, which was almost certainly down to Bryan Brown, the actor. It’s my pick for the letter O, anyway.
The plan for the month is to feature daily a book I’ve reviewed in the past (or review it that day), and also highlight others: not all are included each day.
- spacetime challenge (I host this reading challenge – you can join here)
- middle grade (childrens) choice
- series (love a good series – there’s a challenge for finishing those, too)
- ‘notable’ reads
- ‘outstanding’ books
- my books!
Featured: On The Beach
by Nevil Shute
It’s a very long time since I read On the Beach, and I read it more than once. I’ve picked a cover from the late sixties, which looks familiar.
I got into Nevil Shute because Bryan Brown was the hero in the film of A Town Called Alice (possibly a TV series). The combination of Fall of Singapore prison camps, and then the girl wondering whatever happening to him, so she went to Alice Springs to find out… romance to stir a young girl’s heart. Mine, that is. Although Alice Springs is a pretty cool place.
On the Beach was one of the others I read, and one that stayed with me. How would the ordinary person cope with the aftermath of nuclear war? What would happen if there appeared to be no survivors except in your geographically isolated area. How would you cope? And then… the random radio signals someone picks up turn into words, real words. What if there is someone out there, trying to find help?
The final phase of this book came back to me vividly during lockdown. What do you do when you are starting to see the signs of radiation sickness among your neighbours, and realise that this really is the end. Do you jump off a cliff? Do you see it through to the end? After all, your partner may need your care.
And do you plant your vegetable garden up for the next season, because it’s just the pattern of your life, even though you won’t live to harvest it?
On the Beach lives on in me so strongly that I daren’t reread it. If you haven’t, let me know if you review it online. Here’s the goodreads link.
October the First Is Too Late by Fred Hoyle is another iconic read for me. It may not be time travel, but it definitely involves time shifts. Fractured worlds. A chance to change things before it is too late. An enigmatic title because of the plot. And I’ve used it as a code phrase in my books, although it was never actually needed. Like a password.
The author was a Professor of Astronomy at Cambridge, who staked his career on the ‘steady state’ theory of the universe. Not the Big Bang. He was a celebrity in his own right, then totally eclipsed by a young student called Stephen Hawking. His book The Black Cloud was the first to prove he was a great scifi story-teller. I preferred October the First – maybe I’ve always been keener on time shifts than alien visitors. He did write others, including children’s astronomy books, but these were the only two I’ve read.
Middle Grade Choice
Of Salt and Shore by Annet Schaap. This exciting mystery sees the lighthouse keeper’s daughter sent to live at the mysterious house on the hill to pay a debt. But her duties are light, and she has no idea why she’s been sent there. Until, eventually, she finds someone hidden away in a room at the top of the house.
That reads a little like a well-known story I can’t stand, but this is full of energy, life, interesting events and individuals… and the sea plays its part very well. I mean – just look at the cover!
I couldn’t find a specific series, but I noticed that several of the Third Flatiron anthologies begin with O, so here they are. I’ve had the privilege to have a story published in one of them (Galileo’s Theme Park), so I always keep an eye on the submission calls – there’s one due soon. Third Flatiron short story submissions call for fantasy, scifi and a little horror on a given theme, plus some humorous flash fiction too.
Over the Brink: the possible consequences of fooling Mother Nature.
Origins: Colliding Causalities…They say there’s a kernel of truth in every bit of outlandish lore. But when the heart of a thing has been lost, perhaps an archeological expedition is in order. You are free to join us, but time travel may be required.
Only Disconnect – exploring our networked world and how we desire to change it, or the pitfalls of distraction and overstimulation.
The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr. This slightly weird story features a girl who can only remember one thing, and that makes her decide to leave her home and go to Svalbard in search of it.
The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict. Uncovering more potential women STEM role models. It’s Germany around the end of the nineteenth century and this weird girl wants to talk maths. Or physics. She doesn’t mind which, and neither does Albert Einstein. Who’s to say this isn’t true? There’s some evidence… but how do you know when women were simply not allowed to put their names on research papers?
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. He calls it a children’s story for adults. It’s not a children’s story 🙂 It’s brilliant, as all Neil Gaimans are (AFAIK – I haven’t read them all yet). If you can entertain the idea of an ocean in your garden pond, read it. If you can’t – even more reason to read it!
That’s all for today, so come back tomorrow for more. I’m hoping to meet more people who like the same kinds of book, so feel free to recommend something you’ve read beginning with the letter of the day!