On the Beach
autorem artykułu jest Zofia Biegańska
Love and hope fail to survive when faced with the collapse of the civilization and death of every single living creature on earth. As a result of a worldwide nuclear war, life in the northern hemisphere no longer exists due to radiation. What is left is cities with their architecture and industrial plants, infrastructure and greenery, cars and fields but with no people around. However, there are areas where missile defence systems had failed and everything got swept away by nuclear explosions.
Life in the southern hemisphere is seemingly the same as it used to be before the war but no matter how much people would like to forget there is less than a year left for them to live, everyday situations remind them the truth. There is no more petrol for their cars so they have to replace them by trains, trams and bikes. They manage to send a bomber and an American submarine as far as to the North Pole but the results of both experimental and dangerous ventures bring disastrous results. The radiation spreads at the same rate, nothing can stop it and the living space they have systematically decreases. Radio news concentrate on sporting events, music and the number of radiation sickness cases in big cities with the illness deadly trace heading south. When there are only two months left, life in Africa, South America and a vast part of Australia is finished. People in Melbourne, where the book’s main characters live, are beginning to prepare to die, everyone in their own way, but the final result is the same for everyone – they commit suicide. In a way it is easier for adults who are alone, as they don’t have to give a lethal shot to their children, the mentally sick or pet animals, but only in a way – they feel terribly lost in their loneliness. Many of them are trying to spend their last days in an intensive way, doing something for pleasure ( eg going fishing to the mountains ) or fulfilling their dreams and ambitions ( winning Australia’s Grand Prix car race). Others are busy working in their farms and gardens, planting trees, flowers and building fences or buying garden benches and lawn mowers. They have a bitter feeling of injustice and harm but there is no hysteria and when the time comes and they are too weak to live any longer, they swallow a pill they took from a pharmacy and go to bed to die.
The book has been on bestseller lists since it was published, two films have been shot based on its plot and it still should be a memento mori for the politicians and country leaders who belong to the world’s nuclear club.
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