Nevil Shute’s “On the Beach”
“On the Beach” is a surreal journey into the darkness of the Nuclear Age. Our age. As a scientific phenomenon, the nuclear age began in 1945 with the explosion of the first nuclear bomb. But in world relations the nuclear age really began about ten years later. Until nearly the end of the forties, the United States was the only nuclear power in the world. In 1949, the Soviet Union exploded a nuclear device. But it was not until the middle of the fifties that the Soviet Union began to have an armory of nuclear weapons. Beginning about 1955, the West had ceased to have a monopoly of nuclear weapons, and by the end of the 1950s, the Soviet Union had become a very formidable nuclear power. Since 1955 there have existed in the world two rival and conflicting coalitions armed with nuclear weapons. They are in conflict at many points on the globe. They distrust profoundly each other's purposes. In the story author Nevil Shute uses the fear of nuclear annihilation to show the reader what could have happened to the world had the U.S. or the Soviet Union actually fired their arsenal of atomic weapons.
Nevil Shute displayed his ideas with great detail throughout his whole concept of having radiation move towards Australia. He is very informative on what can happen to you physically such as vomiting and diarrhea, and certain disease, which can spread such as cholera. He also reaches the conclusion that the incident can be prevented from those in Australia. It is a reasonable thought that the Northern Hemisphere will no longer be habitable if this situation occurs. This is rather frightening, considering a great deal of the worlds population lives in that large area. The level of radioactivity one can endure must be taken into account. One is only able to tolerate a certain level of radiation, but once it hits the lethal stages, you die very rapidly. Those who explored the Northern Hemisphere in the novel found much dust and radioactivity...
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