- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster (June 22, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1416567666
- ISBN-13: 978-1416567660
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #794,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Down to a Sunless Sea Paperback – June 22, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
David Graham's "Down to a Sunless Sea" was one of the early-1980s post-apocalyptic novels. I remember reading it then and, unlike so many other books I read then, this one really stayed with me. It really brought to life one of the trivial, often-unforgotten aspects of a nuclear war - what would the people in airliners, especially those over the oceans, do after they survived the initial holocaust?
The book does have some weaknesses: some cheesy, very "British" love scenes, and some of the backstory is unrealistic (especially the speed at which the world slips into crisis and the nuclear war breaks out). Also, the author probably overstates the initial devastation of a nuclear war and apparently didn't really research nuclear capabilities at the time.
Still, the main story is excellent - a fast-reading first person recount of success and triumph during a bleak time. It's a definite read for anyone interested in post-nuclear apocalyptic fiction.
The story itself is fantastic - days are dark, the US cannot find or buy enough oil with its devalued currency as China and Russia sense blood in the water. The great cities are vacant except for those who survive and thrive in the absence of law and order. On the other hand, the United Kingdom has managed to maintain their fuel supply and some semblance of normality. Eventually, the UK begins to accept refugees from America and they arrive at Heathrow in large jumbo jets under the Air Britain's Armada program.
Enter Jonah Scott, a British pilot taking off from JFK with a full flight of some 600 passengers and crew on board. He's a macho kind of guy, has all the right chest hair in the right places - and while he seems like a character straight out of Mad Men, he does do a rather nice job of fixing a Very Big Problem.
You see, after the wheels leave the tarmac and shortly before Jonah's second highball and 15th cigarette, tensions in the Middle East spill over into a free-for-all nuclear strike and suddenly, this plane full of people is stuck at cruising altitude. The US is gone, all the British airports have been destroyed and Jonah's desperate for a landing place. Now that's a Very Big Problem.
So where do you land a plane after the world has gone mad? If you cannot return to your origin and your destination is now radioactively hot - your options are severely limited to the amount of fuel remaining in the tank. And once you land, then what? With the prevailing winds, you might as well be in a Nevil Shute novel waiting on the beach for the nuclear cloud. With a seemingly un-ending supply of Scotch and cigarettes, Jonah and his ark reconfigure a new direction - for themselves as well as the future of all mankind
Despite the dated ideology and MANY logical fallacies, Down to a Sunless Sea remains an unsung classic. It is surprising to me that this book never made it to the silver screen. Even during all those airport disaster movies. And that also leads me to wonder - since movies are always being re-directed, re-produced with bigger, better scripts, more explosions, more computer graphics - why can't we also do that to some books?
Down to a Sunless Sea in its concept, is a rockin' book - but it desperately needs a lot of re-work. On the other hand, there's a certain charm with all the little hiccups in the story which kind of fits with all of Jonah's booze, babes and bombs.