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This Is the Way the World Ends Paperback – April 24, 1995
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From Library Journal
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
As one can tell from this brief synopsis of the plot, this is not your ordinary work of post-apocalyptic fiction. Or rather, it covers the same ground, but from a completely different angle. The Nostradamus bookends offer an air of inevitability to the narrative, and introduce a major plot device, and Morrow's description of a nuclear war's aftermath is highly engaging. Where this novel really shines, however, is in the trial.
One might expect Morrow to be a staunch proponent of disarmament given the theme of his book, but that assumption is not entirely true. Through the mechanism of the trial, he rails against both the naiveté of the doves, and the hawks' disconnect from reality. As another reviewer so eloquently stated, he demolishes the generally accepted duality of nuclear politics, and demands the reader consider a third path of their own making. That's where George comes in; his real guilt is not in his action, but in his inaction.Read more ›
Sandwiched between bookends of Nostradamus, the plot revolves around main character George Paxton, an everyman who carves tombstones for a living and worries about his family. When his neighbor invents something called a "scopas suit" that promises to be the device to change the nuclear balance of power, by allowing its wearer to survive and thrive after a nuclear exchange, George finds he cannot afford one - but makes a deal with a strange shopkeeper to get one on the cheap. On his way home, World War III erupts and George is caught almost at Ground Zero as he watches his family die from intense radiation poisoning.
That is just the setup for the meat of the book. George is rescued by a submarine and taken to Antarctica with five other survivors, to be put on trial for ending the human race. The judge, jury, and executioners? A race called "unadmitted humans," who came to be in the time-altering effects of the War. They bleed black blood and only live for a short time, but they nurse George to health so he can stand trial. Those familiar with "Blameless in Abaddon" will recognize the trial as a means for Morrow to tell his story, and the reader is intended to sympathize with those who created the nuclear conflict through lies like "mutual assured destruction," "deterrence," and so forth.Read more ›
Morrow typically begins with a fantastic premise that provides the perfect setting in which to skewer his targets. Take his book, Towing Jehovah. God's gigantic body drops dead from the sky. God is clearly now dead, but this means he was once alive. This is a rich starting point for showing that both atheists and theists (but especially theists) are ridiculously wrong. In the case of his satire on nuclear war, TITWTWE, Morrow mixes realism with fantasy. The nuclear war itself is described in horrifying detail. The arguments for and against nuclear deterrence are examined in a concrete way. Contrary to Mills, the giant prehistoric bird is explained in ordinary biological terms and is therefore, strictly speaking, science fictional not fantastic. The flying tailor shop is also science fictional.
This isn't to say that a prehistoric bird and a flying tailor shop aren't fantastic in a less technical sense. Even if we put to one side its genuine fantastic themes, TITWTWE still wouldn't be a straightforward novel. This is to that even speculative science fictional ideas are fantastic in the sense that they're highly unusual. Perhaps the overall strangeness of Morrow's novel detracts from the serious points he may want to make.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I should have know by the title I wasn't not going to get the title I was looking for, but the twists and characters gave me hope darn you James Morrow. Read morePublished 3 months ago by g.w.s.hunter
As a "down-the-rabbit-hole" satire concerning strategic nuclear balance/theory tenets, it has it's moments. Read morePublished 6 months ago by L. A. Veronie II
I'm surprised I read the whole thing. Often when a book does not hold my interest I stop at 10 or 20%. Read morePublished 8 months ago by texberk
Started reading James Morrow w/the publication of "Towing Jehovah" -- whenever that was. I don't think I've missed much of his published work since. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Janet Filter
This is a great satire of global thermonuclear war. It's like Dr. Strangelove and Alice in Wonderland. Well worth the read!Published on June 11, 2014 by Panacea
In my opinion this is Morrow's finest piece of writing. I don't like spoilers but if you like any of his other books this is a must read. Read morePublished on June 19, 2013 by Josh Noel
This novel is very possibly the worst storyline I have ever read; oh wait, forget possibly, it IS the very worst story I have every read. Don't buy it, borrow it or steal it. Read morePublished on July 28, 2010 by old recluse
Why this has been classified as a science fiction novel is quite frankly beyond me. Its not. Its an absurdist satire on the nature of strategic Nuclear doctrine which takes as its... Read morePublished on February 22, 2009 by DLD