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Last updated on March 6th, 2018 at 12:30 am

British novelist Martin Amis worried big time about nuclear war 20 years ago:

Suppose I survive. Suppose my eyes aren’t pouring down my face, suppose I am untouched by the hurricane of secondary missiles that all mortar, metal and glass has abruptly become: Suppose all this. I shall be obliged (and it’s the last thing I feel like doing) to retrace that long mile home, through the firestorm, the remains of the thousands-miles-an-hour winds, the warped atoms, the groveling dead. Then—God willing, if I still have the strength, and, of course, if they are still alive—I must find my wife and children and I must kill them.

As Mark Steyn points out, Martin isn’t nearly so concerned about molten eyeballs these days. Possibly he should be.

Posted by Tim B. on 04/23/2006 at 10:43 AM
    1. Er -married Martin? Are you?

      Posted by crash on 2006 04 23 at 11:15 AM • permalink


    1. It’s interesting to note that whenever these people talk about millions or billions dying to save the earth, they automatically assume that they will be among the survivors.  I think it’s a case of having read too many romantic apocalypic novels from the 60’s and 70’s, where the survivors form an idyllic egalitarian society in which nobody starves or has to work hard, and there’s plenty of time for plucking your guitar and having sex among the flowers.

      Posted by RebeccaH on 2006 04 23 at 11:46 AM • permalink


    1. In the romantic post-apocalyptic SF novels from the 1950s through the 1970s that I read, the survivors (if any) pretty much ran around killing each other. Sometimes they ate each other, too.

      I miss those days.

      Posted by Professor Froward on 2006 04 23 at 12:00 PM • permalink


    1. Gotta watch out for those “warped atoms”.

      Posted by Jorge on 2006 04 23 at 12:05 PM • permalink


    1. Rule One in the Amis Family Survival Handbook: Hide from Dad.

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2006 04 23 at 12:21 PM • permalink


    1. So if there’s a NON-nuclear war, does he just go home and beat them severely?  Did he only give them a good kick after the Tube bombings?

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2006 04 23 at 12:22 PM • permalink


    1. It’s because they all read The Stand.  The resurgence of democracy will come about because only a few people live and thus are able to be knowledgable citizens, like in those old-fashioned NE townhall meetings, instead of this big, overpopulated, messy democracy where every dolt has a vote!

      I wonder how much climate change will occur after Iran bombs France.

      Posted by ushie on 2006 04 23 at 12:32 PM • permalink


    1. What was that movie were Charlton Heston had to fight the nuclear mutants?  Was one of them Martin Amis?

      Posted by ushie on 2006 04 23 at 12:33 PM • permalink


    1. Soylent Glow is radioactive people!

      Posted by Rob Read on 2006 04 23 at 12:35 PM • permalink


    1. I liked the lads’ science fiction where scientists gather in London to save the world.  Fred Hoyle did those, I think.

      Global warming may be due to something happening in Andromeda that needs attention.

      I think all London does now is catastrophic Atlantic tidal wave worries, which apparently doesn’t get funding in the US.

      I live at 1100 feet elevation, myself.

      Posted by rhhardin on 2006 04 23 at 12:54 PM • permalink


    1. Gee, it never occured to me to kill my family afterwards. The goal was to survive.

      The Army SOP is to “brush the radioactive dust from your clothes and continue the mission,” which got me in trouble with the drill sergeant for laughing.  Giving a rationale (MI has to know why) he said, “Why notcontinue the mission? You got anything better to do?”
      Hmm, guess not.

      Posted by Donnah on 2006 04 23 at 12:54 PM • permalink


    1. #8: Omega Man, ohh and they were bio-warfare mutants, not nuclear mutants. That said, the mutants in question were fairly resilient and were determined to build a new society out of post-Apocalyptic Los Angeles. I just can’t imagine this Martin Amis fellow having the guts to fight Colonel Dr Charlton Heston and his enviable gun collection.

      Posted by AussieJim on 2006 04 23 at 02:05 PM • permalink


    1. Donah — In an NBC environment you NEED your family.  SOMEBODY has to take their mask off first…

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2006 04 23 at 02:07 PM • permalink


    1. Now I’m thinking “mutants” is a racist term…

      Posted by ushie on 2006 04 23 at 02:24 PM • permalink


    1. Ushie — The preferred term is “persons of slime”

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2006 04 23 at 02:52 PM • permalink


    1. Martin Amis can be, on occasion, a very good writer but there is some way in which he represents the perfect example of the idiocy of the chattering classes.  Here’s a man who spent the 80s fearing a Reagan-led catastrophe (as this gorgeous example of wallowing in morbidness shows), yet didn’t discover that Stalin was really, Really Bad until about a decade and a half later (at which time he promptly sold a book proposal about his amazing discovery).

      15 years from now, when we’re looking back on the final days before the nuclear exchange with Iran that so changed our world, people will use writers like him the way Chamberlain’s “Peace in our time” is used to show the astonishing obtuseness to the real threat.

      Posted by Mike G on 2006 04 23 at 03:16 PM • permalink


    1. Has Amis considered *serious* counseling, or meds, depending?

      Posted by steveH on 2006 04 23 at 03:25 PM • permalink


    1. Then—God willing, if I still have the strength, and, of course, if they are still alive—I must find my wife and children and I must kill them.

      I reckon that the missus read these words and followed them up with a summons for divorce proceedings, yes?

      Posted by Major John on 2006 04 23 at 03:39 PM • permalink


    1. Richard- Ahh, someone being told to demask, and the face like a thundercloud revealed. Good times, good times for this non-canary.

      I have a visceral reaction to twirpy guys like Amis. I can’t imagine what method he thought he was going to use to kill them. Force them to slip on banana peels, I guess.

      Posted by Donnah on 2006 04 23 at 03:46 PM • permalink


    1. ”…the groveling dead…”?

      To whom are they groveling and why?

      You sure this guy wasn’t already exposed to some kind of dangerous fallout.  I mean, something must account for his dementia.

      Posted by saltydog on 2006 04 23 at 04:32 PM • permalink


    1. I thought that the only place that was going to survive was Oz and environs. And according to a series of documentaries I saw, you’d be best advised to save all of the gasoline that you can and not worry about what the wife and kids are up to.

      Do you live next to a gas station, Andrea? (And you’d better kill any Pommy writers who live in the neighbourhood, just to be on the safe side.) Oh, and I’ll be happy to post you some ice hockey equipment; it might come in handy too.

      Posted by andycanuck on 2006 04 23 at 05:04 PM • permalink


    1. Donnah — Actually, I noticed the manual was short on suggestions on how to get a scared 18-year-old with an automatic weapon to take his NBC mask off…

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2006 04 23 at 05:34 PM • permalink


    1. The mullahs won’t get a chance to nuke us because, thanks to rising sea levels, Tehran will be under water.

      Works for me.  I imagine there’ll be some really nice beachfront property available all around the Middle East by then.

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2006 04 23 at 05:37 PM • permalink


    1. Ah, yes, The Omega Man, a not too terrible version of the novel I Am Legend.  One of those books that had the survivors of (insert desired catastrophic depopulation of Earth here) eating each other afterwards.

      Odd, suddenly I’m hungry for some meat……

      I’d forgotten that there were several movies loosely based on the book.

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2006 04 23 at 05:45 PM • permalink


    1. I was referring to books like Davy, by Edgar Pangborn, and Earth Abides, by George R. Stewart, and Alas, Babylon, by Pat Frank.  Of course, there was also The Long, Loud Silence, by William Tucker.  I guess I forgot about the killing and eating parts.

      Posted by RebeccaH on 2006 04 23 at 05:53 PM • permalink


    1. “You sure this guy wasn’t already exposed to to some kind of dangerous fallout?”

      “A higher education”

      Posted by yojimbo on 2006 04 23 at 06:53 PM • permalink


    1. “The preferred term is “persons of slime”.”

      “Persons of differing appearance and body parts”?

      Posted by ushie on 2006 04 23 at 07:28 PM • permalink


    1. As they would say here, “Amis don’t go home.”

      Posted by PW on 2006 04 23 at 07:54 PM • permalink


    1. Richard- We were taught that the lowest-ranking member is to serve as the air-tester (which sounds SOP), and if he’s not willing, you make him (which I’m not sure about).
      Our NBC alarm kept going off, so we got in some good practice on this one.  The people of the same low rank would say their enlistment dates, then a sergeant would point.
      When the mask came off, there was always a pissed-off person standing there. Heh.

      Posted by Donnah on 2006 04 23 at 07:55 PM • permalink


    1. Richard-I noticed the manual was short on suggestions on how to get a scared 18-year-old with an automatic weapon to take his NBC mask off.

      Really Richard, why waste a perfectly good 18 year old private when you have lots of 2nd lieutenants around?

      Posted by 91B30 on 2006 04 23 at 08:03 PM • permalink


    1. …why waste a perfectly good 18 year old private when you have lots of 2nd lieutenants around?

      Funny, I heard that during my officer’s basic course in 1979.  Some things never change, do they?

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2006 04 23 at 08:13 PM • permalink


    1. Alas, Bablyon had some creative human munching, as I recall.  Earth Abides didn’t.  But I take your point, Rebecca.

      Still, I wouldn’t trust any surviving lefties after the next Apocalypse.  Stick in ‘em in the freezer for the next barbeque, says I.

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2006 04 23 at 08:16 PM • permalink


    1. Speaking hypothetically, of course.  Should there be an Apocalypse, I mean.  Until then, I will continue to enrage PETA by chomping on choice cuts from all those poor widdle cows, pigs, chickens, and ……

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2006 04 23 at 08:18 PM • permalink


    1. Climate Change might be the choice opportunity to finally create that “B Ship”, the Noah’s Ark style space ship we create to save humanity by sending off select VIP humans into space so the race can continue to evolve on some distant planet while the rest of us goons perish back here in the polluted evirons we have created. People like this Amis, Bono, Michael Moore, most of the ABC… they’ll all be given seats. Of course they won’t know that due to a “miscalcuation” the trajectory will have it attempt to pass straight through the sun. The Simpsons and Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy both had similar things.

      Posted by HC44 on 2006 04 23 at 09:44 PM • permalink


    1. I think Amis must have been channelling Neville Shute’s On the beach where after a nucvlear war the only country left was Australia.  But the radioactive cloud was slowly approaching form the northern hemisphere.  In the end (spoiler alert! You know you want to read it:)) rather than die of radiation poisoning families drank cups of poisoned tea and went to sleep together…

      Posted by entropy on 2006 04 23 at 10:36 PM • permalink


    1. …why waste a perfectly good 18 year old private when you have lots of 2nd lieutenants around?

      Hey! I resembled that insinuation!

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2006 04 23 at 11:35 PM • permalink


    1. As a fully qualified Telephone Sanitizer, I am appalled at your suggestion, HC44!!

      The Golgafrinchans sent their Telephone Sanitizer population away, along with the rest of the useless third of their population to form a colony on a remote planet (Earth as it happens).

      Ironically, the remaining Golgafrinchan population was then wiped out by a virulent disease contracted via unsanitary telephones.

      Posted by MentalFloss on 2006 04 23 at 11:47 PM • permalink


    1. Well, Andycanuck, there does happen to be a gas station on the corner, but as I don’t have a car I rarely have the occasion to use it.

      Posted by Andrea Harris, Administrator on 2006 04 23 at 11:51 PM • permalink


    1. Just keep it in mind if you want to start a post-apocalyptic village (assuming there are no nearby pig farms, or surviving ALP constituency offices).

      Posted by andycanuck on 2006 04 24 at 03:09 AM • permalink


    1. Exactly when did the world begin paying credence to all of the raving lunatics?  Was it a subtle shift, or did someone lift the rock and forget to smash it back down?  Well, when the tide starts rising, I can only pray that lefty nutjobs don’t float.  I know, it’s a pipe-dream (Michael Moore could serve as a life-boat for at least 60).

      Posted by Texas Bob on 2006 04 24 at 03:33 AM • permalink


    1. #16 Um I thought Amiss was the guy who wrote porn novels in the 60s..

      Posted by crash on 2006 04 24 at 07:52 AM • permalink


    1. o.t.A.W.B.C. tonight continues its social engineering,kicking off with a Brokeback Mountain/Human Tragedy style Australian Story and a “Serves you Right Anti Terrorist Police Force in Britain for Killing an Innocent Illegal Immigrant in the Underground” style Four Corners..
      I had been idly speculating on the contents of the two “quality,flagship” current affairs programmes -4 Cnrs was actually Panorama..from the U.K.
      Go-o-lly we haven’t even got to Mediawitch yet or Andy Namby Pamby bitchslapper Denton..

      Posted by crash on 2006 04 24 at 08:46 AM • permalink


    1. #42 con’t ABC Website FINALLY admits that the “Pro Democracy” forces in Nepal against King Gyanendra are “a loose coalition of some forces with Maoist Forces”.
      It states that the Maoist Forces AIM is to establish a COMMUNIST REGIME in Nepal.
      That’ll be what all them hammers and sickles and red flags were about behind the reporter.
      Other offences -filming rioters being beaten AFTER they have “broken through” barricades to presumably attack the palace.. but not saying so in the voiceover.
      Of course the ABC and SBS should be referring to Coalition forces in Afghanistan and Iraq as PRO DEMOCRACY FORCES.  They NEVER DO.

      Posted by crash on 2006 04 24 at 08:58 AM • permalink


    1. #40 In an post-apocalyptic world there’s enough meat on Michael Moore to keep half of Africa from starvation for months.

      Posted by Ubique on 2006 04 24 at 09:35 AM • permalink


    1. ubique — But the cholesterol…

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2006 04 24 at 10:03 AM • permalink


    1. To complete the Monday night trifecta,ABC Hateline salutes Petro for his leafy South Yarra instigated win and the Slug expounds on asylum seekers,following the obligatory whine about,sigh -AWB..c.Yawny usual fare.
      Everyone have a meaningful Anzac Day….

      Posted by crash on 2006 04 24 at 10:52 AM • permalink


    1. #42 and so eager were they to make the point that they demonstrated israel has a more compassionate & intelligent approach to killing guys in semtex vests. they must have bitten their fingers to the quick agonising over whether to make the jooos look good to make the english police look bad

      #43 abc & sbs promoting commies as pro-democracy? oh dear, when did that start

      Posted by KK on 2006 04 24 at 10:57 AM • permalink


    1. oh & martin amis has always been a misogynistic little (yes, he’s a very short man) prick just like his father was. between them they’ve written one genuinely funny book, lucky jim, and that was by kingsley.  suspect both of them are the brand of poof that is too cowardly to come out, & so spends a lifetime lurching between various seductions & virulent sniping at women to make up for not being brave enough to bugger other blokes senseless rather than marrying a string of unfortunate girlies with seriously defective bullshit detectors

      Posted by KK on 2006 04 24 at 11:08 AM • permalink


    1. Two paragraphs in particular from the Steyn piece shout out to me:

      Environmentalism doesn’t need the support of the church, it’s a church in itself—and furthermore, one explicitly at odds with Christianity: God sent His son to Earth as a man, not as a three-toed tree sloth or an Antarctic krill. An environmentalist can believe man is no more than a co-equal planet dweller with millions of other species, and that he’s taking up more than his fair share and needs to reduce both his profile and his numbers. But that’s profoundly hostile to Christianity.

      Not only is it at odds with Christianity (something discounted by most environmentalists in the first place), but it’s profoundly anti-Darwinist to suggest that Homo sapiens are but co-equal planet dwellers. If that were actually the case, what the hell would have been the point of a gazillion years of evolution?

      Sue Blackmore apparently believes that she and her fellows are the culmination of that process and that the rest of us can be tossed aside like yesterday’s birdcage liner:

      “Finally, we might decide that civilization itself is worth preserving. In that case we have to work out what to save and which people would be needed in a drastically reduced population—weighing the value of scientists and musicians against that of politicians, for example.”

      There you have these people in a nutshell. They are the Higher Power to whom we must look. They will tell us what we need to know and what we need to do. When the time comes, they will decide the relative value, the worth, of each individual. Talk about your God complex.

      Somehow after the apocalypse, I don’t think retired accountant environmental apostates will rank high on Blackmore’s survivors list. I best take up the violin.

      Posted by Kyda Sylvester on 2006 04 24 at 01:32 PM • permalink


    1. 49 Kyda

      it’s profoundly anti-Darwinist to suggest that Homo sapiens are but co-equal planet dwellers. If that were actually the case, what the hell would have been the point of a gazillion years of evolution?

      “Darwinism” ain’t a religion, and a gazillion years of evolution neither has nor needs a “point.”
      Or if it does, it’s this: “Time passes and new species develop.”

      Posted by Stoop Davy Dave on 2006 04 24 at 01:47 PM • permalink


    1. For an entertainingly stupid post-apocalypse movie it’s hard to beat “28 Days Later.” Want to see Londoners cling so tightly to the Guns are Eeeeeeeeevil idea that they eschew abandoned police armories in favor of fighting highly contagious plague zombies with machetes and baseball bats?  28DL is your movie.

      Posted by Achillea on 2006 04 24 at 01:59 PM • permalink


    1. Well, if there’s no “point” to evolution, then neither is there a “point” to devolution (time passes and old species discontinue) and our enviro friends should cease and desist all their caterwauling about species degeneration. comme ce, comme ça

      Posted by Kyda Sylvester on 2006 04 24 at 02:45 PM • permalink


    1. comme ce, comme ça

      Works for me.

      Posted by Stoop Davy Dave on 2006 04 24 at 03:23 PM • permalink


    1. 48, KK, but your words are so subtle and oblique that I don’t understand your meaning…

      Hey!  Achillea!  Lay off the zombie movies!  Any movies with zombies in it is fabulous by definition!

      Posted by ushie on 2006 04 25 at 02:27 PM • permalink


    1. #54 yeah, too much subtlety has always been my weak point

      Posted by KK on 2006 04 27 at 10:33 AM • permalink


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