Tuesday, April 07, 2009
An Excellent Find
In the early 1980s, around 1983, I read a book called Long Voyage Back by Luke Rhinehart.
When I was growing up, my parents would go to the local paperback book exchange and take in at least two paper sacks of books they had read, and come home with a couple of sacks of books that needed reading.
It was pretty much a genetic given, that I would love to read.
I didn't read much for pleasure until after I got out of high school though. I began to read more and more around the first time I was in college.
I don't read a lot of non-fiction for pleasure. I have to read so much technical stuff for work, and I buy engineering texts to help keep current with technology changes for work, so when I read for pleasure, I tend to read fiction novels. (I do like to read non-fiction about physics and mathematics, however.)
In one of my parent's sacks of paperbacks, I found and read Long Voyage Back.
It was my first post-apocalyptic novel.
Something about the story just struck me, probably because I had always been intrigued by "marooned on desert island" or "last man on earth" type stories and movies.
The book has as it's background, and all-out nuclear conflict between America and the USSR, but never gets very close to the actual bomb sites.
The main character is a US Naval Academy graduate, Navy veteran, and current captain for hire on rich folk's sailboats.
As the story begins, he's coming into Chesapeake Bay to bring a man his sailboat, when a flash occurs to the north. Washington has been nuked.
The story follows this man, the boat's owner and son, and others as they flee fallout to the ocean and for months as they try to survive.
The book has a good, hopeful ending, which I'm a sucker for, and it just really stuck with me.
Over the years I've read many other post-apocalyptic novels, and some were more intricate and complex than Long Voyage Back, but that one always stayed in the back of my mind.
Several years ago, I thought about the book, but couldn't remember the name or author, but since Al Gore was nice enough to invent this here internet thingy, I did a search and found that folks have whole web sites on post-apocalyptic novels.
One site I found had a list of one man's favorite books in this genre, as well as a brief synopsis of each book. I read through his list, and sure enough, he mentioned this book and I was able to relearn the title and author.
I always wanted a copy of this book, but it's out of print, and paperback copies of it that I had seen, can be $15-$20, so I never bought one.
But a couple of weeks ago, I found a web store called Alibris, which has a huge network of book stores and I was able to locate a very good condition hardback version of Long Voyage Back, with dust jacket, for a mere $10.
I couldn't resist. So for less than $15 with shipping, I finally got a good copy of this old favorite of mine. (I'm one of those people who likes to reread books I really like every few years.)
So for me, this was a fun, inexpensive score.
It was great to reread the book.
Some good post apocalyptic novels that I've read:
Long Voyage Back by Luke Rhinehart
Swan Song by Robert McCammon
The Stand by Steven King
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle