Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter January 2016

Letters to the Editor

FROM Curt Chambers

Back in the late ‘50’s I picked up a Readers Digest condense of The Rainbow and the Rose from my grandfather’s bookshelf, started it and couldn’t put it down (was in college at that time and my grades began to suffer).  After that I was hooked on Shute and throughout my adult life have collected every copy I came across (do not yet have a Vinland the Good!!) including some first editions.  When the mood strikes I peruse the collection and re-read what the mood at that time calls; am currently doing Marazan, and before that An Old Captivity. 

Maybe it might be noted here, though, that I have a little issue with the technical aspect of No Highway.  I know that it “predicted” the failure of the Comet but I have trouble believing that it would be possible to mathematically calculate the vibration failure of something as complex as the tail section of an airplane and expect to duplicate that failure with a basic test mode (no variations in temperature, weather, atmospheric pressure, ordinary and extraordinary flying stresses, etc. etc.) and expect to hit that failure within 10% or so.  However, I also know that even though I too am an engineer, I am not nearly in the same class as N. S. was – and so maybe I should keep my mouth shut.

FROM John Page

I keep a Google Alert for Nevil Shute, and I'd say that 99% of the alerts it sends my way are mentions of Shute as author of OTB.  I've never kept track of how often alerts come my way, but I guess there are two or three a month.  One can only hope that these references stir some interest in his other works.

FROM Sally Rosetti

  Sad news to read of John's passing.   I was one of the Viking twins in the play he organized for us at the Hyannis gathering. Was great fun trying to decide what a Viking accent might sound like.  Remember well how little preparation we had, yet how successful it  was.   John Cooper did a lot of work for that event.  I admired his energy and ability to direct a play from distance!!   That is the only gathering I have ever been able to attend, a memorable event  couldn't have imagined ahead of time how remarkable it would be.   Art and Joan were wonderful organizers, will never forget that uplifting experience of participating.  Again sorry news about  John.Thanks for sharing it with us.

FROM Paul Spoff

  I heard of their success but had not seen the video

Something else, totally amazing!

Published on Nov 24, 2015

  Blue Origin’s New Shepard space vehicle successfully flew to space, reaching its planned test altitude of 329,839 feet (100.5 kilometers) before executing a historic landing back at the launch site in West Texas
This is the first time a rocket has self landed, vertically at a preprogrammed landing site.  It looks like it's going to crash into the Earth, then the engine fires, slows it down, and lands perfectly.

FROM Andy Burgess

  I have been reading a book, ‘Churchill’s Bomb’ by Graham Farmelo, which basically traces Winston Churchill’s involvement in and impact on the development of nuclear weapons and power.  I got to the last chapter and after the death of his long time scientific advisor Frederick Lindemann I was startled to come upon this passage: 

  “There was an instance of this [Lindemann’s alleged insights on nuclear matters] in the summer after Lindemann’s death, when Churchill read Nevil Shute’s recent novel On the Beach, set after a nuclear apocalypse in which most of the bombs were encased with a cobalt compound to maximise their destructiveness.  Lindemann had first told Churchill of this loathsome idea, which would later feature in the movie Dr Strangelove, as the basis of the ‘doomsday machine’.  Churchill now believed that ‘the earth will soon be destroyed by a cobalt bomb’.  More in hope than expectation, he sent a copy of Shute’s book to Khrushchev but not to Eisenhower, who was, in Churchill’s view, now too ‘muddle-headed’ to benefit from it.”




We are just into the new year. I hope that you all had a good start and that 2016 may be a wonderful year for all.

I do hope to meet many of you at the inbetweeny, sometime tis year.

From the Netherlands, where the weather is wet and cold. See you next month.