The Hopkins Manuscript (1939), R C Sherriff, 269 pp.
Another item for my ‘obscure book’ list. A friend loaned this to me, saying only, “It’s about how the moon crashes into the earth, but that doesn’t destroy us. People do.”
Sounds like a happy read, right?
Well, there are funny moments. Edgar Hopkins, the narrator, is a persnickety upper-middle-class English countryman who breeds chickens for show (high ha-ha factor right there). Independently wealthy, he lives alone, blind to his snobbish crankiness. Even after the Cataclysm, as society is crumbling around him and he finds his lonely life changed (for the better) by joining forces with a brother and sister in their late teens/early twenties — even then he can’t let go of his sense of propriety. At a village dinner some months after the moon has killed more people than the Black Death did five centuries earlier, he admires the fact that class distinctions have disappeared, and then two lines later happily reports that he spoke to the washerwoman sitting next to him “as if she were my equal”.
Yes, there will always be an England.
Unless the moon decides to crash into the Atlantic Ocean.
In this alternate universe, the moon is hollow, so it collapses into the sea without completely demolishing the world. Most of the population of Africa, Asia, South America, and the Middle East survive with their societal structures intact. Uh-oh for the colonialists! War breaks out, and things look bad for everyone in the northern hemisphere.
My edition includes an afterword by George Gamow analyzing Sherriff’s science. It’s a relief to learn that, if the moon should crash into the earth, we wouldn’t have to worry about subsequent wars. As Gamow so encouragingly put it, “it is not likely that anyone at all could survive this descent upon the earth.”
Good to know. I’ll stop worrying.
So this is the Journey’s End chap. I’d not heard of this book before but it sounds sufficiently offbeat to look out for, so thanks!
Yes, and I see (from that ever-ready resource Wikipedia) that James Whale directed the 1930 film. Cool!
Sounds hilarious. Have you read CS Lewis’ Space Trilogy? Very weird stuff.
Perelandra etc — read it when I was in high school, but could never do it again. The style is incredibly dense. Are you familiar with Olaf Stapledon? His writing is equally weird, but less ponderous than Lewis’s trilogy.
I haven’t read Olaf Stapledon yet – must pick up Last and First Men.
Worth it, I think, for any hard-core sci-fi fan(atic).