"This Is the Way the World Ends" is a moving, surreal book dealing with the ultimate cost of World War Three - extinction. George Paxton is one of six survivors saved from the nuclear war. The evacuees are on a submarine heading for the Antarctic, where they will face trial by the "Unadmitted" - the would-have-been descendents of those killed by the holocaust. George had signed a sales contract for a survival suit that would have saved his four-year-old daughter. The contract indicated he would do nothing to stop any nuclear war that may take place in the near future.
A short time later George saw first-hand the results of a holocaust he did nothing to stop. The innocents mutilated by blast, fire and radiation; thousands of years of human progress literally gone within a flash. One of the unforeseen effects of the nuclear war is time distortion. While a day passes for George on the submarine, years elapse for the dwindling population trying to live in a post-holocaust world. A world devastated by the effects of nuclear winter, ultraviolet light, plague, mutation and sterility.
George and his fellow defendents then have to justify their motives for allowing the ultimate atrocity to occur. Guilty or not guilty?
There is a mountain of books out there dealing with the nuclear holocaust, but this novel still comes across as original, sad and witty. You do have to read the book with an open mind. It's like one of those weird French films. I can just imagine the French making a film of something like this, along the lines of "La Jetee" or "Le Dernier Combat". As a satire, this book is excellent. When you find out how the holocaust started, you won't know whether to laugh or cry.
It's ironic to think that our fates depend on the decisions we make. Our lives are in the hands of people we vote for. The decisions seem sensible at the time, but then they become regrettable. In the most harrowing way, this book deals with consequences that come from an abundance of bad decisions.