This Is the Way the World Ends
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A darkly comic tale of one survivor’s unintended collaboration with the architects of a nuclear holocaust—and his surprising adventures in the post-apocalyptic world
George Paxton is a simple man, happy enough with his job carving inscriptions on gravestones. All he needs is a high-tech survival garment—a scopas suit—to protect his beloved daughter in the event of nuclear Armageddon. But when George finally acquires the coveted suit, the deal comes with a catch: He must sign a sales contract admitting to his complicity in the nuclear arms race between the US and the Soviets.
Inevitably, the bombs fall, and our hero finds himself imprisoned on a submarine headed for Antarctica, where he and five other survivors will stand trial for “crimes against humanity.” George Paxton’s accusers are no ordinary plaintiffs: They are “the unadmitted,” potential people whose hypothetical lives were canceled in consequence of humankind’s self-extinction. In the months that follow, George’s dark journey will take him through the hellscape that was once the Earth, through a human past that has become as unthinkable as the human future, to his day in court before the South Pole tribunal, and finally into the intolerable heart of loss.
the holster of Holly’s suit… “I’ll bet it doesn’t even work,” said the salesman. “It’s not an Eschatological.” George made a swift, calculated grab toward the utility belt. He heard a sound like a firecracker exploding. The bullet rammed through the left glove of Holly’s suit and entered his stomach, throwing him to the ground. The suit embraced him. He felt nauseated, terrified. A burning poker had spitted him, drilling his bowels. It hurt more than anything possibly could, and yet it did not
jockeys.” A Styrofoam cup caught the stream. George’s hand made a spider over the rim, and he carried the coffee to his guest. “So far I’ve managed to locate all the Erebus personnel but that evangelist, Sparrow.” Brat sucked coffee across his leathery lips. “We’ll be working with a pretty broad spectrum of talent. Wengernook is—” “I met him in the sick bay.” “Impressive guy, huh?” “Nervous.” “Intense. He should quit smoking. Then we’ve got Brian Overwhite of the Arms Control and
Good.” Brat’s face had acquired the color and proportions of a ripe tomato. “I am told that this Project Citrus carries your authorization, sir,” he hissed, rapping loudly on the launching pad of his man-portable thermonuclear device, “and I wish to register the strongest possible objection!” A smile stole out from Sverre’s black beard. “Those Multiprongs just slow us down, and the sooner Grass replaces them with a hydroponic orchard, the better.” His eyes were glittery black discs. His nose, a
approached the gates of a fabulous white city. Its marble ramparts glowed beneath a skull-faced moon. George saw that the pilgrim was himself. “Even in this age of chaos,” said Nadine, “there are places one can go to have one’s fertility restored. The earth has its marble cities.” After swaddling the glass slides in a U.S. Navy bath towel, Nadine slipped them into the pocket of her raincoat. She opened the side of the magic lantern, blew out the flame, and lowered the hot device into a canvas
Learns that One Person on Earth Was Less Guilty than He GEORGE’S SPERMATIDS TREMBLED AS his advocate left the defense table and walked through the mid-morning darkness. It won’t be that bad, he told them. I merely have to explain that I was not involved with smart warheads, damage limitation, any of it. Bonenfant said, “The defense calls George—” “No!” a familiar voice piped up from the back of the courtroom. “The defense calls me!” Theophilus Carter ambled forward stomping on WHEN?