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This is the cover of the Pan edition of "Round the Bend" that I own, with its bit of attention-grabbing cheesecake.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A true author for geeks: Nevil Shute (not just for 'On the Beach')

One of my favorite authors is Nevil Shute, the British/Australian novelist best known for "On the Beach," the stiff-upper-lip tale of Earth dying after a nuclear war.

Although Shute didn't write science fiction and his era, the '40s through '60s, was pre-computers and pre-modern tech, he is in many ways the perfect geek novelist. He was an aeronautical engineer whose engineering outlook shaped his writing, most notably in "No Highway," the tale of an engineer realizing that a new jet design was fatallay flawed - echoing events in Shute's own life around the failure of the De Haviland Comet - and "Round the Bend," a brilliant novel that tells of a religion growing up in southeast Asia around an airplane mechanic who approaches life the same way he approaches engine repair.

I mention Shute because BoingBoing had an item about him today (here) that basically says "I just heard of this guy: he's great!" ... a perfectly good reason for a blog post, I'd say. And a good reason for this post, too.

If you've never read any Shute, try "Trustee in the Toolroom" - perhaps the greatest paean to the Maker community ever penned, even though it was four decades before The Maker Community existed.

You can find him at many second-hand bookstores. Shute isn't all that popular these days, but his fan base is big enough that he has an international fan club, called a Foundation (website here).