End world nuke

The Journey of Joenes (a.k.a. Journey Beyond Tomorrow) is a 1962 dark Satire written by Robert Sheckley. The novel is written from the perspective of a fictional academic editor and compiler working from a time in the future time after 3000 AD, the story relates the adventures of Joenes, a semi-legendary figure of the 21st Century whose philosophy has permeated the world until a few years before the time of writing. His material comes from five sources--Ma'aoa of Samoa, Maubingi of Tahiti, Paaui of Fiji, Pelui of Easter Island and Teu of Huahine--just as the gospels of the New Testament were compiled from different writers.

From the introduction, the reader learns that this future civilization is dominated by Pacific islanders, especially Polynesians but also Melanasians and Micronesians whose ancestors a great cataclysm that overtook the world during Joenes' lifetime. Also apparent is that only fragmentary information from that time has survived--again like the gospels mostly by oral tradition--and that the people of that future find it difficult to understand the madness of the 20th century. For example the Yalta Agreements are beleived to have been signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Russian Czar Nicholas II and Chinese Emperor Ming.

Although they are aware of its technological achievements they no longer possess, the people of 2000 AD feel neither envy nor technological ambition. Thus they reject the sort of Western European Renaissance recovery of fragments of classical Roman Mediterrean civilization that made possible later Western European imperialism.

Much of the text describes Joenes' adventures as he crosses America from West to East, symbolically reversing the course of American expansion. Born of parents of American origin, Joenes has always lived on the tiny Pacific island of Manituatua. Having lost his job with the Pacific Power Company becaise of an impersonal corporate decision, he decides to visit America. Following his arrival there, he undergoes a series of surreal experiences.

The targets for Sheckley's sarcasm include the topics that are still relevant: communist witch-hunting of the House UnAmerican Acitities Committee (HUAC), classics obsessed political and cultural conservates on college campuses, the ideological absurdities of the Sino-Soviet split, recreational drug use (peyote), the disastrous positive feedback between humanitarian medical aid to the tropics and resulting overpopualtion and starvation, and the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) defenses. The story concludes with an accidental nuclear war and the flight of Joneses and Lum to the Pacific islands.


A similar story comes from Poul Anderson's short story "Progress" in his 1968 collection The Horn of Time, which takes place in a post-apoocalyptic Earth where a future Polynesia (Maurai Federation) competes with a future Bangladesh dominated South Asia (Beneghal) in a resource starved, especially energy poor world. They and the other successor civilizations benefit from their respective technological specializations. In what can be read as an answer to Sheckley, Anderson has one of his charcaters intone the following lesson: "The most brilliant eras of history were always when alien societies came into reasonably friendly contact."

Lum's militant followers, called Lumists, later seek to rid the islands of metal, which they see as the source of problems. Thus same hosility toward metal is expressed by the Finger Baptists in Jim Crace's 2007 novel The Pesthouse. That novel also involves a journey across America, although one already ravaged and post-apocalyptic.


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