- SHUTE, Nevil
- Working name of UK writer Nevil Shute Norway (1899-1960), who for many years combined writing with work as an aeronautical engineer, specializing in Zeppelins; after moving for health reasons in 1950 to Australia - where he set much of his later fiction - he wrote full-time. Some of his earlier fiction, by taking advantage of his intense and very up-to-date knowledge of aeronautics, verges very closely on sf, and What Happened to the Corbetts (1939; vt Ordeal 1939 US) is a genuine future- WAR tale. An OldCaptivity (1940) is the tale of a man who dreams in a coma (accurately, it proves, and on the basis of data unknown at the time of the dream) of Vikings in Greenland and of their life there; a later screenplay to anunmade film, Vinland the Good (1946), treats similar material. No Highway (1948) deals with metal fatigue as the cause of airplane disasters and waspublished just before the first of the Comet jet crashes that occurred for exactly that reason; the protagonist's daughter seems, as well, to have ESP powers. It was filmed as No Highway in the Sky (1951).NS's twoAustralian sf novels remain his best known. In the Wet (1953), the journal of an Australian outback priest who copies down from a dying man a UTOPIAN vision (or memory) of the British Empire cAD2000, anticipates a time when Australia has become the leader of the Commonwealth, royalty has survivedhandsomely, socialism has faded away, and the Empire is secure. Much closer to the bone was the famous On the Beach (1957), filmed as ON THE BEACH (1959), a near-future DISASTER tale in which nuclear war haseliminated all life in the northern hemisphere, leaving Australia to await the inevitable spread of radioactive contamination - delayed by global wind-patterns - that will end human life on Earth. NS was an excellent popular novelist; his stories demonstrate a seamless narrative skill, and his protagonists are, unfailingly, decent men.JC
Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. Academic. 2011.