View Full Version : "Down To A Sunless Sea"

24th May 2012, 19:26
Anyone read it? 1981 fiction about "Air Brit 797" JFK-LHR that diverts to Antarctica after nuclear war erupts. Written by a Brit, David Graham. Pretty entertaining.

Bedder believeit
24th May 2012, 19:36
Yes, I read it, in the 1980's. The title comes from the poem: "Xanadu" by Samuel Taylor Colleridge:

In Xanadu, did Kublai Khan
a stately pleasure dome decree,
Where Alf the sacred river ran,
Through caverns measureless to Man
Down to a sunless sea!

Sorry, it's 2:30 am in Hong Kong where I am writing this, and I find it hard to do poetic justice to Colleridge's words. Maybe some are wrong.

Al Murdoch
24th May 2012, 20:43
Yeah I read it - sort of an aviation version of "On The Beach".
Didn't the 747 have an extra engine fitted in the tail?

tony draper
24th May 2012, 21:49
Weave a ring around him thrice,
avert thy eye with holy dread
for he on honeydew hath fed
and drank the milk of paradise.

He could not remember the rest because some buggah woke him up.

Milo Minderbinder
24th May 2012, 22:01
If he hadn't been woken up he'd have remembered none of it

And anyway it was the product of an opium addled brain

24th May 2012, 22:02
Yup even to names of some of the people

It was a crap book.

Captain Dart
24th May 2012, 22:58
Agreed. An interesting concept but basically pulp with occasional cringeworthy moments.

The book 'On the Beach' scared the beJesus out of me as a young teenager, the Cold War was at its height and I was growing up in the area in which it was set, south of Melbourne. The film...not so good, and I think Neville Shute disowned it. Ended up flying off HMAS Melbourne though, and remember pictures of Ava Gardner in an old 'line book'. I think they used 'Melbourne' as a stand in for HMAS Sydney.

And apparently it was the director or someone, not Ava, who when asked by an enthusiastic Aussie what they thought of Melbourne (city), replied,

'An appropriate place to make a movie about the end of the world'.

24th May 2012, 23:14
The book 'On the Beach' scared the beJesus out of me as a young teenager

Gave me nightmares as well when a kid. What made it worse was living on a US Air Force Base when I read the book and having all those 'The Russian Bombers are inbound' alerts. :uhoh:

Captain Dart
24th May 2012, 23:36
Yeah, reminds me when I visited Andersen Air Base (B-52's) on Guam during the '80's with my P3 crew. We were in the PX loading up with Weber barbecues when they had a practice alert. I've never heard a siren like it.

I said to the boys, 'this is what the end of the world will sound like'.

25th May 2012, 00:02
Down to a Sunless Sea...
Been on my bookshelf for years,
Not a bad story for a non Aviation person to read but to anyone wanting to nit-pick it has a lot of errors...

Like when the crew are looking for somewhere to land... and it transpires that there was some kind of naval battle just off the coast of Madrid (Madrid? Coast?)... and the reference to two 747's colliding head on at Funchal... to name but two!

And would the fight engineer be actually changing VHF radio crystals in an airliner as reportedly as modern as the type in question?


Lon More
25th May 2012, 00:42
just googoo'd it.

You can download it as an e-book here. (http://blog.yahoo.com/_E77WSAXGEYAD3AGHPXAAEZDK2M/articles/849018)

25th May 2012, 02:44
Yeah, lots of errors, definitely noticed it from an airline point of view.

Still an entertaining read.... especially all of the "British'sms" and the crew/stew relationships, made me think of the golden age of the airlines!

Loose rivets
25th May 2012, 05:55
Of having a sophisticated and classical education: One's mind drifts to my formative years.

"I must go down to the sea again,
to the lonely sea and the sky;
I left my vest and pants down there
I hope they'll still be dry?"

Well, I was thirty years old!:*

Rivets against EDIT notices. Donations welcome. Send a picture of a fiver on a postcard to . . . Oh, darn, it's been edited.:bored:

25th May 2012, 07:44
A much better book based on a B-52 crew. Trinity's Child.

Availsble on the UK site from 1p + postage. :ok:

25th May 2012, 07:59
"Down To A Sunless Sea"

I fail to see where Margate fits in to any of this.


tony draper
25th May 2012, 08:45
Dont recall ever being in Margate, is visiting Margate something one should aspire to before one takes one's dirt nap?

Regulation 6
25th May 2012, 08:47
Am I right in remembering that several people threw themselves out of the aeroplane in an altruistic act to reduce weight, extend range and facilitate an arrival somewhere in Antarctica?

Best not let Ryanair get hold of the book then...


25th May 2012, 08:50
Dont recall ever being in Margate, is visiting Margate something one should aspire to before one takes one's dirt nap? One understands that it's one of the places to which one retires - as the subsequent transition from life to death is imperceptible as they are so similar.....

25th May 2012, 08:53
Read it a million years ago. Technically very inaccurate and a bummer silly ending.

25th May 2012, 09:56
Dont recall ever being in Margate, is visiting Margate something one should aspire to before one takes one's dirt nap?

Happy memories of Margate in the 80s as a place to go while working on an archealogical dig near Broadstairs... it always seemed sunny in the summer of 84.

Good fish and chips, sunny memories of girls and fun. Not a sunless sea at all.


Lon More
25th May 2012, 09:57
Margate? well worth a miss.
Down to Margate

25th May 2012, 11:39
I had a mate in the RAF from Margate.

It wasn't his fault.

You still out there Terry???

25th May 2012, 12:28
I quite liked the idea of a river called Alf.

25th May 2012, 12:54
I quite liked the idea of a river called Alf

I think that Mr Fitzgerald took some huge liberties in his translation of Omah Khayyam's work.

Not sure about Alf. Hopefully not Mr Garnett!


25th May 2012, 13:05
Seems that it flows down to the sunless Moselle, actually.

The Alf is a small river in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, a left tributary of the Moselle. It rises in the Eifel, near Darscheid, east of Daun. The Alf flows south through Mehren, Gillenfeld and Bausendorf, where it turns east to flow into the Moselle in the village Alf.

25th May 2012, 13:11
Seems that it flows down to the sunless Moselle, actually.

Thanks The SSK. :ok:

I suspect that this was more FitzOmar than Khayyam then.

I used to wonder if Omar was related to that bloke who did the Remington razor ad but I guess not.


25th May 2012, 15:07
A much better book based on a B-52 crew. Trinity's Child

Made into a reasonable made-for-TV film "By Dawn's Early Light".

tony draper
25th May 2012, 15:15
Right then I have hired that filum for you,if you all send me a fiver and you can watch it for free here.:rolleyes:
By Dawns Early Light (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7184168563320557608#)

Milo Minderbinder
25th May 2012, 18:04
Lon More
have you actually downloaded it?
the link from that page takes you to a pay site which past experience suggests may be a scam site

25th May 2012, 20:47
I thought it was enjoyable easy reading, let down in places by an amateurish and cliche'd style. But it was better than most of the apocalyptic offerings that seemed to fill the cheap novel market between the mid-seventies and eighties.
Interestingly, David Graham was a WW2 fighter pilot and civilian instructor in later years. His author's note thanks (in particular) British Airways and Captain John Race of Pan-American Airways as regards authenticity!
But that's one of the problems of being in aviation - we're always on the look-out for inaccuracies. :}

25th May 2012, 20:53
Didn't like the book, especially the naff ending.

Don't like Samuel Coleridge Taylor.

Don't like Margate.

My, I am grumpy today! :ooh:

25th May 2012, 21:10
It is interesting how many people,including me,remember a not great book from 30 years ago.
It has obviously left a lasting impression.

tony draper
25th May 2012, 21:13
Well this website is frequented by aviationists were it a website for Cowboys they would prolly all remember The Virginian.

Lon More
25th May 2012, 22:08
Lon More
have you actually downloaded it?
No. IIRC I found it a waste of time when it as first published. Just looked at the site out of interest.

25th May 2012, 22:24
I don't know what I'd think of it if I read it now, but I remember very vividly reading and enjoying it when it first came out. I found it quite disturbing and frightening. The 'Wikipedia' synopsis makes it look pretty pathetic! Down to a Sunless Sea - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Down_to_a_Sunless_Sea)

27th May 2012, 16:17
Yup, it's on my bookshelves, read it several times. I thought the description of being in-flight over the Atlantic when a nuclear war starts was quite frightening.

Put it down and started reading the Stein's novel, "On the brink" - global collapse triggered by US fiscal policy, first published 1977. Swap "Europe" for "US" and you have interesting reading for 2012.

Metro man
28th May 2012, 01:14
WARNING that download site is definitely a scam. Apparently they have books on "Internet use in Ancient Egypt" available. Do a search for any way out title you can think of, they claim to have it. Just need to sign up and pay.:hmm: