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Slinging tuneage like some fried or otherwise soused short-order cook

14 November 2008

Hello America

By the Year 2030, the American continent had been abandoned. Its great cities were empty. On board the SS Apollo are the descendants of Americans who left their homeland when the economy collapsed. Now, nearly a century later, in 2114, an expedition from Europe reaches the Atlantic coast off what had once been Brooklyn... back cover notes

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" 'There's gold, Wayne, gold dust everywhere! Wake up! The streets of America are paved with gold!'

Later, when they beached the SS Apollo against the derelict Cunard pier at the lower tip of Manhattan, Wayne would remember...

Annoyed with himself - already trembling with excitement like a child - Wayne looked out at the magnetic coast. An immense golden sheen lay over the Brooklyn shoreline, reflected from the silent quays & warehouses. The afternoon sun hung above the deserted Manhattan streets, adding its light to the glittering field above. For a moment Wayne almost believed that these long-silent avenues & expressways had carpeted themselves with the rarest treasures in preparation for just his visit.

Behind the Apollo was the massive span of the Verrazano Narrows suspension bridge, long familiar to Wayne from the ancient slides in the Geographical Society library in Dublin. He had gazed for hours at the photographs, as he had at a thousand other images of America, but he was unprepared for the spectacular size & mysterious form of the bridge. In some ways it had managed to exaggerate itself during that long century it had been forgotten by everyone else. Many of the vertical cables had snapped, & the huge copper-hued structure, covered with rust & verdigris, resembled a recumbent harp that had played its last song to the indifferent sea.

Wayne stared at the approaching city, again unable to reconcile the scene in front of him with the image of the Manhattan skyline he had day-dreamed over in the darkness of the library projection room. Dozens of towers rose through the afternoon light. Even at a distance of three miles the glass curtain-walling of these huge buildings glowed like bronze mirrors, as if the streets below them were stacked with bullion. Wayne could see the old Empire State Building, venerable patriarch of the city...& the 200-storey OPEC Tower which dominated Wall Street, its neon sign pointing towards Mecca. Together they formed the familiar skyline whose peaks & canyons Wayne knew by heart, & which now seemed transformed by this dream of gold...

Not one in a thousand Europeans of Wayne's age would have had the faintest idea what these scenic views represented. Sadly, Europe, Asia, & the rest of the world had long since lost interest in America. But clearly Captain Steiner had guessed that Wayne would recognise them...

'With luck you'll be seeing them soon. Tell me, Wayne, from where in the United States did your family originally come?' He glanced at Wayne's long-boned figure, child-like straw hair. 'Kansas, the Midwest somewhere? You look like a Texan...'

'New England!' Wayne lied before stopping himself. 'Jamestown. My great-grandfather ran a hardware store.'

'Jamestown?' Steiner nodded sagely, careful not to smile as he beckoned Wayne to the door. 'Well, you're going back to the beginning, all right. Perhaps you'll start everything up again, Wayne. You could even be President. From stowaway to the White House, stranger things have happened.' He gazed thoughtfully at Wayne, his shrewd, navigator's face almost serious, set in a curious expression Wayne was to remember for ever.

'Think, Wayne - the forty-fifth President of the United States...' "

by JG Ballard, Hello America, Chapter 1 "The Golden Coast", Triad / Panther Books, 1983.



Enjoy,

1 comment:

  1. Ha! Just wanted to say I like the Ned Kelly in a paper bag pic. Nice.

    ReplyDelete