Waiting For the End of the World
"Something terrible is about to happen.
"The time is early in the twenty-first century. The locale is Australia. But the world as we know it no longer exists. Cities are now armed fortifications, their populations kept docile by the regular administration of government-approved drugs. Elsewhere, bands of desperate people roam the open countryside, abandoned by the powers that once shaped their lives.
"In the hills near a major city, a group of young people are struggling to survive. Drugs and sickness have taken their toll and they live in dread of the Patrol and its helicopter gunships. Kathy plans a better life for herself by moving north to the high country, but the neurotic Liz can only rage and hurl her anger at the sky. Simon wanders like a wraith through the forest, rediscovering survival skills from another rime, while the aged Campions watch over the young exiles and do what they can to help.
"Manfred Waring stumbles upon this strange community when he is close to death. He is slowly nursed back to health, only to discover that his flight from the city has somehow robbed him of his memory. His life becomes a torturous experience, a see-sawing progress through time, obsessed by visions of the ancient world and haunted by figures from the remote past. As he gropes his way towards an unimaginable destiny, he and his friends are swept up by the forces preparing to re-shape the world and ultimately bear witness to a catastrophe that is both an ending and a new beginning for them all.
"In this latest novel Lee Harding again reveals understanding and compassion for the confused young people of today, and in this gripping portrayal of teenage exiles in a world not very far removed from our own he has fashioned a remarkable metaphor for the coming times.
"Waiting For the End of the World is a truly Australian novel. From the evocative opening in a rainforest to the stunning climax, the sights and sounds and scents of the Australian hills are present in every page - just as Displaced Person captured so well the urban landscape of St Kilda."
"Lee Harding is the perhaps the writer high-school teachers and librarians have been looking for." - Maurice Saxby
"..lingers on the mind in the most haunting way." - Walter McVitty
Manfred decided he would make a longbow.
The task took him almost a year. He first had to search the hills until he found a tree suitable for his purpose. Choosing a sturdy oak, he cut down a fine, straight-grown stave and trimmed it. Then began the long process of curing and seasoning the wood.
He carried the stave to a secret place hidden deep in the forest, where a small stream plunged through a tangled ravine. Here, where all nature seemed crowded close together and the air was rich with the moist, dark smells of the earth, he placed it to rest in a shallow pool. He anchored it in position with heavy stones, and there it remained for two long months while the steady flow of water drove sap from the wood.
When he felt sure that enough time had elapsed, he removed the stave from the pool and brought it back to the house. He dried and inspected it thoroughly. Pleased with his success so far, he transferred the stave to a dry, well ventilated position on a rack in the workshed loft, where the seasoning commenced.
The stave remained on the rack for six months. Throughout this critical period Manfred continued to work upon it, gradually peeling back the bark until the wood lay bare. Then he began the final shaping of the bow.
From the Hyland House hardback edition, 1983.
This page and its contents are copyright © 2003-06 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.Return to Lee Harding page.
Last modified: May 1, 2006.