Books That Might Have Been Great

If the world had blown up, that is

Ice Disaster

I was visiting a local used bookstore this weekend, comparing their inventory to books on my ever-smaller candidate list, when one book caught my eye. Its spine drew my attention because it consisted of mostly just numbers. The book was called 5/5/2000, a gripping title in any genre. In this case, the genre is apocalyptic prophecies. Unfortunately, the book’s full title, Ice: The Ultimate Disaster, gives the plot away early.

Richard Noone, the book’s author, published this handsome volume in 1971, giving him twenty-nine years in which to make editorial clarifications. Forgive the double negative, but Noone made no changes. It’s a good thing, too, because it’s hard to sell an apocalyptic prophecy book called 5/5/2000: See You Tomorrow.

At least Mr. Noone made some prophet profit, having his book revised in the mid-1980s and again in 1997. Another recent contender, Harold Camping, lost an estimated $100 million promoting his 5/21/2011 doomsday scenario. In general, I would shy away from the month of May when making such predictions.

Other authors doing well despite their interesting eschatology include Pat Robertson (author of The End of the Age, who predicted the world would end by November 1982), Hal Lindsey (author of The Late, Great Planet Earth, who predicted that Russia would wipe out America in the 1980s, and that Christians would leave planet Earth by 2000), and Bob, from the Mayan Bureau of Scheduling, although I hear that there is an opening in that department.

Full Disclosure: I read Robertson’s end-times thriller The End of the Age in the late 1990s, and although Los Angeles is wiped out early in the book, as is standard for the genre, I continue to live in Southern California. I leave my views on Mr. Robertson’s end-times prognostications as an exercise for the reader.

I’m always a little dubious of prophecies that pinpoint a day for God’s wrath. But it worked for Noah, so maybe these authors have the right idea. One reviewer for Richard Noone’s 1997 update to Ice calls the book a “timeless classic.” Perhaps it’s not about getting the content right. If modern politics has taught us anything, it’s that a well-told disaster story is much better than reality. So Mr. Noone, Mr. Robertson, and Mr. Lindsey: Thank you all for a great story!


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