For ten years, drought conditions around the planet have been worsening. Dr. Charles Ransom, separated from his wife Judith, has been hanging on in the mountain community of Hamilton as the lake and river dry up and people flee for the ocean. Eventually he joins the exodus, while a few religious and other crazies stay and fight among one another. For another 10 years, people fight and steal from one another at ocean's edge, where the government has set up compounds of water distillation plants, but there's not enough for everyone, salt dunes pile up, and near anarchy reigns. When a wild animal from an inland zoo shows up, there's a wild hope that water has turned up somewhere along the way, and Ransom and a small band of others make their way back up the riverbed to Hamilton, there to make a last stand. This is the third of Ballard's four early (1960s) end-of-the-world-scenario novels, originally titled _The Burning World_.
This report prepared by David Loftus