Since earliest childhood I have been strangely fascinated by the mystery surrounding the
history of the last days of twentieth century Europe. My interest is keenest, perhaps, not
so much in relation to known facts as to speculation upon the unknowable of the two
centuries that have rolled by since human intercourse between the Western and Eastern
Hemispheres ceased--the mystery of Europe's state following the termination of the Great
War--provided, of course, that the war had been terminated.
From out of the meagerness of our censored histories we learned that for fifteen years
after the cessation of diplomatic relations between the United States of North America
and the belligerent nations of the Old World, news of more or less doubtful authenticity
filtered, from time to time, into the Western Hemisphere from the Eastern.
Then came the fruition of that historic propaganda which is best described by its own
slogan: "The East for the East-- the West for the West," and all further intercourse was
stopped by statute.
Even prior to this, transoceanic commerce had practically ceased, owing to the perils and
hazards of the mine-strewn waters of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Just when
submarine activities ended we do not know but the last vessel of this type sighted by a
Pan-American merchantman was the huge Q 138, which discharged twenty-nine
torpedoes at a Brazilian tank steamer off the Bermudas in the fall of 1972. A heavy sea
and the excellent seamanship of the master of the Brazilian permitted the Pan-American
to escape and report this last of a long series of outrages upon our commerce. God alone
knows how many hundreds of our ancient ships fell prey to the roving steel sharks of
blood-frenzied Europe. Countless were the vessels and men that passed over our eastern
and western horizons never to return; but whether they met their fates before the belching
tubes of submarines or among the aimlessly drifting mine fields, no man lived to tell.
And then came the great Pan-American Federation which linked the Western Hemisphere
from pole to pole under a single flag, which joined the navies of the New World into the
mightiest fighting force that ever sailed the seven seas-- the greatest argument for peace
the world had ever known.
Since that day peace had reigned from the western shores of the Azores to the western
shores of the Hawaiian Islands, nor has any man of either hemisphere dared cross 30dW.
or 175dW. From 30d to 175d is ours--from 30d to 175d is peace, prosperity and
Beyond was the great unknown. Even the geographies of my boyhood showed nothing
beyond. We were taught of nothing beyond. Speculation was discouraged. For two
hundred years the Eastern Hemisphere had been wiped from the maps and histories of
Pan-America. Its mention in fiction, even, was forbidden.