Select one of the keywords
Earth Abides    by George R. Stewart order for
Earth Abides
by George R. Stewart
Order:  USA  Can
Del Rey, 2006 (1949)
Hardcover, Softcover, Paperback

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Isherwood Williams, known to everyone back home as Ish, is spending time alone at a remote cabin in the mountains of northern California. With no radio and no contact at all with the rest of the world, Ish has purposefully isolated himself so that he can remain uninterrupted for an extended period of time as he does important research for his graduate school thesis. However, after narrowly surviving a rattlesnake's bite, a recovered but uneasy Ish decides that it is time to leave his mountain retreat and begin his journey back to civilization and his San Francisco Bay area home.

As he makes his way out of the mountains, however, Ish slowly makes a frightening, bewildering discovery. A devastatingly lethal virus - having moved with remarkable speed and efficiency - has apparently wiped out virtually everyone. Finding dead bodies everywhere and finding no one alive anywhere, Ish quickly begins to realize 'that he might be the only person left in the world.' As Ish tries to comprehend the enormity of the apocalyptic catastrophe and what it now means to him personally, he confronts and ridicules his fears: 'After all {he thought} what am I afraid of? Nothing more than my death can happen. ... Why should I be afraid of that? It can be nothing worse than that.' And thereupon, 'he resolved that if he was to live at all he would live without fear.'

Ish slowly realizes, though, that he is not alone. A few others have also inexplicably survived the acute worldwide crisis. So now begins the incredibly compelling odyssey through which Ish and a few others confront the challenges of rebuilding civilization on earth. With an opportunity for a true renaissance and recovery, Ish will find that he will frequently have cause to consider carefully something a professor had once said to him: 'The trouble you're expecting never happens; it's always something that sneaks up the other way.'

Earth Abides is the harrowing tale of those unexpected troubles. An unforgettable novel that critics originally called an 'epic journey,' the 'ultimate Robinson Crusoe tale,' and an 'utterly unique experience,' George Stewart's vision of a dangerously damaged world - one of the 'most provocative and finely wrought post-apocalyptic works of literature' ever written - is paradoxically both a beautifully written elegiac adventure and - at the same time - perhaps the saddest book you will ever read. Earth Abides invites readers to examine important questions: What is the significance of a human being? What is life? What is civilization? What happens to the natural processes of earth's ecology when human beings are rendered irrelevant? First published in 1949 and first winner of the International Fantasy Award, Earth Abides ranks with On the Beach, Riddley Walker, and Alas, Babylon, and it is as relevant (and frightening) now as it was more than fifty years ago. Don't miss reading (or reading again) this important novel.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more SF books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews