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Earth Abides Paperback – 28 Mar 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 345 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey Books; Reprint edition (28 Mar. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345487133
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345487131
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2 x 20.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 998,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Generally regarded as the classic tale of life struggling on after a global disaster, Earth Abides (1949) was George R. Stewart's only venture into SF. Before the first page the human race has been almost completely wiped out by plague. Our hero Isherwood "Ish" Williams discovers a female survivor and fumblingly tries to bring up a new civilization in the ruins of California. It's an elegiac story of loss as humanity makes it through the crisis, at the cost of our race's painfully gathered knowledge--which seems irrelevant to the new generations as they develop a hunter-gatherer society reminiscent of the old Amerindian tribes, and see no practicality in the fabulous tales of the old days told them by Ish. His nickname is deliberately reminiscent of Ishi, the once famous Californian Indian who was also the last of his tribe and became a misfit in a new world, in his case early 20th-century America. Annoyingly for fans of survivalist SF who reckon civilization can be rebuilt in about a month with a Swiss army knife, Earth Abides proposes that the cycle of regrowth will take significant time ... but there is always time. Stewart's title and epigraph echo the Book of Ecclesiastes: "Men go and come, but Earth abides." One of the sadder, gentler Millennium SF Masterworks reissues. --David Langford --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

George R. Stewart (1895-1980) was a Professor of English at the University of California. He published a number of novels, including two studies of natural catastrophe, Storm and Fire. Earth Abides is his only work of science fiction. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Steve Paul on 18 Mar. 2006
Format: Paperback
I first read Earth Abides as a teenager and was greatly impressed with it then. I have now just read it again at the age of 53 after finding it through Amazon. This is clearly one of the greatest's texts I have read and I don't say that lightly. I was deeply moved as I re-read the chronicling of the passing of an era and the great deep wisdom of Ish, the main character. Even more poignant in these difficult days. It has given me great pleasure to to record these words of appreciation. I wonder why it has never been made into a film, but am also pleased as the dignity of the message of this book remains untarnished. If you want to read a profound story on the fragile nature of our civilisation and the great strength of human beings read this.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 17 April 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a beautifully written, quietly profound book that affected me deeply as I read it and has stuck in my mind ever since. The starting point of the book is a catastrophe that all but wipes out humanity, but the real interest lies in the author's exploration of what happens to nature and to the few humans left behind in a world after human society has disappeared.

Ecological changes as the abandoned cities crumble are beautifully imagined (I was reminded of the recently published (sort-of)non-fiction The World without Us), and would on their own be reason enough to read this book. But it's the exploration of the survivors' slow descent into a more primitive way of life that makes this book so powerful. Ish, the main protagonist, is an academic who believes passionately that the accumulated knowledge of human civilisation must be preserved, and he tries to instil his passion for learning in each new generation of the tribe's children. Of course, each new generation is less interested than the last in the teachings of the 'old world', a world which they have never experienced and are unable to imagine. With no reason for anyone to learn anything that doesn't concern day-to-day survival, literacy and numeracy soon die out. This isn't quite a grim descent into primitivism - new skills and customs, more suited to the changed world, take the place of old ones, and Ish eventually comes to a resigned acceptance that when he dies the old civilisation will die with him.

There is a huge amount here besides - religion, superstition, relationships, politics, language - all are dealt with realistically and in service to the plot.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mr. J. P. Robson on 26 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first read read this book back in the sixties and was really gripped by it from the first page. Read it, you don't have to be a SF fan to enjoy it since it is a book about people, their strengths and frailties. (I wonder if the writer of the TV series "Survivors" read it, I enjoyed the first version of "Survivors" but could not empathise with the characters the way I can in "Earth Abides.") I often thought about the book over the years but never attempted to find it, last year my youngest daughter found it for me on her Iphone, based on the clues of rattlesnake and hammer. I enjoyed it much more the second time since I had visited many of the places in the US that 'Ish' goes through on his voyage of discovery.
My other reason for remembering the book was how he finds a car on the Bay Bridge and recalls, incorrectly, (the actual name is John S. Robertson), when he is dying, the name on the drivers driving wheel tag as" James Robson with a middle initial that was E,T, or P. Since my name is James P. Robson it tends to stick in the memory! I am surprised that it has never been made into a film though there have been several 'end of the world' efforts. If they ever should, I hope they don't cast some action man like Bruce Willis since 'Ish' is not a go getting hero but an ordinary man who cares and worries about things. Please read it. Jim Robson
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 25 April 2001
Format: Paperback
I have always enjoyed post-apocalypse stories and approached 'Earth Abides' as another of those, if a somewhat more subtle one. But it is not another one of those. Stewart had an uncanny perception of the natural world and this permeates every page. He describes a seductive, idyllic existence where humans and nature are inseparable. One criticism is that of the 'cosy catastrophe'. The first sixty pages or so are slow, but stick with it because it contains the most moving and heartbreaking death scene in literature ever. It is difficult to believe that it was written a half-century ago, so little has it dated.
This is a quiet book and attracts little attention to itself even within sf. It has yet to receive the wider praise I am sure it will one day attain. If one book ever deserved to escape the constraints of genre fiction and find favour amongst the mainstream this is it. If everyone in the world read it, it is hard to see how the world would not be a better place.
There are downsides though. 'Earth Abides' may well become the bench mark by which every book you read after it will be compared to and your friends will probably get fed up of you talking about it.
Only shut up when they've read it too.
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