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Quiet Earth Paperback – 1 Nov 1981

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Paperback, 1 Nov 1981
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd (1 Nov 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340265078
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340265079
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.5 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,523,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Stephen E. Andrews TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 2 Aug 2014
Format: Paperback
'The Quiet Earth' (1981) is a bit of an SF obscurity. It's probable that more people will have seen the eponymous film version (1985), even though the latter is also relatively obscure. This Text Classics edition is - I believe -the first time the book has been distributed in the UK. Although its author, Craig Harrison, was born in the UK, he relocated to New Zealand in his twenties. Experimenting with rocketry and politics in his youth, he later worked as an English lecturer while producing novels and successful plays. For many readers of literary SF, the opportunity to read a speculative novel set in New Zealand will be enough of a novelty to ensure they pick up this book.

'The Quiet Earth' is a classic catastrophe novel; Hobson, our narrator, awakes one morning to discover that seemingly everyone in the world has disappeared. We watch him cope with the challenge of investigating this mystery, the psychological dangers of isolation and the physical threat that may exist if there are any other survivors who may (or may not) be friendly. Unlike most catastrophe novels, however, there is no immediately emergent or suggestive clues, reason or circumstances to explain why the Earth -or at least the north island of New Zealand - has suddenly emptied. There are no rampant carnivorous plants taking advantage of people blinded by satellite weapons (Wyndham), no bizarre crystallisation of living things after a cosmic event (Ballard), nor are there zombies or viruses that kill off staple crops. In this sense, Harrison seems to set out the fundamental psychic pleasure we derive from catastrophe novels - the world is now nice and quiet, the hideous crowds have gone, we can enjoy a more pastoral existence, like that depicted in George R Stewart's 'Earth Abides'.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Even better than the movie 2 Dec 2008
By JEA - Published on
Format: Paperback
When I began searching for a copy of this book, I couldn't even find a review anywhere online. If you can find it for a 'reasonable' price and you liked the movie that was loosely based on this story, buy it!

This story falls closely in line with other similar books like Empty World by John Christopher and the first section of Earth Abides, before the main character of that story meets all the others. If you liked those books, you're sure to enjoy The Quiet Earth.

I've been a long-time fan of the movie based on this book, but now realize that the movie strayed well away from the main story and outline of the book. After reading the book, I really think of them as two different stories, based on a similar theme and based in the same locations. The book does a much better job of portraying the feelings of isolation and fear experienced by the main character and explores a much different relationship between the other characters introduced later. In fact, one of the biggest differences between the book and movie is how the secondary characters are introduced and handled. It works much better in the book.

Whereas the ending in the movie leaves you scratching your head, the ending in the book works much better, as well.

Highly recommended!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
such a change from the film -well written 12 Aug 2014
By Wazza - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was surprised at how different this story was from the film of the same name.
It was very readable and had a lot more excellent detail. Interesting how long
Ago it was written and yet seemed up to date.
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Didn't work for me 11 Sep 2014
By CK - Published on
Format: Paperback
I have seen the movie a couple of times, separated by several years. Not quite A grade - a bit above B - but nevertheless engaging. Especially the last scene (needs to be redone with modern special effects) with its great soundtrack.

As other reviewers have noted - the movie bears scant resemblance to the book, other than being set in New Zealand and having the main character wake to find himself quite alone.

I found the novel ran and bit hot and cold for my taste. At times it was quite engaging and I had trouble putting it down. Then the writer would dwell, at length, on Hobson's son's autism and the effect of this on him and his wife, or details of his experiments on DNA, at excruciating length. Hence I found myself alternating between avidly reading every line and then skimming great chunks. This also results in the book being quite erratic in style and content, with a consequent loss of clarity.

Edit out about 40 pages and tidy up the rest and it would be a fine sci fi novel. As it is, it is more of a chore to read and less satisfying when that chore is over than it should be.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Writer abuses reader with s--l--o--w, almost non-existent plot development. DNF Gave up after 17 chapters. 15 Dec 2014
By Bill Collins Photography - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The author abuses the reader of this book by making 9/10 of the book unneeded information about what his characters are seeing, doing and thinking.....all without moving the story forwards. The result is that the pacing is terribly s--l--o--w, almost non-existent in this book.

I actually found myself, after reading the first three or four chapters, just skimming page after page, looking for some plot development; but the story seemed to refuse to progress. After seventeen chapters and no plot movement worth mentioning, I finally gave up the the book and quit trying to read it.

I think this is a case where the author wanted to show us what a great writer he was, without any thought about what he was dragging his reader through. The first seventeen chapters could have easily been told in a single chapter, in order to move the plot along and not torture the reader.

This book goes in my DNF pile. I would never recommend it to anyone. I hate to ding any book this badly with a one star rating, but everyone needs to be warned before they spend their money purchasing it.
8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Alright book, better than movie Possible Spoilers 28 Oct 2013
By Synfidie - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read this book after watching the movie and they are entirely two separate entities. So don't go into this book expecting the movie plot.

The Quiet Earth was an..okay book. I felt that the author wrote this using varied methods of `stream of consciousness' and it shows in its random and non-organized writing. By the time I reached the end of the book, I didn't really care what caused the event that made everyone disappear. I really didn't. I think they revealed the reason..maybe? But it was mixed in with such gibberish that I didn't feel like delving through to find the meaning. I figure I'll go with the nonsensical reason the movie gave as to why it all happened.

There are a few main "topics" or themes that this author dwells upon in this book. The main ones being rasicsm and humanities innate ability to do great harm to other people under the guise of doing it for the greater good or doing it under orders or doing it as some humane way of handling a situation..or person.

There are two main characters in this book and its viewed all from the point of view of a geneticist, John Hobson. He meets up with
Apirana Maketu, otherwise known as Api, who was a soldier. Both of these characters are extremely flawed and have to deal with each other in the aftermath of "the event." It explores how they relate to each other and to the outside world. It's their philosophical discussions that drive the main section of the book and it also is about the unsaid and unseen thoughts and forces that surround us and are between us. It also is about the eventual deterioration of humanity and the eventual demise of the ability to relate to other people.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. It is worth a read through, especially if you are a fan of the idea of "what if I was the last person alive?"

Suggestion: After reading it, go to the wiki article to get the wiki's answer for what caused the event if you were like me and just stopped caring.

It is rather ironic that I didn't care what the reason for "the event" is by the end of the book as the book's premise has to do with not caring and apathy. I don't think that was the authors point, however.
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