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4.1 out of 5 stars11
4.1 out of 5 stars
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2001
A fabulous book. The tale of a transcript turned book from papers sent to the author. The book centres around Adam, who by a strange turn of events avoids the purple cloud which wipes out every living thing. He goes on a descriptive journey all over the world, of a believable and eerie future, where we all want to survive, but wouldn't want to survive alone. Finally Adam settles in one place, documenting his building project, pyrotechnics and possession accumulation along the way, to the backdrop of an empty earth's weather upheaval. The reader can sense the madness which would creep in if we were to be so isolated forever......Adam goes through it all. An incredibly compelling book (with a nice twist at the end) which should be made into a film.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2008
There are books that entertain and those that amuse, some shock and some amaze. This book grabs your core and swings it around the room until all the things you'd previously thought have to be revisited. It's, quite simply, a masterpiece and will knock your socks off.

Written in 1901 it has a tremendous gravitas that only writing of that era seems to own, it manages to be knowing and innocent and never fails to hit home with every magnificent, engrossing turn of the plot. The only danger is that the reader spends more time pondering what he would do in the circumstances described rather than concentrating on the book. It is rare that you finish a book and your main motive is to find a quiet corner and re-read it, but that's what the Purple Cloud will do to you. A dark, unforgiving, magestic masterpiece that puts the flimsy, gimmicky modern writers to shame. Buy it, read it, recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 September 2015
[testo italiano in fondo]
Published in 1901, this novel seems to anticipate something of the atmosphere of another sci-fi classic, Stanislaw Lem's Solaris; it could even be possible that Lem had read it and draw some inspiration from it.
The Purple cloud is full of visionary suggestions but it is not made of only that. I found astonishing similarities between the happenings at the end of the book and issues concerning the very recent use of social media as a substitute for vis à vis relations, although that is not the only use that can be done of them. With his admirable frankness, Shiel proves that man has always been the same and that was already in search of the refinements of today's means of communication. I'm sorry this can't be explained better without revealing something of the plot; so it shall be (possibly!) understood at the very end of the book. In this respect it is advisable, as in almost all cases, not to read the introduction which vainly reveals the full story in few pages beforehand.

Questa storia, pubblicata nel 1901, pare anticipare l'atmosfera di Solaris di Stanislaw Lem, un altro classico della fantascienza; sembra quasi che lui lo abbia letto e abbia da li tratto qualche ispirazione.
La nube purpurea abbonda di visionarie suggestioni ma non è fatta solo di quelle. Ho trovato delle incredibili somiglianze tra gli avvenimenti alla fine del libro con il recentissimo uso dei social media come sostituto di incontri reali vis à vis, benché questo non sia l'unico uso che se ne può fare. Con la sua ammirevole franchezza Shiel dimostra che l'uomo è sempre stato lo stesso, e che già era alla ricerca della raffinatezza degli odierni mezzi di comunicazione. Mi dispiace che la cosa non possa essere spiegata meglio senza rivelare la trama; si potrà capire (spero!) quasi in fondo al libro. A questo proposito è consigliabile, come nella maggior parte dei casi, di non leggere l'introduzione che rivela inutilmente tutta la trama in poche pagine.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 30 October 2012
This book is something special. I came across it by accident and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a pioneer of the last man novels but what I most like about it is that it is a pioneer of the schizophrenic novel too. The main charachter Adam Jeffson slips in and out of psychosis throughout this book and battles with the darkside and the light. He calls these black power and white power. This is a theme in many schizophrenics life, I know this from personal experience. M P Shiel as far as I know did not suffer from mental illness, but he has a good insight into the condition. Remember Shiel wrote about the anti hero with full blown psychosis many many years before Philip K Dick got there.

The writing is like H G Wells on acid. It deserves a wider readership. It's one of the best reads that I've come across in a long time IMHO. If like me you are a fan of the old long dead authors you should buy this book. I'm sure that you'll enjoy it. If you like the modern horror writers you should probably give it a miss.This book is a not so well known gem and deserves to be more widely read.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
The 'last man' story was not original to M.P. Shiel but "The Purple Cloud" is definitely one of the best examples of it. For me the most distinct and compelling aspect to this novel is how darkly it is written.

Most post-apocalypse style novels make the last man a hero, with a cause and driven by hope. Here, the lead character is already a money-driven murderer before the End of the World has even begun. Without money or fame to spur him on, he finds other reasons to travel the world, setting ablaze whole cities and finding that out of his initial anarchism comes a new structure.

Although the reason for the world's destruction has a faintly 'religious parable' feel to it and the lead characters' names being Adam and Eve, this is not a particularly religious story and if you were to read it as an allegory then it would certainly be an atheist one.

According to the foreword, this is actually the 'milder' version of the novel, that Shiel re-wrote in 1929- the 1901 version of the story is, apparently, rougher and includes extra elements such as cannabalism.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 September 2014
Great print edition, unexpected and extensive annotations at the back. Don't read the introduction until you've read the story though!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 1 February 2014
With its occult overtones and highly-strung language, this early disaster novel is more reminiscent of Poe and Lovecraft than it is of H. G. Wells or John Wyndham, for example.

It starts well. There is a spot of intrigue in London then our narrator, Adam Jeffson, sets sail for the Arctic in a ship packed to the gunwales with period details. After a spot more intrigue en route he reaches the North Pole, which is depicted here as a satisfyingly weird landscape. Amusingly, a completely redundant editor's note informs us that this description is not based on a true account. *

Meanwhile, a purple cloud envelops the rest of the world and poisons everybody. Returning south, Jeffson finds a macabre scene awaiting him, which he describes with some flair. He searches for other survivors, but finds none. This is unfortunate, not so much for him as for us, as the dearth of other characters results in a lack of drama in the long middle section of the book. The narrative drive fades away and Jeffson collapses into decadence. I suppose one should make allowances, given the extremity of his situation, but this is a man whose idea of a worthy activity is to build a bungalow of gold. His prose style doesn't help either. His habit of repeating, repeating words for emphasis starts to drag, and he has a fetish for detail, particularly concerning objects of the Near East, that transcends the evocative and ventures well into the realm of the tedious.

Eventually Jeffson finds a fragment of plot amidst the ruins of Istanbul, but it's too little, too late. Having started with enthusiasm, after 260 pages I was glad to leave his company.

* Excessive annotation is a common fault of Penguin Classics, but this book is the worst example I've found. The notes are occasionally informative, but more usually inconsequential. Worse, some of them refer forward to events later in the book. I advise casual readers to ignore the asterisks, which litter the text like bird droppings.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 11 November 2008
This is a classic book in apocalyptic fiction genre that you'll find in a lot of lists set up by fans on various web sites. It was written at the very beginning of the 20th century but the version I have was published in 1930 after some rewriting. Although most people rave over this book, although it was original at the time, it's nothing special now in my opinion as a lot of similar books have been written since.

The story features a man who goes on a voyage to the North Pole in order to fulfill a challenge and become rich in the process. Partly driven by his fiancee, he basically cheats and murders his way to be first to the pole and win the cash. Of course, in those days expeditions of this type took a long time and by the time he heads for home it's many months after he left England. Everyone he finds along the way is dead, presumably killed by a mysterious purple cloud that seems to have covered the entire globe except, luckily, the North Pole.

The rest of the book follows the man as he travels round the world slowly going crazy. That's essentially it, but it is more interesting than it sounds. The two things that spoiled the book for me were the rather dated language used (which isn't that hard to follow, to be honest), and the horrible personality of the main character, Adam (which for me is a big problem). I didn't get the feeling that he deserved to survive, but maybe that's the point.

If you like end-of-the-world stories then by all means try this book, but I have read a lot more than I found more enjoyable.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 18 March 2014
very good book
very nice
you like sci fi you read this
must be good english to read book this
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2015
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