The Purple Cloud (Bison Frontiers of Imagination) Paperback – 1 Sep 2000
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"Fantastic, weird, macabre ... It is imaginative, fascinating, convincing, as some dreadful nightmare.... A remarkable piece of work, ... head and shoulders above the average tale of fantastic adventure". -- The New York Times Book Review
From the Back Cover
The Purple Cloud is widely hailed as a masterpiece of science fiction and one of the best "last man" novels ever written. A deadly purple vapor passes over the world and annihilates all living creatures except one man, Adam Jeffson. He embarks on an epic journey across a silent and devastated planet, an apocalyptic Robinson Crusoe putting together the semblance of a normal life from the flotsam and jetsam of his former existence. As he descends into madness over the years, he becomes increasingly aware that his survival was no accident and that his destiny -- and the fate of the human race -- are part of a profound, cosmological plan.See all Product description
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Top customer reviews
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.
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.
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.
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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you like sci fi you read this
must be good english to read book this
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