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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 13 May 2017
No zombies, no savage murdering lunatics and no real drama. This is how it would be. This is a very special book, a real tribute to the observer, the pondering eye.

Billed as the grandfather of apocalypse novels I must say I agree. I would liken this to the black cloud by Fred Hoyle in its style.

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on 30 March 2017
A thoughtful treatment of a post pandemic Earth and the steps taken by a sensitive young man to ensure his and the species survival.
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on 31 May 2017
I read ts as a teenager, it must be me that's moved on. Nothing wrong with the post apoclyptic scenario though
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on 18 July 2017
First read many many years ago, purchased on Kindle for nostalgia, still as good today !
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Very good read.
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on 19 July 1999
Reading Earth Abides what struck me most was not the story, though this was certainly well told and presented, but how bravely the book took an unusual tack on its chosen topic: the survival factor of our civilisation and man himself when measured against geologic or cosmic time as represented by the planet Earth. Normally we are reasured that the embers of civilisation and man will never go out, and that we will always triumph as a species. Almost every film, book or play impresses this perception upon it's audience. And at first, as Isherwood works to rebuild, it seems Earth Abides will follow the same route. Then things start to change, and the reader begins to feel an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of their stomach; Isherwood's attempts start to fail, and the flickering ember of 20th century civilisation begins to dim. At the last, time takes its own course, and our ability to outlast even our own planet, never mind spread to the Universe as many SF books believe, is brought into question. And it is with this that the book triumphs. We are asked to question our entire society, and its true prospects for survival. One of the few books I've read that made me question the daily trip to the office, not from the point of view of myself, but my entire species, and to wonder what on Earth we are doing to ensure the real future of our species.
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on 10 December 2012
Finished reading this today. Having gained an interest in Sci-Fi over the last couple of years, I have read a few of these SF Masterworks.
Earth Abides leaves me with a just a few doubts. I thought it started well and I happily got through the first hundred pages or so. The premise of being left in a world without the society one used to know is interesting.
I suppose by necessity a description of how the whole world was changing was not possible as it set from the perspective of one central character, hence it must focus on that smaller aspect of his world.
This meant that fair portions of narrative focussed around his thoughts of how his Tribe were forming. At times this seemed to drag on a bit and become a bit preachy.
Wierdly, at times I found myself reading on to get the book finished rather than being entirley rivetted, and yet I wasn't bored either!
That said, having finished it I am happy I did. It ends poignantly and shows some small visions of the future nicley. Completing it actually made the whole worth it.
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on 3 March 2004
This book must be one of the most memorable SF books I have ever read. Well written and thought provoking. Virtually no science involved, just a cracking story with well drawn characters. Like the best SF, it is well written fiction as well as being highly imaginative.
It will stay in your imagination forever.
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on 25 August 2017
Great title, great cover, but that's where the praise ends. Got 14% of the way through it. Published in 1949. Very unengaging and stilted. The main character is utterly irrational, and nasty to boot. I simply cannot warm to him. And the reactions of the few survivors he meets are ridiculous. And it's just boring to boot.
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on 10 July 2009
What would be your first instinctive act you if you awoke to find yourself apparently the last living human after some pestilential catastrophe? It seems that your/our reflex would be to search for someone else, some other survivors. In George R Stewart's thoughtful post-apocalyptic tale that is exactly what sole survivor Ish Williams sets out to do - by driving across America from California, via the South to New York. Along the way he encounters small pockets of individuals, none of whom he feels at ease enough to join. Of course, he does eventually find someone suitable which sets in motion a practical desire to recommence civilisation from scratch, beginning with a distinctly small-town America vision for the future. When Ish and his partner Em are joined by three other unrelated wanderers the possibility of building a community are greatly enhanced. So far, so good. But what happens if your burgeoning community lacks creative energy and prefers to live by parasitism off the remnants of the old? What do you do about education? How do you deal with a cessation of the water supply, for example, or of the arrival of unusual strangers, a crime, or an outbreak of disease? All of these impediments to smooth progress arrive in Ish's expanding community and the author deals intelligently with them all, while simultaneously reflecting on the ecological, Malthusian and genetic conundrums faced by a new population.
I would have loved this book had I read it as a teenager in the 1960s but the world has changed. It can no longer be assumed that the near extinction of the American people can be extrapolated to that of the human race in general. In addition, the old-fashioned edge to Ish's attitudes sometimes borders on unpalatable. Not only is he appallingly dismissive of the intellectual potential of his friends (he himself is an intellectual, a geographer) but even talks in terms of euthanasia when reflecting on the solitary girl in the community with learning difficulties. Overall, despite these flaws, and the writing being much too descriptive for Earth Abides to be considered in the pantheon of top literature, it is an excellent and engrossing work of imagination delivered with pleasing clarity. In the end, though, it is what it is: good quality science fiction.
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