Winner of the first International Fantasy Award. 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.
Published to great acclaim in 1949, Earth Abides is generally regarded as the classic tale of life struggling on after a global disaster. This audio edition celebrates the 60th anniversary of this science-fiction masterwork and includes a special introduction written and read by Hugo Award-winning writer Connie Willis.
A mysterious plague has destroyed the vast majority of the human race. Isherwood Williams returns from a wilderness field trip to discover that civilization has vanished during his absence. Eventually, in San Francisco, he encounters a female survivor who becomes his wife. Around them and their children a small community develops, but rebuilding civilization is beyond their resources, and gradually they return to a simpler way of life.
©1949 George R. Stewart (P)2013 Audible Ltd
"A profound, poetic, post-holocaust novel of immense stature: so special I wanted mine to be the only copy." (Garry Kilworth)
In my humble opinion, Earth Abides is an outstanding read/listen, although undoubtedly a book of its time. Published in 1949, it compensates for its slower pace and lack of sensationalism with a depth that is rarely encountered in more modern post-apocalyptic literature.
If you're looking to take arms against flesh-hungry zombies while fleeing the depraved offspring of a nuclear winter, then this isn't the book for you.
But if it's more your cup-of-tea to indulge in a philosophical exploration of mankind's nature, via the vehicle of an individual's journey through the dawn of a new age, then you might want to run this one up the ol' flagpole to see if it flutters,
I found Earth Abides to be challenging in content (although accessible in tone), thought-provoking and surprisingly moving ... or possibly I'm just a big girl's blouse.
A man with a child in his ears - @shutterspin.
This is a fairly heartwarming story that pulls few punches. As with many books though while the start builds up the situation nicely it then trails off a bit and is very slow burning. The main protagonist Ish develops strongly throughout the book from the bravado of youth through to the passive vulnerability of the very old.
My problem with the book was that it was just a bit too slow. Ish ponders at great length about many of the developments and by modern standards this slows the story down considerably. There's nothing wrong with that per se but some of the "ponderings" really did amount to little more than listing the possible explanations behind events that had occurred rather than adding anything interesting or useful.
Overall though I'd still recommend this book. It's an interesting look at the social aspects of a post apocalypse world and the author reveals a lot of thinking about base human nature. A good book, but no roller coaster ride!
Words are my music and audiobooks virtually my favourite art form. Very fussy about narrators and intolerant of lazy performance.
I have deliberately not read any other reviews of this book, in an effort to come to it fresh.I mentioned it to a friend, but only to say I thought it was an interesting comparison with The Day of the Triffids, of almost the same date, which explores various social structures that people try out after the disaster.The book is written in an archaic, mannered style which I found got rather repetitive. After the first shock, which is never really explained, nothing much happens. I found Ish, the protagonist, rather annoying too. He seems to spend about 40 years doing very little to prepare his descendants for the future or pass on any of the accumulated knowledge of his civilisation. For instance, although food, security and other daily living activities do not seem to take much time or energy, he does not teach any of the younger people to read. After a short time, they give up trying to grow food. Ish simply sits and watches as the remnants of US (no suggestion that other countries exist) become hunter gatherers who think the sun goes round the earth. He is completely passive. Maybe the message is that human civilisation will pass away and there's absolutely nothing we can do about it, so no point trying.
The narrator uses a rather monotonous, almost reverential tone with little change of pace. I thought there were quite a few false emphases in his reading which changed the meaning from what must have been intended. One character is described as having a tinge of accent from the North of England - and when he speaks, he first sounds like an Australian, and later Irish. These days, we are used to actors producing flawless regional accents so I thought this was quite poor. The voices of other characters are not much distinguished from each other - the narrator just speaks their words. Maybe this was a deliberate choice, I don't know.
Possibly to read some other classic post apocalyptic works.
Other annoying features of the story - apparently it was too much trouble to find out how to train horses, although there were horses around immediately after the shock, and there were books in the public library, fodder and plenty of time. However, it seems they had the wherewithal to train dogs for sleds and hunting. Also, when the group gets typhoid, many of them die. Somebody mentions sulphur pills, an early form of antibiotics (which are now the treatment) and discovered in 1932, but they don't bother to go and find any or indeed any other medicines. Several of the adults can read, there is a public library nearby, they have transport and there are ruined drugstores, but they make no effort. Neither does the typhoid experience prompt them to lay in any other medicines afterwards in spite of the fact that disease is their main fear.
I would recommend this to anyone liking post-apocalyptic stories and even to someone who wouldn't usually read these.
This story has stayed in my mind since I first read it, I even bought the book earlier this year, but Audible beat me to reading it! What a treat. Just like the whole story and long view.
When Ish meets Jack. Won't say more as it could be a spoiler.
For anyone who hasn't read the book before, please do you best to work through the prologue...I hadn't expected this unwanted interruption to the start of this great story and if I hadn't already read the book, could have been put off listening altogether.
Yes. This is one of the best books I've ever experienced. The writing is brilliant, the story incredible. I've told everyone I know about this book.
It's far more about the life after the event, the social aspect. Then the event itself.
The turn of phrase / style of writing is something I'm putting down the time when it was written, it so much more credible than half-baked novels from modern authors.
I haven't read any others in this genre, so can compare.
Connie Willis was very annoying, I skipped through her intro. Jonathan Davis was perfect, 10 out of 10. Would look out for things he's narrated.
Yes… but it's an epic so it's impossible.
It was such a good book I didn't want it to end but there were things I would've changed, just some elements I would've liked more detail about. Quick years were too quick for me!
I would recommend this because it is a hauntingly relevant warning to our modern age that is beautifully read.
This is similar to any post apocalyptic story that deals with the demise of mankind.
I am only about a third of the way through so I have only heard Jonathan Davis as a reader and he expresses the few characters I have met excellently. The main character is nature and The Earth itself which is beautifully portrayed.
It has made me smile, feel pity and feel horror for what could so easily happen to us and we would have no control over the forces of nature.
I only wish that I had discovered this book before and I will listen to this audiobook many times for its power and beauty.
Dont often give reviews but thaught this one was worth a few words, I was pleased to finde this a good down to earth thaughtfull account of the possibilities one might face through the life of this kind of situation, with out the stupidity of zombies. A deeply interesting account of a suvivers life, With a good narrater,
Even before I found out this is one of the earliest major post-apocalyptic novels, it stood out to me as innovative and interesting. It brilliantly explored what would happen not just to people, but to the plants and animals and land itself all told from one man's point of view, luckily for us an observant geographer.
The subsequent culture that is created is quite unlike anything else I've read and I was pleased that things do not turn out as I quickly imagined they would having read other examples of this genre.
The overarching feeling to the book is one of melancholy, but without being sad or depressing. Rather, slightly cold and objective. The only parts I didn't enjoy were the author's lapses into dramatic poetic prose, which whether original or quoted, simply didn't interest me and seemed to jar against the observant nature of the book.
This is the kind of book that I would like to listen to for many more hours than it actually is. There are so many stories within this book that could be told, and I found myself being disappointed not in the ending, but in the fact there was an ending.
Always up for new listens, particularly crime, thrillers, Nordic noir and historical fiction. Rom Com and chick lit need not apply...
Stewart paints a story of Ish, one man in a vastly depleted America, as well as charting the absence of mankind and its effect on the flora and fauna. It's eminently believable and draws you into what you would imagine to be a grim tale which is often anything but.
Swan Song from the 1980s covers the fall out from a nuclear war, whereas this book's premise is that a plague has wiped out most of mankind.
Solidly expressive American
What do you do when no-one's left living?
Yes - when a book has been gifted by the perfect narrator it enhances and transcends the pleasure of the book. Other perfect narrations that come to mind are 'Life of Pi', 'American Pyscho', 'His Dark Materials' and 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time'.
How deceptively simple it was and yet how quickly it drew you in.
Connie Willis does the introduction: herself a great writer (and the most lauded with awards in the history of science fiction) she talks of the book's lasting legacy since it was first published 65 years ago and why she and so many others love it. As for the actual Jonathan Davis - what can I say? I salute you!
Yes, you would find yourself grunting or smiling ruefully - and the pitch-perfect delivery of the novel's closing passage... yeah, that hits you.
Bought an old paperback of this 20 years ago, never got around to reading it and then finally, with audio, figured I'd get someone else to do all the work and read it to me! Glad I did, for a great 15 hours listening pleasure was had!
"Slow and very drawn out in the end"
Given the time at which this book is written (and it really needs to be considered when listening so as to understand it a little better), this is a very good story. The look into human nature in such a post apocolyptic event is very interesting. The story is very drawn out in the end, the last couple hours being more of an epilogue that doesnt really add much or finish off too many storylines
"Amazing and wonderful book"
I absolutely loved this book. Even though it was quite long every moment was worth listening to.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.