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The Purple Cloud Paperback – Abridged, February 8, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Dodo Press; abridged edition edition (February 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1406569933
  • ISBN-13: 978-1406569933
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,813,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"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 "Students of early science fiction will welcome the University of Nebraska's Press series Bison Frontiers of the Imagination. This imprint has so far brought back into print sixteen texts from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including works by authors ranging from the well-known Jack London to the more obscure Mary E. Bradley Lane and J.D. Beresford. The publishers should certainly be congratulated in bringing The Purple Cloud by M. P. Shiel back to public attention once more. They have chosen to reprint the authors' own final expanded version ... The 1929 version is vintage Shiel; the lush prose complements the epic theme and the grandiose and insane posturings of the pyromaniac protagonist. Shiel was the most eloquent of the immediate successors to H. G. Wells, and even fans of The Last Man by Mary Shelley might admit that Shiel's account of the journeyings of the last man through a dead world is one of the most impressive treatments of this theme."--TLS, December 29, 2000 "A reprint of a lost classic, Shiel's purple cloud kills everyone except Adam Jeffers, isolated, and getting more insane as he wanders the barren earth. The question of whether man deserves to survive has never been more poignantly poised." --Western Mail Saturday Magazine 16 June 2007 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Matthew Phipps Shiel (21 July 1865 – 17 February 1947) was a prolific British writer of West Indian descent. His legal surname remained "Shiell" though he adopted the shorter version as a de facto pen name. He is remembered mostly for supernatural and scientific romances. His work was published as serials, novels, and as short stories. The Purple Cloud (1901; 1929) remains his most famous and often reprinted novel. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 25 customer reviews
If you like apocalyptic stories, you will find this one unlike anything you have ever read.
Jose Rogelio De Leon
He could have tidied that part up a bit, perhaps shortening it dramatically to give the story the opportunity to breathe.
readnwrite
This is one of the first Science Fiction books that gave me an interest in Sci Fi/ Fantasy books.
Buddy Massey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Marian Powell on August 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I call The Purple Cloud a fantastic fossil because that's what it is. That is not a criticism. I gave it 5 stars. It's simply that the fact it was written in 1911 shows -- both good and bad. Some of the science is off the wall, but I assume accurate for the day. The novel has a fantastic, hypnotic beginning set in the arctic. Like the jungle of Tarzan (written, I think, about the same time), this arctic landscape never existed, but it's a fantastic place of torment for the hero. Why is this book worth reading? The writing is hyptnotic. They don't write like that anymore. Dense, lush with an incredible poetic language, we follow the hero's solitary wanderings across an empty earth. This is a story of the last man on earth. This is a fossil, an archetype for all the later stories about the last man left alive on earth. A purple cloud came by and killed all while the hero was racing to the North Pole. What carries you along is the hero's interior as he undergoes one slow painful change within himself after another as he searches for another survivor, Does he find anyone? That's for the reader to learn. When you see the movies The Omega Man, The Quiet Earth, The Night of the Comet(this is a comedy) and all the other last man on earth movies, this was the great granddaddy of them all.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Greg Hughes on December 8, 1999
Format: Hardcover
A cloud of gas that smells like peach blossom kills nearly every everyone in the world. Adam Jeffson is the only man left. He spends years looking for other people, wandering through the remains of civilization.
One of the benefits of being the last man on Earth is that you would have the freedom to do whatever you want. The planet would be literally yours. Adam takes advantage of this. He becomes more and more eccentric, travelling around the world, burning cities to the ground. He wants to wipe out all trace of humanity, to make it look as if the human race had never existed. This could be put down to a symptom of Adam's growing madness - a madness caused by enforced solitude.
The premise is a good one. "The Purple Cloud" sounds like an HG Wells novel in style. The language is a bit flowery, but I didn't mind that. (The book was published in the early 1900's after all.) When you read this book you travel around the world with Adam and find the same thing - emptyness, stillness, silence. How would you cope?
In 1959 a film called "The World, the Flesh and the Devil" was released. It was supposedley based on "The Purple Cloud", but it had nothing to do with MP Shiel's story.
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Format: Paperback
A purple vapor passes over the world and annihilates all living creatures except Adam Jefferson. 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 wreckage of his former existence. This is one of the most terrifying and most matter-of-fact - post apocalyptic novels I have ever read. This is not a `fun' book, this is not about being alone and able to play in the malls and stores - this is about the `humanity' of being the `last man'.

If you are a lover of apocalyptic works, movies, books etc, you will not want to miss the Purple Cloud. I nearly gave it a miss due to the title, but fortunately for me I did not. Great book, profound and the ending will blow you away.
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21 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Kim Boykin on March 3, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
No one has yet succeeded in reaching the North Pole, and a new British expedition is mounted. As our protagonist, Adam, returns from the arctic, all the humans and many of the animals he encounters are dead. Adam travels all over the world, looking for other living people and, understandably, going kind of bonkers.

I wanted to like this book more. Early in the book, Adam finds himself in many morally challenging situations, but he has these voices in his head that more or less compel him to act in certain ways, so the reader is prevented from really entering into any moral struggles with him. I liked the writing, but each place Adam goes is essentially like the rest--everyone's dead--and I kept waiting for something interesting to happen. Near the end, something finally did, but then I mostly wanted to slap Adam around for being so dense.

Maybe I'm just jaded from reading too many post-apocalyptic stories and that's why I'm not more enthusiastic about this book. If you're new to this sort of story, you might find this book to be a powerful exploration of loneliness and the meaning of human society and human life. A similar but much better post-apocalyptic novel is Cormac McCarthy's "The Road."
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Marcia Fox on February 3, 2002
Format: Unknown Binding
This is the first and best science fiction book I read. I searched for another copy of it for 20 years until I found one on Amazon.com. I read it once again and loved it just as much as the first time. It takes you on a most fantastic voyage, never to be forgotten. Full of great adventure and excitement, I love this book!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "jugadora" on April 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is the typical English disaster story in its earliest stages. Think John Wyndham, John Christopher, J.G.Ballard -- maybe the average English sf writer is a total loner and what he's really writing is wish-fulfillment!.... This book does have a quality all its own, vaguely reminiscent of William Hope Hodgson and I enjoy the old-fashioned textures. If you're at all interested in the origins of the genre, this would reward you on that score alone.
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