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Earth Abides Mass Market Paperback – September 12, 1986
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Top Customer Reviews
But it's Stewart's refusal to tread the usual Golden Age sci-fi path and make Ish a superscience hero that makes the novel very special. Ish may be a scientist, he's academically bright, but like many people he's low in energy, street-smarts, and foresight. By and large his motley clan possesses even lower survival skills. They aren't much different from the Valley Girls in another good story in the end-of-the-world genre, the movie NIGHT OF THE COMET. Both are based on an understanding that if the human race's average IQ is 100, half the people who are likely to survive a major disaster aren't going to be awfully competent. Stewart certainly knew that, and it provided both the uncanny realism and the rather depressing pessimism of this story. It's fascinating to note that the other reviewers have noted both aspects of EARTH ABIDES.
The protagonist Isherwood suffers from the same disease that afflicts even the best of men - he lacks direction, loses initiative, becomes too preoccupied with the daily stresses of living and watches his life trickle away in the post apocalyptic environment without ever seeming to summon the right kinds of ambitions to carry out his grand dreams of rebuilding the old world.
Stewart was quite prophetic considering when this book was written because many modern anthropologists have since confirmed that many previous civilizations have died out precisely because of this "critical threshold" of the division of labor and sheer numbers of vanished races being too low to sustain a breeding population and achieve the critical mass that leads to a progress oriented civilization. Stewart was very perceptive too be able to articulate this phenomenon and even narrate its exact trajectory following the loss of so many people who were vital components in the world that Isherwood regrets the demise of.
The most disturbing aspect for me was that I see much of the exact decay of western civilization going on right now all around us and we have not even have a catastrophic plague yet. The same loss of purpose, of drive, of a sense of our own individual worth as a nation and a desire to maintain our sovereignty is slowly giving way to the degenerative notion of a world socialist government of faceless consumers who lack any culture beyond the food court and cineplex.
The terrifying thing about the book "Earth Abides" is that it is the story of our world and the modern era ... even before we suffer the inevitable collapse of our civilization in the physical sense. The reality is that we see it all crumbling around our eyes into the multicultural carnival of formlessness and we often find ourselves as helpless and feckless as Ish himself in doing anything about it.
Highest rating, possibly on the top 100 list of best fiction I've ever read. I consider Stewart to be the author of a modern classic in publishing this book. It is so much more than simply speculative fiction, it contains eternal truths.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My problem is with the lead character.Read more