Monday, July 5, 2010

Earth Abides


A recent post by a blogger I consider an online-friend made me think to share my thoughts about the novel Earth Abides by George R. Stewart.

Earth Abides is an old novel. Written in 1949 it is one of the first post-apocalyptic novels. Fresh on the heels of WW II and at the beginning of the Cold War, Earth Abides addresses the idea of a pandemic wiping mankind from the earth as easily as sweeping ants off a picnic table.

The copy of Earth Abides (penned in 1949 by George R. Stewart) that I am reading must be thirty years old, if a day. The pages are definitely not acid-free. Yellowing, browning at the edges, corners flaking, many are loosely held in the book. Large sections are broken away from the spine. Great care must be taken to keep it all together, all in order. To maintain it as a 'readable' book.

A quick estimate suggests a total word count of perhaps a hundred thousand words for Earth Abides. Losing one page from my worn copy would make it worthless for resell. Losing ten pages would make it useless even for someone very familiar with the story.

Now imagine every word gone, but one. What value would this book have now? Imagine the book on your nightstand. Every word gone. Save one. What value would that lone word still retain?


Earth Abides is a story that rings very plausible. It is the story of a small group of survivors pushing back the darkness that threatens their small community. It teases us with the hope for a rebirth of 'civilization' and all the monumental achievements of man that represent that civilization. But it leaves us with the thought that civilization might simply be the caring and bonding of individuals together in common effort to preserve the human family.


Read the rest of my review at Epinions dot com.