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Earth Abides

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  18,708 Ratings  ·  1,486 Reviews
The cabin had always been a special retreat for Isherwood Williams, a haven from the demands of society. But one day while hiking, Ish was bitten by a rattlesnake, and the solitude he had so desired took on dire new significance. He was sick for days - although, somehow, he never doubted that he'd live through the ordeal. Often delirious, he did awake at one point to find ...more
ebook, 417 pages
Published January 1st 1976 by Houghton Mifflin (first published 1949)
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C.W. Hawes The book is only boring if one isn't used to this kind of writing. The work is essentially plotless and more of a character study. Something like the…moreThe book is only boring if one isn't used to this kind of writing. The work is essentially plotless and more of a character study. Something like the work of Kazuo Ishiguro. When I first read the book, I found it exceedingly fascinating. It may be this just isn't your cup of tea.(less)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 30, 2014 Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: post-apocalyptic
”The trouble you’re expecting never happens; it’s always something that sneaks up the other way. Mankind had been trembling about destruction through war, and had been having bad dreams of cities blown to pieces along with their inhabitants, of animals killed, too, and of the very vegetation blighted off the face of the earth. But actually mankind seemed merely to have been removed rather neatly, with a minimum of disturbance.”

 photo 9ab1aa60-96a7-4889-a072-ca5d7df1f0f5_zpsdb6c752e.jpg

Isherwood “Ish” WIlliams is out in the wilderness rock climbing to c
Nov 18, 2014 Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bands of cannibal raiders. Hordes of flesh-starved zombies. Radioactive wastelands stalked by vicious mutants.

If you're a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction you've encountered all these scenarios, often blended together. You're familiar with the best ways to dispatch the walking dead, why you should keep away from isolated farmhouses with locked cellars and what lies outside the vault/silo. What you most likely haven't encountered is an end-of-the-world vision like the one George R. Stewart spins i
Dan Schwent
Aug 22, 2008 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: early-sf
Men go and come but the earth abides.

I picked up Earth Abides because it was one of the inspirations for Stephen King's The Stand and because I've been in a post-apocalyptic mood lately. Earth Abides didn't disappoint.

It grabs you from the start. Isherwood Williams (Ish), gets bitten on the hand by a rattlesnake just after discovering an old hammer in the desert. After days of suffering from the rattler's bite, Ish wakes up and no one else is around. The beginning reminded me a little of Day of
Aug 18, 2015 Lyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Take er easy Earth."

"Yeah, well, the Earth Abides"

THE definitive post-apocalyptic novel.

First published in 1949, this has some dating but has stood the test of time remarkably well. Modern readers may notice some post-ap clichés and oft used techniques, but the same reader must consider that Stewart's remarkable work may have been the origin of many of this sub-grenre’s elements.

This is an archetypal work that should be on a MUST read list for any true fan of speculative fiction. While reading,
Veach Glines
Nov 14, 2009 Veach Glines rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If I were to teach an upper-level college writing class, I’d use this book as the foundation for my semester. Just as secret service agents need real, expertly crafted, counterfeit bills removed from circulation and brought into their classroom to learn how to identify bad paper, every writer needs a counterfeit novel that made it into circulation and received praise. Through deconstruction of this book, I could teach almost everything writers shouldn’t do.

Hundreds of places the author could hav
Richard Derus
Aug 17, 2014 Richard Derus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: A disease of unparalleled destructive force has sprung up almost simultaneously in every corner of the globe, all but destroying the human race. One survivor, strangely immune to the effects of the epidemic, ventures forward to experience a world without man. What he ultimately discovers will prove far more astonishing than anything he'd either dreaded or hoped for.

My Review: Call him Isherwood. (Cause that's his name.) On a camping trip in the mountains, Is
Susan Budd
For fifteen years I taught a university course in Western Civilization. It began in the spring. The textbook I assigned my students began with the sentence, “Civilization was not inevitable; it was an act of human creativity.” After reading about our primitive ancestors’ advance from hunting and gathering to the agricultural settlements of the Neolithic Revolution, we studied the great ancient civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia.

By April, Rome had fallen and we were in the Dark Ages. Western
It comes across as a little dated. (When the hero sprays his pregnant wife's clothes with DDT because of flea concerns and it's considered a good thing, you gotta laugh.) But the core story holds up remarkably well.

Instead of the typical apocalyptic aftermath story with brave survivors fighting for survival, we get a small band of average people who would rather coast along by scrounging off the old world rather than trying to rebuild.

Stewart was doing a version of 'Life After People' decades b
Feb 04, 2011 Alice rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 01, 2009 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought about giving this 5 stars as it is one of the best & earliest of the modern, serious apocalyptic SF novels. Written in 1949, it is a bit dated in some ways (the use of chemicals, lack of panic, & some equipment) but overall, it held up very well over the years. I don't agree with some of the specifics, but the story is not so much about specific technology, but about humanity & I think he presented a very interesting set of ideas.

If you're looking for action & adventur
Earth Abides: Not with a bang, but a contented sigh...
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature)
You may have heard of pastoral SF (ala Clifford Simak), and this book may be best classified as post-holocaust pastoral SF, perhaps even "bucolic SF" (similar books include Leigh Bracket's Long Tomorrow and Pat Frank's Alas Babylon). Civilization is wiped out by a mysterious and never-explained virus, but our intrepid protagonist Isherwood Williams ("Ish" to his buddies) makes the best of a primitive ex
Michelle M
I started this book without a clear picture of when or where it was written, just knew it was "a classic." It started out with the stereotypical "lone survivor surveys the empty cities" scenes and moved on to a cross country jaunt to see what humanity survived. However, there was a scene where he came across a couple, a "negro" couple, whereupon he began to wonder if he should just stay there, become their master and have them provide for him. My first thought was "WTF?" My second was "When was ...more
Jun 10, 2011 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometime in the 10 days that it took me to read through this book, I decided that the title could be renamed to "Earth Bides"--as in the Earth bides its time, and so does George R. Stewart in his deliberate study of the decline of civilization following a world-wide plague. After a strong first part, Stewart's story dips into a depression of shallow character development and didactic storytelling. Agenda takes the fore, and Stewart's writing takes a manipulative turn as his character marionette ...more
Chris Dietzel
Jan 16, 2014 Chris Dietzel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was excellent and lived up to all the good things I've heard about it. I loved the zoological and sociological look at the apocalypse rather than the typical us-versus-them or zombie apocalypse scenarios you seem to find so much of these days. Stewart did a remarkable job of making the daily lives of a few survivors not only seem interesting and extremely realistic (important for it to be a good book) but also provided philosophical insights and morals of human nature (the difference for me ...more
3.0 stars. George R. Stewart's post-apocalyptic science fiction classic. I came into this story with incredibly high expectations and I think that may have tainted my experience with the book. It was well written with some very beautiful and haunting moments, but in the end it just didn't hold my interest enough to rate it higher. Good, but not great.

Winner: International Science Fiction Award for Best Novel (1951)
Voted to Locus "All Time Best" Science Fiction Novels.
Bob Ross
Nov 30, 2010 Bob Ross rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Picked this up because I heard this was the inspiration of Steven King's "The Stand". Written in 1949, it tells the story of a man named Ish that is one of the only survivors of a worldwide plague. Ish was based on Ishi, the last Indian who wondered out of the woods in the 1920's in California and was studied by Berkeley. Stewart taught at Berkeley so we see how he came up with this story.

I am puzzled why this is considered a classic and is so well reviewed, other than what I call "Star Trek syn
No wonder this is a classic. It's a wonderful book. It's one of those books that tells a story with such a logical progression that it seems that anyone could have written it (but didn't). Yet, the wisdom this novel contains is the wisdom it takes the main character a lifetime to learn.

In the novel, a plague falls upon the earth, leaving behind a scant few survivors. Our hero, Ish, is one of the few survivors. One of his first inclinations is to travel across the US from California to New York t
Mar 27, 2008 Thomas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Teens and Older
This is my favorite novel of all time. I first read the story way back when I was in high school, so I can recommend this to young readers.

The story may well be the first post-apocalyptic novel of its kind - I know of no others that have proceeded it and I do not count H.G. Wells' The Time Machine as in this category. Regardless, I consider this book to be the standard against which all other post-apocalyptic novels should be judged.

George R. Stewart is well suited to write this book as he has a
Jan 10, 2009 Manny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
In this pleasant, low-key post-apocalyptic classic, nearly all the human race has been wiped out by a mysterious disease. Yet, as the title suggests, the rest of the world continues and barely notices we're gone.

I was reminded of this novel the other day when a friend was telling me about her father's view of the future. He thinks our society is doomed, and that we're also inflicting incalculable harm on tens of thousands of other species. All the same, as she said, he doesn't consider that it'
I tried, but this book is too old fashioned for me. It reminds me of something Richard Matheson would write. The main character, Ish, drives me nuts. The women are all idiots according to him - but courageous, since they have the children, so that's okay! Apparently, after a plague wipes out nearly all of humanity, the difference between men & women can be summed up as: "She felt only in terms of the immediate, and was more interested in being able to spot her child's birthday than in all th ...more
Jul 31, 2008 Huan-hua rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of post-apocalyptic fiction
Recommended to Huan-hua by: book club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mur Lafferty
I am a couple hours into the audiobook, and annoyed that Ish is kind of a dick. I understand the book will reflect the thinking of the time, but that doesn't make me enjoy the sexist writing any more (this is why I have trouble with classic SF). beyond that, Ish doesn't seem to really mourn the world, he keeps a detached and scholarly view of everything. he abandons a drunk because he doesn't want a companion of that ilk, then feels little remorse when he finds the man dead of alcohol poisoning. ...more
Sherry (bogiewine)
This book turned out to be both amazingly rewarding and incredibly exasperating, which is why I can’t make it a 5-star favorite even though I’m terribly tempted. Unfortunately, there was a huge chunk I really didn’t enjoy enough to justify doing that. Bear with me though because I just might change my mind. But before I get to the reasons why, anyone curious about reading Earth Abides should know that a good 2/3 to 3/4 was pretty much ALL observational narrative. Supposedly, although how could a ...more
Evan Leach
Earth Abides, written in 1949, has a reputation as a landmark science fiction novel. It made Locus Magazine’s list of Best All Time Science Fiction and was a major inspiration for The Stand. I know a number of people who really enjoyed this book, and my dislike for it certainly puts me in the minority. However, I was very disappointed by this one and found it to be a real slog.

In Earth Abides, a super virus nearly wipes out the human race in the late 1940s. Only a handful of survivors remain acr
Nov 12, 2010 Bandit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've tried many post apocalyptic classics and liked none of them. This was the last in the line and by far and away the best. It was almost perfect. George R. Stewart has written a large number of nonfiction work, but this book had none of the academic aridness of style. As a matter of fact this was some of the finest writing that I've read in a while. A classic indeed. Had the book been a novella instead of a novel only encompassing part 1, it would have been perfect. Terrific story of a young ...more
Jan 31, 2014 Dawn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I did not like this, Dawn I am.

Boring. Antiquated. Boring. Asshole character. Boring. Did I mention boring?

Nothing happens. Plot goes no where. Everyone dies on page one... And that's pretty much it. I have no idea what the point of the rest of the pages was.

Main character, Ich, was a pompous douche. I get that it's partially a matter of the time period the book takes place in, but it's also partially a matter of him being a know it all full of himself dick.

And honestly.. The way he was portray
Jun 21, 2016 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love character-driven fiction. I am also enough of a misanthropist to enjoy reading about an empty United States without obvious dead bodies, zombies, major infrastructure destruction or abandoned vehicle traffic jams. This book ponders whether the trappings of civilization and all the knowledge scholars have amassed would be useful for rebuilding after the devastation of our society. There are moving descriptions of Nature reclaiming the Earth, but happily not much violence among the remainin ...more
Dec 29, 2010 Kane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: canned food lovers
One of the intrusive thoughts I had while reading Earth Abides was, "How long does a can of beans really last? I mean really?".

For having been written in the year in which President Harry Truman called his administration the "Fair Deal", George R. Stewart's post-apocalyptic science fiction novel Earth Abides stands up very well. There's a reason for that. If a cataclysm hit today, would we, as survivors dust ourselves off, learn new skills and expend the massive energy it would take to keep soc
Mar 12, 2011 Checkman rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Post-Apocalyptic readers
Recommended to Checkman by: My mother
Shelves: post-apocalyptic
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeff Straub
I couldn't even finish it. I really wanted to; it was a neat take on the good ol' end of the world story, but I just couldn't get past how dated it was:

"He took a cigarette from the lacquer box on the coffee table"
"He turned on the radio and waited for the tubes to warm up"
"He laid down on the davenport"
"Again, he spent the night at a travel lodge along Rt. 66"

It just kept taking up more and more of my energy to not be distracted by the dated content that I stopped enjoying the story.

Maybe I'll
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  • The Death of Grass
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George Rippey Stewart was an American toponymist, a novelist, and a professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. He is best known for his only science fiction novel Earth Abides (1949), a post-apocalyptic novel, for which he won the first International Fantasy Award in 1951. It was dramatized on radio's Escape and inspired Stephen King's The Stand .

His 1941 novel Storm , featu
More about George R. Stewart...

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“Men go and come, but earth abides.” 15 likes
“The trouble you're expecting never happens; it's always something that sneaks up the other way.” 10 likes
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