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The Hopkins Manuscript

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  62 ratings  ·  16 reviews
In The Hopkins Manuscript we watch through his eyes as the moon veers off course, draws slowly closer to the earth, and finally crashes into it on May 3rd 1946. Because it falls into the Atlantic much of humanity survives – only to generate new disasters. But this is not science fiction in the mode of H G Wells's The War of the Worlds; it is a novel about human nature.
Paperback, 440 pages
Published 2005 by Persephone Books (first published 1939)
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60th out of 90 books — 63 voters
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313th out of 417 books — 628 voters

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Community Reviews

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Philip Jackson
RC Sherriff's lasting legacy is, of course, his remarkable play Journey's End, but Sherriff wrote several novels (as well as screenplays for such films as The Invisible Man and Goodbye Mr Chips). This one is something of an oddity, a work of science fiction which nicely bridges the gap between HG Wells and John Wyndham.
As the title implies, the book takes the form of a journal kept by Edgar Hopkins. As there is a preface detailing the discovery of this manuscript, it is known from the outset th
The Hopkins Manuscript is a brilliant imagining of the moon’s collision with the earth, and the eventual end of western civilisation. Sci-fi novels vary in type, and I have read only a few over the years, but the only kind of Sci-fi I have any interest in, is the type which is set in a recognisable world, where unexpected, unworldly or fantastic events impact seriously upon that world and the people in it.

The novel opens with a foreword in which an Abyssinian scientist explains how the Hopkins M
Helen Kitson
This marvellous, disturbing novel is very different from what one might call the 'typical Persephone' title. Indeed, had it not been published (re-published, rather) by Persephone, I might not have read it, as science fiction isn't one of my favourite genres.

First published in 1939, the story is narrated by 53-year-old Edgar Hopkins, a rather pompous ex-schoolmaster. Content to spend the rest of his life in the small village of Beadle, breeding poultry, he is stunned to say the least when he lea
Sally Tarbox
'At midnight on the 12th February this year the moon had drawn nearer to the earth by 3583 miles, July 7, 2014

This review is from: The Hopkins Manuscript (Paperback)
I don't normally read sci-fi, but was tempted by this being a Persephone publication - and I really enjoyed it.
Set in the 1930s, it's narrated by Edgar Hopkins, a pompous little ex-schoolmaster, whose life revolves around his poultry and membership of the Lunar Society. When he and a few select others are made privy to the fact that
Andy Phillips
This book was originally published in 1939 and features fictional events that took place in the 1940s (as the story is all told from Hopkins' perspective many years later). Although some of the phrasing and perspectives look a bit strange now, the story is still as valid now as it was then and that's all part of the charm.

The book begins with the Hopkins Manuscript being discovered in the ruins of London by an expedition of the Royal Society of Abyssinia. The Western world had been destroyed cen
Lucy Dean
I loved this rather slow, dusty, mannered account of a future world where the moon has collided with the earth, connecting continents and bringing out the worst of the governments involved. R C Sheriff uses the backdrop of a cosy Shropshire retirement of a schoolmaster to set his scene, complete with social mores and etiquette of the period. The class system still manages to survive, despite the necessity to pull together but there are some lovely touches in the relationship between the teacher ...more
Andrea Dowd
What a totally different approach to apocalyptic fiction. The fact that "The Hopkins Manuscript" was written in the 1930s only makes it that much more awesome. As pointed out in my copy from the 1960s, Sherriff got the science of the "event" wrong. But who cares! Because who doesn't want to read how a middle-age gentleman from a tiny English hamlet would survive the end of his world as he knew it?

This book is out of print but it seems to be findable through a variety of online resellers.

Finished on the plane from Palm Springs to San Francisco. One of the few (only?) science fiction Persephone books. It gives us 1940s England without WWII. Instead, the moon is moving ever closer to the Earth and will soon smash into it. The first half of the book is pre-cataclysm and the second half is the aftermath. Of course, the story is really an examination of human nature. Sherriff purposely made Hopkins a bit of a drip, but the character eventually grows on you until you appreciate him fo ...more
Stella Wang
i just can't like this book! Normally i'm pretty interested in reading this kind of sci-fi book. At first it was okay but then it's just going so slow??? and the writing is kind of dry?? I just can't relate to it.
Gareth Evans
I ordered this book because I very much enjoyed A Fortnight in September and without reading a review expected another slice of very gentle 1930s social observation. I was very disappointed to find a science fiction novel with a rather unattractive narator attending meetings of the Luna Society. However my disappointment was assuaged by the excellence of Sherrif's writing (wonderfully clear and accurate) and his ability to tell a good story well. A post- (and pre-) apocalypse novel that really w ...more
Rose Ann
I did not finish this book, I was about halfway through it when I stopped because it was very disturbing and depressing to me. This poor, self-absorbed narrator just broke my heart, but I also wanted to slap him sometimes! But mostly it just made me want to cry. I have read "Earth Abides" and "Alas Babylon." I have even read "When Worlds Collide"! But the deeply depressing world this author brings to life was just too much for me.
Sarah Jamison
There was so much potential here and so much foreshadowing that never went anywhere. I realize that the first-person limited POV was essential to the political metaphor. Nevertheless, too tantalizing to be good.

And what did I learn from this book? A whole big bunch about chickens!
3.5 stars.

The heat of the book is what happens after the moon hits the earth. Prior to that, I found the book dragging, but it's worth persevering for the post calamity section which is much more compelling.
Interesting read - very of its time (1939). Edgar Hopkins is irritating though - showing how well Sherriff portrays him!
Matthew Gammon
Having recently re-read this book, I realise just how beautifully crafted this seemingly gentle book is.
Ulybug Mac
Excellent book, about the moon hitting the planet, written from the perspective of a rural chicken breeder.
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Robert Cedric Sherriff was an English writer best known for his play Journey's Endwhich was based on his experiences as a Captain in World War I. He wrote several plays, novels, and screenplays, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) and two British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

More about R.C. Sherriff...
Journey's End (Heinemann Plays) The Fortnight in September Another Year No Leading Lady: An Autobiography The Wells of St Mary's

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