Earth Abides
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Earth Abides

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  11,318 ratings  ·  1,011 reviews
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.

NOTE: T...more
Audiobook, 60th Anniversary
Published April 21st 2009 by Audible Frontiers (first published January 1st 1949)
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Dan Schwent
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...more
Kemper
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...more
Veach Glines
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...more
Jim
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...more
Stephen
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.
Alice
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Daniel
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
Bob Ross
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...more
Huan-hua
Jul 31, 2008 Huan-hua rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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.
Amy
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...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
Thomas
Mar 27, 2008 Thomas rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Manny
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'...more
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
Jonathan Cullen
Jan 26, 2011 Jonathan Cullen rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Bandit
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
Melissa
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
Deborah
what i loved about this book was it's reality... what would happen if?
a massive epidemic - nearly everyone on earth dead... the practical end of what would happen next. gathering a few survivors, building a new life and lifestyle. the main charactor (your basic mild mannered guy) over time realizing that he needed to teach the next generation what they'd need to survive without common utilities or grocery stores. this book made me think... and one of the best 'visuals' .... 'he sat and watched...more
Sarah
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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...more
Stefan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael
Most of the time when Stephen King cites a book as an influence or recommends it, I'll give it a whirl. Over the years, I'd say I've enjoyed at least 90% of what King recommends -- either on the pages of Entertainment Weekly or in the forwards or afterwards of his various novels.

One of those recommended reads is Earth Abides which King cites as an influence for one of my favorite works by him, The Stand. And so it was that I scoured a couple of used book stores to find a copy of George R. Stewar...more
Matthew
With the expiration of most of earth's population rendering most technological advancements useless and thrusting religion as we know it into obscurity, man has to learn to inhabit, and assign new meaning to, an uncivilized earth. Although a little slow at times, Earth Abides is a thoughtful, eloquently written novel, avoiding many of the pitfalls of the post-apocalyptic sci-fi garbage that it spawned. Written in 1949, it is remarkably apt today, only dating itself at times in its treatment of t...more
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...more
Bob Lang
Dec 20, 2007 Bob Lang rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: All
There is more to life than being an observer. The protaganist, Isherwood Wiliams, watches the world or what is left of it deteriorate and wonders why someone doesn't do anything about it.
Josh
It may at first seem like merely another post-apocalyptic science fiction novel but George R. Stewart's Earth Abides is a carefully honed experiment in anthropology and sociology. Its depth and complexity is astounding and it deserves to be ranked as one of the best novels of the twentieth century.

The story follows Isherwood "Ish" Williams, a young man who, upon his return from a solitary research trip in the mountains somewhere in California, discovers that a plague has annihilated the human sp...more
Clark Hallman
First published in 1949, Earth Abides is George R. Stewart’s take on what would happen if all of the human population of Earth, except a few scattered survivors, were killed by a vicious disease. The tale is presented entirely through the thoughts and experiences one man, i.e., Isherwood Williams. Ish is a graduate student when the “Great Disaster” leaves him alone in the Oakland CA area. He eventually finds a few other survivors, including Emma (Em) who becomes his partner and the mother of his...more
Checkman
Apr 16, 2014 Checkman rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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.
Kelly
This was the first 'post apocalyptic' novel I ever read. Oddly, I found it on my mother's bookshelf when looking for something to read one day. This is one of those books I'll remember forever, and probably one of my all time top ten. I wonder how it will stand up to a re-read?

5/1/09: Stands up awesomely well to a re-read. Its a classic!
Liz
As an employee at UC Berkeley there is a kind of liberation that comes with reading of someone breaking into Doe library after the fall of civilization as we know it to get to the books inside. I do hope he remembered to have them scanned by the people at the checkout desk. :-)
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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 , featuri...more
More about George R. Stewart...
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“Men go and come, but earth abides.” 6 likes
“In that world, those with seeing eyes could only blunder about, but the blind man would be at home, and now instead of being the one who was guided by others, he might be one the one to whom the others clung for guidance.” 3 likes
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