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The Disappearance

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  326 ratings  ·  58 reviews
“The female of the species vanished on the afternoon of the second Tuesday of Februaryat four minutes and fifty-two seconds past four o'clock, Eastern Standard Time. The event occurred universally at the same instant, without regard to time belts, and was followed by such phenomena as might be expected after happenings of that nature.”On a lazy, quiet afternoon, in the ...more
Paperback, 407 pages
Published October 1st 2004 by Bison Books (first published 1951)
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Average rating 3.63  · 
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 ·  326 ratings  ·  58 reviews

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Amy Sturgis
This novel represents speculative fiction at its best. What if, one day, all the women on Earth disappeared, leaving men alone -- and, on a parallel Earth, all men disappeared, leaving women alone? This novel traces the fate of both worlds, and in so doing questions the foundations of contemporary governments, religions, sexual politics, and even family structures. Wylie asks the big questions about the ways in which we've ordered society and the unexamined assumptions that undergird these ...more
May 06, 2018 rated it did not like it
A book about gender by a man who was trying to be progressive compared to other male authors of the 1950s, but not trying hard enough to talk to or read relevant works by the women of his day. The premise is that all of the men are suddenly shifted into one alternate Earth while all of the women are shifted to another alternate Earth. From each other's perspective, the other gender has vanished. (Yes, it's all fully binary.)

I appreciated how the chapters alternated between the men's point of
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf
When compared to other SF literary masterworks I read recently, The disappearance is a solid effort. It didn't blow me out of my socks, but it was interesting nonetheless. I can't say that it's a page-turner - after all, the writing style is rather dated and relies quite a bit on heavy descriptions. Also, the phenomenon of the disappearance of one gender was dealt in a "Deus ex machina" kind of way, but I shouldn't nitpick - this is speculative fiction, isn't it? Despite those quibbles, Wylie's ...more
Fábio Fernandes
Aug 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was looking for this novel for a long time. The Disappearance was the very first book I bought when I arrived at Seattle in 2013, for Clarion West. I was intrigued by its premise, and I waa very curious to find out if the book was any good.

I'm not disappointed. I liked The Disappearance. For a novel written in 1951, it's a solid science fiction narrative, containing not only a good premise, but also an interesting view of male-female relations which was far from the norm when the book was
Jul 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wylie-philip
Of all my books, this is in the top 10 of my favorites. No, I lie! This is number one, such that I return to reading it again and again. The first copy I bought decades ago wore out, and I recently had to buy a new copy. If there were a six-star rating, this novel would receive one.

Today I once again am rereading Philip Wylie's The Disappearance, which is a book everyone should read at least once.

Set back in the 1950s, Mr. Wylie thoughtfully writes about how men and women survive when the
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the fifth time I have read the book but the first in almost thirty years. It was almost like reading the book for the first time. Not quite science-fiction, not quite dystopian, The Disappearanceby Philip Wylie is a study of the male and female psyches set amidst a varied array of essays commenting on the ills of American attitudes and philosophies leading into the early Cold war period.

In characteristic Wylie fashion, his protagonists are literate, highly intelligent beings who seem to
Shira and Ari Evergreen
Oct 31, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi, gender
I loved aspects of this book, and many other aspects made me cringe. Let's get the negatives out of the way first. There are a lot of racist, classist, sexist, homophobic ideas and scenes in this book. It's a product of its time, and I have a feeling it was quite progressive when it was written back in 1951, but even so, it can be very cringe-inducing at times, and is disappointing overall because of this.

However! It is worth reading, with a critical eye. The story is really fascinating, and the
Jun 19, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This features a concept that was a lot more successfully employed in the comic book series Y the Last Man. One day at 4:05pm all the women disappear in the world. Though actually to the women all the men disappear. Then for four years the two sexes have to try to survive.

Since this was written in 1951, there's a lot of misogyny involved. Basically while the men's world goes on somewhat normally (except for the brief nuclear war) the women end up on the brink of starvation with disease running
Ketan Shah
A stunning example of speculative fiction. What if all the men disappeared from the world,leaving just the women ? What if the same thing happened to the men,with all the women disappearing from their world.The world seems to split into two alternate realities,one with just men remaining,and the other with just the women.In this novel from 1951,Philip Wylie explores the consequences of an event like that and uses this clever idea to examine the role of gender in society.His characters are well ...more
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
There were some pretty blatant issues with this in its racism and prejudice against homosexuality. These things should not be glossed over despite its good points. What was good about the book was the conversation about gender and social training. Sure, the book is a soapbox. Makes for dry reading. But some very interesting and fairly un-condescending ideas I never expected from a book of its time. Definitely worth a read if you're interested in conversations on gender equality (and also a gauge ...more
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
A bit long-winded in places, certainly, and the story would be different if written today; keeping in mind that it was written in the 1950s, it's an accurate depiction of the premise.

One of the best speculative/dystopian gender fictions I've read. Wylie cuts to the root of the issue in a matter-of-fact way without denigrating either sex and addresses key points of women's rights issues that are still relevant today. Again - he wrote this over 60 years ago. The book started off a bit slow but
Aug 31, 2009 rated it did not like it
A strange little book. On the whole, I didn't much care for it. The premise started out fine: one fine day, all the women in the world just vanish. And then you find out that on that same fine day, all the men in the world just vanished. Very interesting what happens in the world of just men contrasted with the world of just women.

But oh! the preaching, the pontificating, the tedious thrashing out of theories of how we've gone wrong, etc. Pages and pages of it. Ugh!

And in the end, the ending is
Jun 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of the most beautiful, haunting and thought-provoking novels ever. Written in 1950, it's astonishingly relevant in some aspects - and an excellent historical account of a certain period in American history, in others.
Kindle Daily Deal 6/19/15 $1.99.
Sep 17, 2017 added it
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Roger Smitter
Over 60 years have passed since The Disappearance was published. While the novel is difficult to accept the 1950 language, the character roles, and the politis of the time, the book has something to say to us.

Wylie creates a world that we can't imagine because he imagines two worlds. One day, all of the females disappear from the earth. On that same day, all of the men also disappear. No one knows where the other gender can't be found. There is no connection of any kind between men and women.
Robert Palmer
Oct 23, 2017 rated it liked it
It was in February when the females of the species vanished from the world of men——-at the same time the men disappeared from the world of women. Bill Gaunt,a philosopher has lost his wife Paula she was his caretaker,the love of his life and his best friend,he will be living in a world slowly growing into unreasoning violence. In Paula’s world she will assume a leadership role and help to make a world in which to survive.
Bit by bit we learn how much we depend on the interconnection between men
Aleardo Zanghellini
I discovered Wylie while researching Charles Jackson -- at one point Wylie was his editor at F&R. Wylie was a polyhedric man, a bit arrogant, from what I gather, but accomplished and very interesting. That description more or less also applies to this book, which is both a sci-fi page-turner and a philosophical novel, which hasn't aged too badly at all. It makes for fascinating reading, with its distinctively early 50s' preoccupations (the cold war, the atomic bomb, etc) but also more ...more
Bob In
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
The premise is interesting. The world splits. All the women disappear from the men's world. All the men disappear from the woman's.
But the execution was terrible. The insight into the characters, despite impressive word selection, was slight and stuck in early 1950 stereotypes rather than advanced 1950s insights.

I did skim even in the early going, the grasp of its storyline was so weak. Page 50 to the end probably took me 25 minutes. I discovered the rationale behind the disappearance-a letdown
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017, dystopian
I loved the premise of this book - the world divides into two parallel universes, one with women and one with men. The fact that it's published in 1951, a time when gender roles were much more separate and defined made this sound like an interesting social experiment. Unfortunately Wylie's main character is a philosopher who spends much of the book theorizing. One chapter, in fact, is called "essay on the philosophy sex" and all the dissertations made my eye glaze over.
Hal Zenner
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Brilliant concept. What happens when suddenly all men/boys and women/girls on earth are separated from each other? The book was written in 1951, just after the war and the beginning of the "atomic age" and this context is important as you read this book. Only negative is that sometimes the prose is a little stiff.
Alonso Mitza
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A study of males and females, a great read.

Why isn't this book more popular? I'd shelf it next to 1984.
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Years ahead of its time. Brilliant writing, sensitive observation of human behavior.
Jean Carlton
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi
Entered 2019
Read 2001
I rate every book entereed years later as 2 stars (ok) unless i starred the entry in my original log.
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-ebook-nook
I'm torn! There were parts that I really/REALLY liked, and some parts that were just tedious diatribes on social-psychology. But, those diatribes had serious and significant merit, and helped build the foundation for the novel; and yet they, at several points, got in the way of telling the story. Still, this story wouldn't be nearly as interesting without the psychology behind it. However, this is, first and foremost, a fictional story. Sooooo, I have a little problem when the author uses it as ...more
Jul 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michael by: Donald Philpott
Wylie creates a speculative story in which half the world’s population suddenly disappears: to the men all the women disappear, and to the women all the men disappear. The first part of the book takes on the practical implications of having the world divided along gender lines (it takes place in the 1960s). The only-women world has to immediately deal with the lack of people who know how to make the world go ‘round, since most of the businessman, doctors, workers, etc had been men. The only-men ...more
Jun 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
I read this book way back in the late 60's and had forgotten about it until my mother mentioned rereading it. The premise of the book caught my interest and I have to admit I couldn't remember any of the details so I read it again. What a difference a few decades make!

I was shocked by the racism and sexism. The attitude that women and 'colored' people were so ill prepared to live in a world without men to tell them what to do was really disturbing. Especially since the book was written just
Jim Davis
Jul 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
I got to this book by way of "When Worlds Collide" which I had just read. The concept interested me but I wasn't prepared for Wylie's in depth philosophical analysis. I wasn't aware that Wylie was more known as a social critic than a SF writer. His main topic is the role of men and women in the world of 1951 (when it was written) and before. He is most concerned with the negative and inferior (in the eyes of men) role that women have played in society. But he also addresses the materialism of ...more
Apr 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is interesting to rate, because the author said a number of detestable things with which I do not agree. A lot of things, really. I had to keep reminding myself of context and when it was written and try to somehow unclench my jaw while reading.
However, from a mechanical perspective the author did interesting things. I finished this book and wanted to read other books from the same time period/with similar themes, because the comparison of this novel with other distaster/dystopian
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Born in Beverly, Massachusetts, he was the son of Presbyterian minister Edmund Melville Wylie and the former Edna Edwards, a novelist, who died when Philip was five years old. His family moved to Montclair, New Jersey and he later attended Princeton University from 1920–1923. He married Sally Ondek, and had one child, Karen, an author who became the inventor of animal "clicker" training. After a ...more
“Faith's the agreement to abandon detachment, John! To supplant a packaged security for open integrity. To agree not to learn anymore. It is the acceptance of a channel, by a man who was previously able to move on the whole terrain” 3 likes
“But you don't know how to read anymore! When you open a book, you do it in the faith and assurances that you are already master of what it contains and that the author has written only so you may prove him wrong!” 3 likes
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