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Earth Abides

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  27,938 ratings  ·  2,306 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. ...more
Paperback, 345 pages
Published March 28th 2006 by Del Rey (first published 1949)
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Tony Minoldo Because you're probably the end result of what 40 years of horrendous education caused to the USA (and now is causing to the rest of the World): I'm b…moreBecause you're probably the end result of what 40 years of horrendous education caused to the USA (and now is causing to the rest of the World): I'm by noi means a conspiracy theorist, but Hollywood films have greratly contributed, making a majority of movies with ceaseless and mostly meaningless constant action and not time to analyse...This book, if you made an effort, is a masterpiece...Now, with a new deadly virus rampaging, just imagine the collapse of civilisation, and how, contrarily to most Hollywood movies, not ex marines in their 30s will survive...The survival would be of course random, due to genetics or where the survivors live (to avoid contagion), and how, once the few months of canned food expire in the shelves, only those used to plant or find their own food, hunt, fish and cook, would survive...The book is marvelous, give it a chance...Please?(less)
Greg Degiere I found Earth Abides to be much more compelling, for three reasons I can identify.

First, the ideas it deals with are much more universal and interesti…more
I found Earth Abides to be much more compelling, for three reasons I can identify.

First, the ideas it deals with are much more universal and interesting -- how people relate to one another, parenting, and on a biggest scale, what is civilization and what about it is worth saving? And the events that lead to the establishment of the state should be fascinating to anyone who was read Locke or Paine, or even has thought about how societies create governments.

Second, it's more exciting. Alas, Babylon constructs a hard-to-believe world, despite the fact that its catastrophe is much more obviously likely. Earth Abides is believable from the start.

Third, and this is related to #2, Earth Abides is more intellectually honest. It creates a world in which almost everyone has died and deals in a serious way with how the few survivors would act. Alas, Babylon creates a world that experienced a nuclear war that hardly has any effect at all on the survivors in the one place in Florida where it is set. To my way of thnking, On the Beach was more honest.

It's been a long time since I read A Canticle for Leibowitz so I cant comment much on it, except to say I remember enjoying it a lot.(less)

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Average rating 3.95  · 
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Scott
Nov 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 t
...more
Susan Budd
Nov 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Lyn
Aug 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
"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,
...more
Richard Derus
Aug 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Veach Glines
Nov 14, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Dan Schwent
Aug 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Jenna is buying a house and mostly too busy for GR ❤ ❀  ❤
Lysol Big Bang Theory GIF - Lysol BigBangTheory SheldonCooper GIFs

Hello, my name is Jenna, and I'm a germaphobe.

Even before the pandemic, I worried about all those creepy, crawly, virusy, microscopic murderers lurking on just about every surface. Ok, no, not every creepy, crawly, virusy, microscopic thing can kill us - the majority don't even make us sick - but that doesn't stop my brain from being consumed by those teensy, tiny....things.

A normal person washes their hands once. Me? Two, three, seven times... and I still worry there's a virus or some salmonel
...more
Zoeytron
May 13, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: public-library
A pandemic has wiped out much of the human race.  We follow one man as he looks for other survivors.  Written in 1949, it was fairly dated, but for obvious reasons it had its own taste of timeliness, too.  I freely admit I picked this up after reading another review that noted that it was part of the inspiration for Stephen King when he penned The Stand.  My interest was kept for the first part of the book, but it flagged after a while, turning into a bit of a slog.  I just couldn't wrap my arms ...more
Alice
Feb 04, 2011 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kemper
Nov 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jim
Dec 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 & adventure, this book isn
...more
Manny
Jan 10, 2009 rated it liked it
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'
...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
...more
Stuart
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
...more
Bob Ross
Nov 30, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
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
Wee Lassie
May 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Very well written, with some interesting ideas on how people would cope with the end of civilization. It is dated in its main character's attitudes and prejudices (with some particular distressing racism at the beginning). However, I do find it a perfect argument on how you don't have to like the main character to enjoy the book. ...more
Chris Dietzel
Jan 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Michelle Morrell
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
Jill Hutchinson
Dec 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, my-classics
I was reading a book about the heyday of radio and this story was mentioned. It had been presented as an hour long dramatic rendering of the book and is considered a classic of radio broadcasting. I found the book and was mesmerized by the apocalyptic story of a man facing a world without people (well, not quite) and how he survives and adapts. It appears that it is the basis of Stephen King's The Stand. One does not have to be a fan of this particular genre to enjoy this well written and very c ...more
Lark Benobi
I've lost track of how many times I've read Earth Abides. This is the first time I've read it after the publication of The World Without Us by Alan Weisman, a nonfiction account of what would happen to the world if humans disappeared overnight. It's amazing how much Stewart got right.

I'm also amazed once again by the meticulous construction of this novel to prove certain theses about human civilizations and how they evolve and adapt to circumstances. Stewart provides a nearly obsessive level of
...more
Daniel
Jun 10, 2011 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
Thomas
Mar 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Dawn
Jan 31, 2014 rated it did not like it
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
...more
Peggyzbooksnmusic
I don't read much science fiction but both my sister and a library friend recommended it. Wow! Not what I was expecting. It was written in 1949 the year I was born and was awarded the first International Fantasy Award. Imagine that most of Earth's population has been wiped out by an unknown virus. The main character, Isherwood "Ish" Williams, is one of the survivors and his emotional and physical journey is full of hope for himself a small group of men and women.

It took me a short while to get
...more
Bookman143
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thought-provoking post-apocalyptic novel

Not an action-packed book and even quaint by today's standards, Earth Abides is a widely recognized classic of the genre with good reason. It puts one in mind of the Universal monster movies of the thirties and forties--enjoyable as classics but not facing the more stark and brutal realities portrayed in stories from our current time. So judging it by the time in which it was written, it was probably a ground-breaking book. But I think it has been much imp
...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.
...more
J.M. Hushour
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"At least," he thought, "life is quieter."

One of the golden age sci-fi greats, an early (1949) stab at the non-existent genre of the post-apocalypse. This is such a hoary trope now that one would be forgiven for not getting excited to read yet another goddamn post-apocalypse novel. But this one far surpasses, like many older genre works do, the crap that gets tossed off these days.
Folks will be reminded much of Stephen King's The Stand whose first half is essentially a near-complete rip-off of
...more
Huan-hua
Jul 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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 , f
...more

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