Sarah's Reviews > The Scarlet Plague

The Scarlet Plague by Jack London
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's review
Mar 05, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: 2008, fiction, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi

** spoiler alert ** i first found out about this book/story when i was at the sci-fi musem in seattle last summer. it’s touted as one of the first modern post-apocalypse stories. i remember taking a picture of it so i would remember the title. then when i got home i added it to my wish list and it wasn’t available.
then early in 2007, echo library released an edition of it for like $7, which i bought. it had quite a few typographical errors, but whatever.
i think it’s funny that the book was out of print for so long, but now that this type of sci-fi is vogue again (in a way it hasn’t been since the early days of the cold-war) there’s two new editions out.
anyway. i found the first part of the story very annoying because the kids he was talking to were such ill-bred smucks. the second part of the story i liked better--the part where he was telling the boys about the last days of the human race (some fast-acting disease wiped everyone out). he was one of the few that survived. eventually he met a few more people, and by the time of the story (60 years after the plague) they’ve created a small tribe of people.
in terms of post-apocalyptic sci-fi, it was okay. it seemed very formulaic, but the thing is, it wasn’t because it was one of the first. other stories followed london’s formula. it had a lot of overwrought language and a lot of extraneous words. i’m not sure if that’s london’s style or not; it’s been a long time since i read call of the wild.
but, i’m glad i read the book since it does hold a place in the canon.

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