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: This 60th anniversary edition of Earth Abides includes a special introduction written and read by Hugo Award-winning writer Connie Willis.
©1949, renewed 1976 by George R. Stewart; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
This story, so well performed, intrigued, touched and inspired me to question as few others have, I would recommend it to anyone; gifts of insight into the natural world, humanity, and the reality within which they co-create one another are indispensable in these days wherein so much is taken for granted, assumed and accepted.
Of all the books I have read in my lifetime, George R. Stewart's EARTH ABIDES is my all-time favorite. I watch for copies to give to favored fellow readers. Ever since my first reading of it, this book has changed how I look at my life, my relationships, and what we humans call civilization.
I read this book first 30 years ago in college. It became one of my favorite books ever even after all these years. This is not your typical apocalyptic novel with undercurrents of aliens or walking dead. It is a straightforward tale of a man who lives his life on the earth almost devoid of human life. It describes in detail the gradual decay of all that humankind built over 5000 years as the earth reclaims its own. It also tells the story of a small group of individuals that make a life and even a community amid the vestiges of a bygone world of machines and remnants of mankind's achievements. It truly is a book that will stick with you for the rest of you life.
"There never seems to be enough time in the day to do everything you want to do..."
While I absolutely love Audible Books and the opportunity they provide people like me who just don't have the time to be able to sit down and read... I don't feel they compare to the actual written book. I think the most obvious reason is that we become subject to the narrators voice, their inflections and their emphasis on the story line versus our own imagination. But please don't think I wasn't very pleased with the Narration, it was superb!
Oh my Gosh... I've been sitting here for 30 minutes trying to think of one moment that impacted me more than the others...and I keep remembering situations and reactions and lives and Death... I was overwhelmed...by the whole book...
Not yet, but after this book I will....
Laugh? No,... Cry? Damn Close....
I chose this book thinking it would be a "Typical" apocalypse book... But I was Very Pleasantly surprised and Impressed with this "humanistic" book. I felt the whole range of emotions, from being happy, curious and apprehensive to being incredibly sad and everything in between. Money well spent!
Me, myself, and I.
I've read a lot of science fiction, but few novels have impacted me as deeply as this one. Stewart's description of a post-apocalyptic society and, more importantly, the relationship between man and Earth, is nearly unparalleled in scope and depth. This one has me looking at roads, bridges, and other man-made scars upon the face of the planet in an entirely different way. Recommended for anyone who wants to journey into the impossibly possible.
I first read this book literally decades ago, and coming back to the story again reminded me of why I was so moved by it.
Catastrophic disease now is even more plausible, and yet humankind has not changed. This book is very relevant to our time and worth the credit.
I thought this book was absolutely awesome. It touched me on so many levels.
Highlights of the book:
-The ache of loneliness and memories
-Life in the vacuum of real leadership and vision
-How easy it is to sacrificing the future because of present conveniences (water, reading)
-Small things can make a big difference (arrows)
-Growing old and the hope and disappointment in the next generations (Joey, Ish IV)
-Love and companionship can make help on face even the most horrific situations. (Em)
In a peaceful, verdant valley on the Equator, the sun always sets at 6, and a good audiobook is always the perfect evening companion
Sixty-five years after its publication, “Earth Abides” remains fresh in its singular view of what might happen after most of the world’s population is wiped out by a fast-moving plague. The premise is a familiar one. Stephen King, for one, credits the work as an inspiration for his hugely successful “The Stand.” But his took off in an entirely different direction.
“Earth Abides” follows the post-pandemic life of Isherwood “Ish” Williams and what becomes a small group of survivors who cluster together in Berkeley, California as the world they knew steadily crumbles. The electricity fails, and years later the water supply. In between, everything changes. George R. Stewart, a serious academic, provides insights that are often surprising in this, his first and only science fiction novel.
There is the rise and fall of species—first ants, then rats, cattle, grasshoppers, and mountain lions. It is the constant cycle of animals that overbreed as they react to the rise and fall of their supply of prey and predators, then practically die out again.
And then something like it starts happening to the culture of the people. The little community of survivors—“the tribe,” as they increasingly call themselves—have children. Over the decades, the children marry and produce more children. But they don’t learn to read, or retain much sense of all the human history that was so recently lost. They don’t care about ice, for example, since they’ve never had it, so ice is one of those myriad achievements of civilization they feel no compulsion to recreate. They use matches, but couldn’t make one. After all this time, they don’t know how to fabricate things, or build things, or raise domesticated animals for food. They have become complacent scavengers in a land of incalculable plenty, thanks to thousands of abandoned stores, and they don’t realize how much they have forgotten.
Superstition rises to fill the space where knowledge belongs. Ish becomes something of a reluctant demigod.
This is not the way post-apocalyptic books usually go. They tend to be filled with renegade bad guys and warring factions whom the survivors must fear—zombies in the latest versions. Here the survivors themselves have become their worst enemy, or so it seems for a time. The whole of human civilization that separates them from savagery turns out to be an ephemeral thing.
In a way, it is an illustration of the theory that humans are never more than a generation away from atavism, as was illustrated in “Lord of the Flies.” But viewed differently, it’s not quite that, but rather the fact that in a slimmed-down world, the trappings of civilization are not particularly useful. In a tribe of 30 people, there’s very little urgency about preserving the science of plastics manufacture. There’s no need to make ammunition when a bow and arrow will do nicely.
They have all the civilization they need.
If Stewart set out to create an abiding volume, he couldn’t have done it better. There are very few clues within the book as to its real age. There are comments about records and record players, and incidents of careless use of the DDT that would be banned in 1972, but most of the book is timeless. There is never a mention of any specific year. It does have a formal, slightly dated writing style which constantly uses “which” when “that” would do, and there are no contractions.
The narration by Jonathan Davis is engaging and warm, and the audiobook is an affecting experience. Except perhaps for the truly devoted science fiction fan, however, the strident introduction by Connie Willis is a distraction.
I have listened to many books that deal with the fall of civilization as we know it. Be it nuclear war, zombies, aliens, an EMP or a virus, each story provokes the same questions for me: What would I do? Could I survive in this new world? Would my morals be tossed aside when my survival hangs by a thread? That is what makes the genre so interesting to me.
Earth abides approaches the fall of civilization in a very different and laid back way. Mankind is practically wiped out overnight and the world becomes a lonely place for the few survivors. There is no gigantic battle or war as a back drop for this tale, nor is there any real lingering threat from the contagion that practically eliminates the human race. Rather it is a theoretical tale of what would happen to the earth if you took humans out of the mix. With our modern life so focused and dependent upon interactions with others would any of us even know what to do if we suddenly found ourselves alone in this world?
The main character in the book, Ish, fancies himself an observer of life, and we basically become the observers of Ish. The book is divided into the 3 distinct stages of Ish and his life after the fall of mankind and it is a rather meandering journey. Due to the slow pace of the book, you will find your own mind wandering and contemplating the world in new and unique ways. For me this was a double edged sword. It made me think of some things I would not have normally considered but it also gave my mind plenty of time to find fault with certain events in the book.
In the end, I enjoyed the book and thought Jonathan Davis did well as the narrator; however, it never consumed me as it has done to so many of the other reviewers here on Audible. If you are looking for a different approach to the post-apocalyptic genre and are in the mood for some mental meandering then you should give this one a go, but if you are looking for a tense story of the struggle for survival then you should seek your fix elsewhere.
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