20 July 2005

12. Earth Abides by George Stewart

Great book. Got it from Crumbolst yesterday and stormed right through it. Reviews from Olman's Fifty, Mt Benson report, and Crumbolst

I realized, while finishing this book, that in addition to stories about animal societies (like Secret of Nimh or Charlotte's Web) that I also really like stories about the re-emergence/establishment of civilization - Lord of the Flies, the Rama series by Arthur Clarke, the first 7/8s of 28 Days Later, and this here book I just finished. I wonder if that is why, too, I like the DMing part of role-playing games so much. I get to experiment with my own societies and reasons for order and disorder.

The book is about how one man, Isherwood Williams survives after a strange fever wipes out (most of) humanity. He is away camping while the epidemic rages, and returns to the shell of civilization. He gets sick but doesn't die and has to make his way through the abandoned grocery stores and highways that are left behind.

I'd rather not give anything away, but will say that Stewart does a very good job making the assembly of survivors believable and giving amplifying detail (in the form of italicized omniscient narration) about the crumbling remains of American civilization. I hope that when it comes it's close to Stewart's description, I'll at least feel prepared.

The thing about this book though, is that while he does focus on the survivors, Stewart takes a lot of time to explain the consequences of the fall of man on the earth. It is about the people left behind, but more so how the earth reacts. I'm going to learn more about Stewart's ideas, but he does get into what happens when man is taken out of the environment-controlling and is removed as the top predator. Really so very interesting.

I've also wondered how I'd cope with some sort of apocalypse. I think I would do OK, but have wondered where I would go. East to LI? To the sailboat and be mobile on the water? Would I jump in the car and go south or west to more fertile places? I don't really have a plan, but I guess it would depend on the nature of the apocalypse.

I'm still digesting the book and will post again after I think a little more.

(I edited this post on 26 April 2008 to include the links to other reviews.)

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