Manual Earth Abides

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An instant classic upon its original publication in and winner of the first International Fantasy Award, Earth Abides ranks with On the Beach and Riddley .
Table of contents

There are scenes in that book I will never forget -- the deserted University library, the rusting and abandoned Golden Gate Bridge, the little dog begging Ish for recognition. Stewart dealt with racial barriers in a way that is completely unexpected in a book written in His concerns with the future of mankind are clear and obvious and still as pertinent as they were 60 years ago.

This is an intense book, not a light read, but it is entertaining and thought provoking. I find myself wondering how I would react in a world nearly devoid of people with no running water or electricity. Curse it, it makes me think. If you are looking for a page-turning, violent-action-packed post-holocaust story like in the movies Road Warrior or I Am Legend, look elsewhere. Stewart's Earth Abides is much more quiet, poetic, beautiful, and thoughtful, though it surely packs many emotional punches and has plenty of suspense, once you submerse yourself in his world and characters.

I like Ish Isherwood Williams , Stewart's protagonist.

60 Years Of End Of The World Sci-Fi: | Science

He's humane, thoughtful, sensitive, honest, and brave as he tries to live "creatively" in a world in which humanity has been almost completely wiped out via a quick-acting virus. Ish's attempts to find surviving kindred spirits and to rebuild civilization are moving. Stewart's detailed descriptions of the processes by which nature reclaims or transforms the traces of human civilization like roads, buildings, and cultivated flora and fauna are vivid; his speculations through Ish about human nature, civilization, race, gender, religion, love, life, and death are stimulating; his use of symbols like Ish's hammer, the university library, and the Bay Bridge are rich.

The novel possesses a biblical Old Testament grandeur and pathos leavened by quiet humor. Despite being published in , it doesn't seem dated. As other reviewers have noted, many scenes remain with you long after you close the book or turn off your player. The introduction by Connie Willis is heartfelt, interesting, and concise. Finally, Jonathan Davis does a great job reading this book as he does with The Windup Girl , infusing Stewart's detailed story with plenty of wit and emotion and humor and generally speaking in a pleasing reading voice that amplifies the text without trying to dominate it.

Some might argue this is novel is dated. Perhaps in some ways it is, but if only as one of the first great post-apocalyptic fiction novels it is worth a listen. Yet it is more than that. This novel has a subtle greatness. It is one of the relatively few novels that continues to affect me days, weeks, months and even years later.

I first listened to Earth Abides years ago right after finishing Ordeal by Hunger: The Story of the Donner Party which impressed me as being both detailed and touching. Earth Abides is also well written and humanistic and was also much better, a Sci Fi classic. Beyond that, Earth Abides transcends its genre approaching true greatness. I highly recommend Earth Abides. The narration is excellent adding to the experience. I have read this book I think what is MOST wonderful about the book is not, as I have heard some reviewers comment, that it is the "the original disaster story," but rather that it is a book of enormous hope.

Earth Abides Summary & Study Guide

Civilization may come and go, but Earth Abides. It's in the title. I was listening to Connie Willis' introduction to the book and realized that she had missed something because, well, she doesn't read or speak Hebrew. I do, if badly, speak and understand Hebrew so I knew that "Ish" pro: eesh means, in Hebrew "Man, and in some contexts, "husband" while Emma in Hebrew, pro: eema means "Mother. I think not. So in this book, though all the things of mankind perish when most humans are rather tidily eliminated, Earth does indeed abide and humankind reinvents civilization as it has before and quite probably will again.

It is a disaster certainly for all those who died , but it is the beginning of everything too. It is a wonderful book and despite the lack of computers and other electronic gadgets, the book is not particularly dated. How long, after all, would the internet function without people to fix downed servers, electronic glitches etc. How fast would our cell phones cease having service? As science fiction goes, this is one of the greatest.

Episode Ten: Earth Abides

As philosophy goes, it's not bad either! Also, incidentally, very well written and rather poetic. First of all, this is not the Stand, and no post apocalyptic horror story. To be honest, I was kind of hoping Earth Abides would be like that, but when I started the book I realized this book is not comparable to the Stand. Humanity is wiped out except for a few, and the story is about Ish and some other survivors who start a new civilization.

To me, the story is realistic and sometimes harsh, and I was really curious how it all would end. The narrator has a pleasant voice, and I wasn't bored once throughout the book. At the end I was left with awe, and I'm sure I'll never forget this book. The premise of this book reminded me of "The Road" but not so graphic.

The book revolves around a man "Ish" who lives through a epidemic that wipes out almost the whole world. Though he does not witness the epidemic, he emerges from living in solitude in a cabin in northern California to see it's after effects. No one is around. A very well written account of life, starting over. The book was written in , as such there is no graphic content and the story shines through. Highly recommended and very well narrated. Audible puts this book in the sci-fi category, but if you're not a sci-fi person, don't let that scare you off this amazing book.

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The narration is done incredibly well and the story of the fall and rise of civilization feels so authentic I didn't want to leave these characters behind after the book was over. Highly recommended 'listen'. As a major fan of the post-apocalyptic novel, I must say that "Earth Abides" stands among the best of its era s , alongside "On the Beach," and "Alas, Babylon. Isherwood's thoughts and musings about life and death form the greater part of the narrative. The audiobook features an excellent narration of a novel that, I'm certain, presented a lot of challenges due to its downbeat tone and general lack of "action.

The impact is subtle and filtered through the eyes of the philosophies and observations of the protagonist. Nonetheless, this book is a treasure for those who are patient and who do not require intense action scenes in every chapter. Post-apocalyptic fiction is my favorite genre.


So many aspects of the story of the world after civilization captivate me, that I always find something fascinating in every telling. In this novel, Stewart's real novelty and strength is in the observations of the end of the world through a thoroughly scientific mind. Bonus points for waxing philosophic and providing unexpectedly thoughtful details. Stewart shines in his detailed symphony of decay-- he gives thought to infrastructure and nature and mankind themselves.

It is a long journey, and I understand how some people could find the book tedious. I enjoyed the plodding pace because so often it sent my mind to wander in new directions. The book has several minor flaws, and a couple of unforgivable flaws: [SPOILERS FOLLOW] The minor flaws involve the scientific details like failing to realize that gasoline goes stale after a time, Ish's failure to ever experience grief of any kind, and the complete omission of what happened to the hundreds of millions of corpses that should have been lying around.

The first major flaw that very nearly ruined the book for me was Ish's and the Tribe's thoroughly unrealistic failure to educate their children. This flaw is so central to the story that had I been in a different mood, I may just as easily have given this book a rating as low as two stars. Here's the problem: Ish, a man of superior intellect, is surrounded by adults who are not as smart as he is-- but beyond their failure to qualify as intellectuals themselves, they actively laugh at Ish's repeated pleas to steer the Tribe and it's children back towards a civilized life style.

Even this unlikely reaction may have been believable had the author justified it with dialog, and laid the fault firmly at the feet of the idiot Tribe adults. But that never happens. Ish never delivers a compelling argument to the group.

He never gets outraged with them. Nor are the other Tribe adults ever described as insufferable morons-- instead we are repeatedly reminded that they are all just average folks. As if average folks wouldn't care that they were letting the torch of civilization burn out?! Anyway, the author quickly writes away about 20 years, noting some landmarks along the way-- and so it is almost easy to miss the fact that 20 years is a long, long, long time. Plenty of time to educate children. Plenty of time to realize that not educating the children is a ridiculously stupid failure.

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  • Plenty of time to encounter problem after problem after problem, whose solutions could easily be found in books, which future generations really should know how to read. So we have the impotent Ish, and the other Tribe adults sitting around, doing nothing but breeding ignorant offspring.

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    • Even when basic plumbing and water supplies fail, the adults are unmoved. Never mind that they could set up cisterns, or move to an area with a hand-pump well to get fresh water. Oh, and rather than fill toilet tanks manually from a bucket or something, or rig a clever plumbing solution, they choose to use outhouses instead. Eventually Ish decides that way to educate the young is to teach them basic hunter-gatherer skills, so that when civilization's scraps are used up, they'll be able to survive on their wits.

      So, what does he do? He teaches them how to make bows and arrows, and how to start fires from scratch He teaches them literally nothing else. Nothing about farming, metallurgy, medicine, weather prediction seriously, he doesn't even teach them how to use the barometer that he is holding , etc. The Tribe breeds like bunnies, with every generation getting more ignorant. Ish notices that they are becoming superstitious, and losing skepticism and critical thinking skills.

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      He attempts to fix the problem for a total of one minute, decides it's hopeless, and subsequently spends the rest of his life reinforcing the idea that his hammer is magical and that he is a god. He makes no attempt to explain scientific method-- arguably the one concept that could save the future from hundreds or thousands of years of ignorance.

      The other major flaw in the novel was that there were clearly a lot of humans still alive, but the Tribe never seeks to join them.