Book Impressions: Earth Abides by George R. Stewart

Earth Abides

On Goodreads, I give 5 stars out of 5 to Earth Abides by George R. Stewart.

You’ve come to the wrong book if you want non-stop action and a main character who doesn’t annoy you to pieces. This book was published in 1949, so naturally the technology, ideologies, and mindset will be old fashioned. The main character, Ish, is a hopeless and helpless egotistical jerk, but he’s a product of the author’s time and place in history. A book like this is a mini time capsule for the time in which it was written. Get over it and appreciate how far we’ve come.

Earth Abides is a slow read, but it offers an abundance of slow-to-boil horror that will leave you wondering what in the world you would do in similar circumstances. Ish and the others who make up their little community of survivors struggle to breathe new life into the collapsed world. As with all Utopian/Dystopian societies, this one on San Lupo Drive isn’t so rosy.

While it’s rumored that Earth Abides was somewhat of an inspiration for Stephen King’s The Stand, Earth Abides reads more like Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us. Ish is a natural observer, so the reader is subjected to the matter-of-fact way Mother Nature reclaims what’s hers.

You don’t really notice it much as you’re reading, but once you’ve finished, you realize the story flows in reverse. The ending is creepy and shows that not all societies in the aftermath of an apocalypse will progress toward rebuilding and moving forward. Sometimes, they simply slip backward into the land that time forgot.

This book would be a great read for an Anthropology class!


Favorite Quotes

“Take away family and job, friends and church, all customary amusements and routines, hope too——and life became walking death.”

“When the opportunity was at your hand, you did not dare to seize it. When the opportunity was lost, it became precious.”

“As Ish reflected, the Catholic Church had considered almost all possibilities, but apparently never the one of getting reorganized after the Apostolic Succession was broken and only two women remained.”

“Between the plan and the fulfillment stands always the frail barrier of a human life.”

“This is the mere madness of midnight.”

“All the best laid plans could not prevent the disaster against which no plans had been laid.”


What do you think?

My Goodreads

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