Earth Abides by George R. Stewart
Reviewed by L. Bennett
Earth Abides, by George Stewart, is a classic science fiction novel about a small group of Americans who survive a worldwide disease and begin a new life under very different circumstances. It is classic not only because it was one of the first of its kind to be published (as I am informed by a sci-fi loving friend) in 1949, but because it is one of the best of the theme that I've read. The story unfolds as the hero discovers how wide-spread the die-off has been, and evolves in a convincing and thought-provoking manner over the next half century, until the hero's own death ends the narrative but opens the door to a very different future. What I enjoyed about the book is how much thought the author put into creating a scientific and socially logical story of life near San Francisco after there is no electricity, commerce, or city services. Imagine, for example, trying to teach your children to do math when they have no need of counting anything because there's nothing worthwhile to tally. Try teaching the Puritan work ethic to your kids when there is no manufacturing or business for them to enter. The challenges facing the survivors also made me wonder how my education and experience would or could help me in such a setting. Even if you don't generally like science fiction, you would probably find this book worth a go.