Earth Abides by George R. Stewart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is really good. Particularly it’s post-apocalyptic without being overly trite. The books conclusion felt right, as though the author had changed his mind over the course of the book as the book had developed. Certainly the transition from rebuilding to survival is handled with some aplomb. Like movies from the 30’s you’re not going to get stacks of gore or the visceral horror. Where death is dealt with it’s dealt with in a sensitive manner. The tough times are portrayed through the discussion they generate and the thoughts of the lead character. This gives the book an interesting feel because the thought in the book is unvarnished. The lead character does hold opinions that he’s unable to express and some of those opinions are not flattering to the other characters. Also the lead character is both human and not an action-oriented individual. Which is great for a geek like me to relate to.
There are a couple of things I didn’t like. The treatment of mental illness and women leaves a lot to be desired by modern standards. Frankly almost all of the female characters serve as little more than reproduction machines, including the lead character’s wife. By the end I was pleased the book stopped talking about women as it was really making me uncomfortable. But perhaps that says more about me than the book. Also I was sad the inter-group dynamics weren’t better explored.
I’d recommend the book, it’s not average fare for the genre and characterisation aside it’s a thought-provoking read.
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