The cabin had always been a special retreat for Isherwood Williams, a haven from the demands of society. But one day while hiking, Ish was bitten by a rattlesnake, and the solitude he had so desired took on dire new significance. He was sick for days — although, somehow, he never doubted that he'd live through the ordeal. Often delirious, he did awake at one point to find two strangers peering in at him from the cabin door. Yet oddly, instead of offering help, the two ran off as if terrified. Not long after that, the coughing began. Ish suffered chills followed by fever, and a measles-like rash that had nothing to do with snake bite broke out on his skin. He was one of the few people in the world to live through that peculiar malady, but he didn't know it then.
Ish headed home when he finally felt himself again—and noticed the strangeness almost immediately. No cars passed him on the road; the gas station not far from his cabin had an air of abandonment; and he was shocked to see the body of a man lying by the roadside near a small town.
Without a radio or phone, Ish had no idea of humanity's abrupt demise. He had escaped death, yet could not escape the awesomeness of the catastrophe—and, with an eerie detachment, he found himself curious as to how long it would be before all traces of man's civilization faded from the Earth.
At the same time, he couldn't help wondering whether others had survived, and whether even a handful of human beings would
Read this book in about a week. Very good read.55
I remember reading this book as a teenager, and not being able to put it down. Now, 40 years later, I read it again. And it is still one of the most powerful books ever written. You can't say it is a sad ending, but it is definitely not a happy one either! And it is very true, men go and come, but Earth abides!55
George Stewart managed in this novel to create the often copied "end of the world" book which many writers have tried to reproduce, but fall short of doing so. This book contains the interaction of man with his environment as well as with his fellow man through the eyes of what is essentially a loner anthropologist who observes life as he unsteadily participates in it. The ideas are complex even though the form is simplified and he successfully forces one to consider many ideas that they would not normally look at without special training. Stewart catches some of the essential characteristics of mankind and some of the horrors of 'civilization' as well as some of its many benefits. He describes in few words the creations of superstitions as well as the creation of religions and even the creation of governments as well as the horrors that they bring with the creation of 'the state'. There was once a reviewer who said, "this book contains more ideas than a whole shelf of ordinary novels." in reference to Earth Abides and he was correct. I have read this book many times, first as a child then a teenager for class in high school, then as a young anthropologist and then as a physician. I now have read it again at the end of my life and sometimes feel that it would have been a better fate for my children to have this kind of world than the one we are currently living in and leaving to them. I can only suggest to them to read this book and try to survive and pass on skills and knowledge that will help their children when their time comes. This book deeply affected my philosophical perspective and also my life and maybe there are others who will be able to see what an incredible book this is; read it!55
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The detail in this book was outstanding. The sequence of events very well thought through.55