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George R. Stewart (1895–1980)

Author of Earth Abides

43+ Works 6,129 Members 155 Reviews 11 Favorited

About the Author

George R. Stewart (1895-1980) was a professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley

Works by George R. Stewart

Earth Abides (1949) — Author — 3,557 copies
Storm (1941) 284 copies
Pickett's Charge (1960) 246 copies
Fire (1948) 110 copies
Names on the Globe (1667) 38 copies
East of the Giants (1938) 12 copies
American Ways of Life (1954) 11 copies
Not so rich as you think (1967) 11 copies
The Years of the City (1955) 11 copies
Man. An Autobiography (1946) 9 copies
Sheep Rock (1951) 7 copies
N.A.1, LOOKING SOUTH (1957) 5 copies
Doctor's oral 5 copies
Good lives 2 copies
This California (1965) 2 copies

Associated Works


20th century (23) American (39) American history (150) American literature (33) American West (30) apocalypse (59) apocalyptic (38) California (91) Civil War (60) classic (26) Donner Party (24) dystopia (65) ebook (23) fiction (417) geography (92) Gettysburg (39) history (338) Kindle (23) Landmark (37) names (31) non-fiction (172) novel (84) NYRB (26) own (26) pioneers (27) place names (41) plague (53) post-apocalypse (39) post-apocalyptic (233) read (53) reference (34) science fiction (617) sf (130) SF Masterworks (45) sff (29) survival (53) to-read (356) unread (42) US history (24) USA (78)

Common Knowledge



George R Stewart's Earth Abides in Post-apocalyptic Literature (July 2010)


Brian Aldiss coined the term "cozy catastrophe" about John Wyndham's work. It being an end of the world event where the character doesn't suffer enough or there's not always impending doom right at the door. In Earth Abides, the main character, Ish, is bedridden throughout the entire apocalypse. Then we follow him when he is clear-headed. No zombies. No aliens. No evil government stooges.

Ish isn't a scientist or a doctor, or a superhuman soldier; he's just a slightly more intelligent person who understands the present and the importance the future holds. Along the way he picks up a few group of survivors. The dynamic of the group is something that is interesting as we see a small society form. Within this, Ish becomes a defacto leader and the idealist - but an idealist who has reality smack into him several times, especially when it concerns other people. While you do get a semblance of others actions and reasons, we are constantly following Ish and his internal dialogue. Society is gone and all that remains are the remains.

But now children come into the mix. Society is still in struggle within their group. Ish wants to build the children to take over and remember the times before and achieve order once again. But what does order and society look like when you only have less than a dozen people who existed in the "before times".

There are some amazing juxopositions in this book as well. Ish takes a wife, Emma, names that have origin towards "Adam" and "Eve". We see the story starts out with Ish (Adam) being bitten by a snake and then he's thrust out into a world of disorder but also the Earth continues. Within this, there is small discussions of religion as in Ish is not religious and views it as a distraction from the unity needed among the group and focus on survival tasks. Then to double back, mythology springs up on things that for Ish are common place but for the children who only know the world after the Great Disaster become totems and exalted titles.

There's no big shootouts in this book. There's no stopping the mad bomber or brigand. It is a calm book but the tension and drama are beautifully done. The dealing with an outside stranger to the group and the impact of actions taken is such a high point. But there are little movements that are big deals and then there are big deals where you think the story will focus on but it settles into a more somber and carefree tone. It's amazing.

I almost come to think of apocalypse stories truly bringing questions of the purpose of life and humanity front and center and this one has done it the most by not focusing on the disaster but on the life and humanity. This would be an amazing book for a group discussion or reading group. I was tempted not to finish it as I saw the end coming and didn't want it to end - a sure sign of a good book. A definite recommendendation. Don't let it sit on your shelf. But if you do, the Earth Abides. Final Grade - A+
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1 vote
agentx216 | 113 other reviews | Aug 27, 2023 |
The people are examples, generic, but each one shows how this great weather event affected many others like them. I read this many times over many years, and still felt it was new each reading.
mykl-s | 5 other reviews | Feb 25, 2023 |
My usernamesake!

Earth Abides is a gentle glide from the stagnation of civilisation to it's feeble, but comfortable, reignition.

I often found myself disagreeing with Ish, the narrator and protagonist, and wondering how I would react in a situation like this. It provoked some interesting thoughts and scenarios, and honestly immersed me in the world more deeply than if I had agreed with him at every turn.

I found that this novel could be put down at any time and returned to any time later without much loss of clarity, espescially during Part II: The Year 22. Some may see this as a negative, but I honestly found it to be a significant positive as I have a habit of putting books down and not picking them up again for months, only to have completely forgotten everything.

This is an intriguing, realistic, and frankly desirable look into a potential post-apocalypse humanity that is, to me at least, leagues above every piece of post-apocalyptic media that catastrophizes about humanity's 'evil nature' and the 'devolution' we might face in such a scenario.
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JasonAbides | 113 other reviews | Jan 10, 2023 |
Well written and compelling story. Though it was written in 1949, there is little to give that fact away.
toddtyrtle | 113 other reviews | Dec 28, 2022 |



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Eduardo Paolozzi Cover artist
Gregorio Lemos Translator
Ulf Herholz Cover artist
Tony Gleeson Cover artist
Bob Fowke Cover artist
Les Edwards Cover artist
John Brunner Foreword
C.W. Bacon Cover artist
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