Earth Abides by George R. Stewart – 1949

Earth Abides by George R. Stewart can truly be considered to be a ‘lost book‘. An excellent piece of prescient of Science Fiction now largely forgotten, it envisions an Earth suddenly depopulated by a plague (think H5N1 Bird Flu, for example).

What amazed me more than anything else in this book, were the number of themes that Stewart touched on which were obviously known in 1949. The flammability of the forests as a result of our ‘management’, the boom and bust cycles of predator and prey, the likelihood that man’s growth would overrun the planet’s ability to sustain him, the increased probability of plagues as population density increases.

It is a wise and sad book all at once. In these days, when so many people are still in deep denial of the coming problems (see the Perfect Storm), it reminds us that the writing has been on the wall for a very long time indeed.

In the book, Stewart’s main character, Isherwood Williams, makes much of the fact that of the very few people who survived, very few of them have any talent or inclination to think beyond the immediate and they will rarely consider the future and the longer term consequences of today’s decisions.

Nothing’s changed. The evidence for and the information about the coming problems are laying out in plain sight but because they refer to things in the future and things that are far away, very few of us are interested. And like a great flock of sheep advancing upon a cliff and chewing on the grass just in front of our nose, we will go over the edge – and nearly everyone will be utterly surprised.

If you are interested in the coming problems, I recommend this book highly. You can file it in your collection of books on the coming apocalypse under ‘P’ – for poignant.

One Response to “Earth Abides by George R. Stewart – 1949”

  1. lisa says:

    Like E.B. White’s book that foresaw 9/11, HERE COMES NEW YORK, also written and published in 1949…. seems that there were a few who survived WWII and clearly saw the makings of III. Love and hate the sheep on the cliff analogy. So righteously appropo.